Dorothea Dix

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Dorothea Lynde Dix was quoted as saying, “In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do.” Dix began at the age of 39, and spent the next 20 years as a social reformer for the treatment of the mentally ill. When asked to teach a Sunday School class at a women’s correctional facility, Dix was appalled at the conditions, as well as the fact that many of the women weren’t criminals, but were instead mentally ill. This is where her crusade began. Her work had immediate results throughout the country, and the changes are still being felt even today. The website is an excellent source that chronicles Dix’s early life. As a child she lived in a household with a mentally unstable mother and an alcoholic father. This site details her first career as a teacher, then her second career as a social reformer. The Webster site gives an abundance of specific detail about how Dix influenced people and how passionate she was about her beliefs. The last portion of the website biography laments the fact that Dix and her accomplishments are sadly under-reported in most history and psychology textbooks, but that this fact would sit very well with Dix herself, as she preferred to not be in the spotlight. This website gives a much more detailed description of Dix and her early life, as well as the time she spent in Boston. The writing is more personal and gives more intimate details. The site, in it’s entirety, is for the Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. The hospital history portion gives a stirring and highly detailed account of Dix visit to North Carolina and the events leading up to the state legislature’s decision to give money for a state hospital. It is an informative, as well as entertaining, account. The site also contains many photographs of Dorothea Dix and the hospital. This site and the historical elements that it contains is a microcosm of the change Dix brought about. This site gives another overview of Dorothea Dix’s early life and career highlights, but does so with an emphasis on her finding her religious home among ...

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...nian Institution site gives more detail on Dix ideas and involvement in the Civil War. It tells how Dix modeled her nursing after Florence Nightingale, even down to commissioning a black dress for herself, imitative of her heroine. The article also paints a portrait of Dix as a dour, disciplined and dedicated person who had trouble relating to the nurses and had a troubling relationship with the male doctors.
Dix’s life work has had a lasting effect on the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Her goals were never concretely set in her mind, she simply did what was best for the people and accomplished immeasurable good in her lifetime. Not only did she bring to light the plight of the mentally ill, she helped to open the door for hospitals and asylums to be built across the country and bring about overall change in the care and treatment of the patients. She believed, and was able to show, that the “insane” weren’t a lost cause. With proper care and treatment many were able to recover and lead normal lives. This was something that professionals at the time didn’t think was possible. She awoke the nations conscience to the plight of the mentally ill.
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