Life and Work of Dorothea Dix Essay

Life and Work of Dorothea Dix Essay

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The care of mentally ill patients majorly progressed since the 1800’s and much of this advancement must be credited to Dorothea Dix. During part of the 19th century many perceived the mentally ill as ‘lost souls’. People viewed these patients as incurable and helpless. Mental patients were mistreated, taken advantage of, beaten, thrown into unclean quarters, and abused. Dorothea Dix, a pioneer of her time, advocated for the mentally ill. She changed the way these people were viewed and most importantly the way they were treated. Dix rebelled against inadequacies and campaigned, alone, for the rights of the mentally ill. The public, as well as the government, treated the mentally ill as criminals and sent them to live in unfit conditions of the jails – exiling them ultimately lead to death. These harsh conditions were viewed as “enough” for the mentally ill because they did not know any better, or deserve any better.
Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4th 1802 in Maine and he first of three children of Joseph and Mary Dix. Dix’s home life was less than pleasant because her mother was mentally unstable and her father an abusive alcoholic (Gollaher, 1995). Dix’s troubles through the course of her childhood may have been one of the reasons she developed an altruistic social role; a passion capable of changing the treatment of others. Although her father was violent toward Dix, he did teach her how to read at a young age and this sparked interest in teaching and assessment (Bumb, 2008). During the early 1800’s women lacked permission to attend school but could be privately educated by other women; therefore Dix decided to embrace this approach. Dix ran a school near her grandmother’s home for three years (Bumb, 2...

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...nitely. Dix saved countless lives by effectively influencing nursing practice in the 1800’s; in turn changing the way psych nursing is practiced today.

Works Cited

Bumb, J. (2008). Dorothea Dix. Retrieved October 2nd, 2008, from:

Gollaher, D. (1995). Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix. Retrieved October 2nd, 2008,


LeVert, S. (2005). Dorothea Dix. Retrieved September 20th, 2008, from Encyclopedia of the Civil


Parry, M. (2006). Dorothea Dix. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 96, Issue 4, 624-625

Retrieved September 28th, 2008, from: EBSCO Host Database.

Viney, W. (2008). Dorothea Dix. Retrieved October 2nd, 2008, from:

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