Topics: Psychiatric hospital, Psychiatry, Kirkbride Plan Pages: 5 (1142 words) Published: April 30, 2014
Dorothea Dix
Dorothea Dix brought the introduction of mental asylums and hospitals for the mentally sick. She encouraged the poor and sick people to get better as soon as they can. Since Dorothea Dix has taken this opportunity to help, it has changed the lives of many mentally ill children and adults. Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4, 1802, in Hampden, Maine. She was the eldest of three children, and her father, Joseph Dix, was a religious fanatic and distributor of religious tracts who made Dorothea stitch and paste the tracts together, a chore she hated. Dix had many admirers over her lifetime, and was briefly engaged to her second cousin, Edward Bangs, she never married. Therefore she had no children. Dix worked closely with Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, a Philadelphia physician whose philosophy for building and running hospitals to treat the insane was known as "The Kirkbride Plan." The New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum was the first Kirkbride Plan hospital to be built; it is now known as the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. She served as Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War. Dorothea Dix´s work exposing and pushing for legislative changes in the conditions under which the mentally ill were housed and treated led to phenomenal reforms. “Prisons and almshouses, where people suffering from mental illness were housed side-by-side with criminals or the poor, gave way to exclusively dedicated facilities. Dix´s work resulted in the founding of thirty-two mental hospitals or mental institutions dedicated specifically to the care of the mentally ill. Prisons at the time were unregulated and unhygienic, with violent criminals housed side by side with the mentally ill.” Dix visited every public and private facility she could access, documenting the conditions she found with unflinching honesty. She then presented her findings to the legislature of Massachusetts, demanding that officials take action toward reform. Her reports—filled with dramatic accounts of prisoners flogged, starved, chained, physically and sexually abused by their keepers, and left naked and without heat or sanitation—shocked her audience and galvanized a movement to improve conditions for the imprisoned and insane.”Life at the Dix Mansion was extremely different than Dorothea was accustomed to. Her grandmother was wealthy and demanded that Dorothea act and have interests of a wealthy girl. Her grandmother hired a dance instructor and a seamstress to cater to Dorothea's personal needs. However, Dorothea did not want any of these things. At one point her grandmother punished her severely when she was trying to give food and her new clothes to the beggar children who were standing at their front gate. At the age of fourteen, Madame Dix requested that her sister, who lived in Worcester, take care of Dorothea for a "while" and turn her into a "lady." Mrs. Duncan, Madame Dix's sister, agreed to this since she was always very fond of Dorothea. Once she arrived at her great aunt's house Dorothea immediately took on the role of "young lady" so she could return to her brother's. However, she was to stay with her Aunt for nearly four years.” Dorothea's second career began when she was thirty-nine years old. In March of 1841 she entered the East Cambridge Jail. She had volunteered to teach a Sunday School class for women inmates. Upon entering the jail she witnessed such horrible images that her life, from that point on, was changed forever. Within the confines of this jail she observed prostitutes, drunks, criminals, retarded individuals, and the mentally ill were all housed together in unheated, unfurnished, and foul-smelling quarters (Viney & Zorich, 1982). When asked why the jail was in these conditions her answer was, "the insane do not feel heat or cold”. After witnessing these conditions she immediately took the matter to the courts and after a serious of battles finally won. Dorothea then proceeded to visit jails and almshouses, where the...
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