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Dorothea Dix: Insane In The 19th Century

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“...Insane persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.” These words were spoken in front of the General Court of Massachusetts by Joseph S. Dodd in January of 1843. Dodd spoke for Dorothea Dix, since women were not allowed to present cases to the Court. Dorothea Dix was a reformer in the 19th century, and went to extreme measures to take a stand for the mentally ill. She took a stand in history, which is when a singular person, large group, or an idea, stands up for what is right and creates change for it. Taking a stand revolves around what these people did, and who they impacted because of it. This action can be as little as not giving up…show more content…
Before Dix, the mentally ill were treated like animals. Insane people have been poorly treated all throughout history. The insane were physically and sexually abused in dirty cells with many other people (Reddi; Asylum 19th). If one was a lunatic or mentally impaired, then one was viewed as a criminal and housed accordingly (Asylum 19th). Many religions saw that insanity was a result of great sin or demonic possession (Asylum 19th). Over time however, educated upper-class doctors began to realize that mental illness was not a spiritual punishment, but a physical disease (Asylum Gale). This sparked a Reformation that spread from Europe on outward. Dix was part of this Reformation, and in doing so, she took a stand.
Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine, on April 4th, 1802 (Hill). She was born to Joseph Dix -an alcoholic, and Mary Bigelow -a depressed woman (Stevenson). Dorothea had two younger brothers, Joseph and Charles (Bumb). It was an unstable childhood, because her mother could not care for her children and her father was abusive. Her family moved to Vermont in the War of 1812 (Dorothea Softschools). In having a difficult young life and a mentally troubled mother, Dix unknowingly planted a seed inside her mind that would influence her in later
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