04 April 2019

4th April 1802 - Dorothea Dix born

Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on 4th April 1802. At a time when women could not vote she achieved a great deal in improving care of the mentally ill.

She started out wanting to teach - an outlet allowed to women, and taught a Sunday class in the Jail in Massachusetts where she was appalled to see the conditions some mentally ill residents lived in.

She visited other institutions of the time and wrote up her findings to be read to the Massachusetts State legislature. People were shocked and this led to the founding of a more humane institution. She did similar things in other US states, bringing to the attention of the governors the state of care for the mentally ill. In all she helped found 32 hospitals for people with mental illness.

Dorthea Dix also came to England, and stayed with Samuel Tuke, the founder of the York Retreat for the mentally ill. She then visited Scotland and presented a report for the Royal Commission looking into the lunacy law of Scotland. The model of care that Dix promoted was based on the work of French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel and seeing the York Retreat.

Thanks to the today in psychology history for the date

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