Dorothea Dix. By Chris Martinez Ben Cowen Brenda Salgado. Background.
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She was born Dorothea Lynde Dix. Her father's name was Joseph and mother Mary. She was born on April 4th 1802 in Hampden, Maine.Her father was a migrant preacher and published literary publications such as tracts. Her mother, Mary was a victim of depression and the fact that they were not well off also led to a so happy childhood
After she returned to America, in 1840-41, Dix conducted a statewide investigation of how her home state of Massachusetts cared for the insane poor. In most cases, towns contracted with local individuals to care for people with mental disorders who could not care for themselves, and who lacked family and friends to provide for them. Unregulated and underfunded, this system produced widespread abuse.
Dix traveled from New Hampshire to Louisiana, documenting the condition of pauper lunatics, publishing memorials to state legislatures, and devoting enormous personal energy to working with committees to draft the enabling legislation and appropriations bills needed to build asylums. In 1848, Dorothea Dix visited North Carolina and called for reform in the care of mentally ill patients.
During the Civil War, Dix was appointed Superintendent of Union Army Nurses. Unfortunately, the qualities that made her a successful crusader—independence, single-minded zeal—did not lend themselves to managing a large organization of female nurses. At odds with Army doctors, she was gradually relieved of real responsibility and would consider this chapter in her career a failure. In 1881, Dix moved into the New Jersey State Hospital, Morris Plains, where the state legislature designated a suite for her private use as long as she lived. An invalid, yet still managing to correspond with people from England to Japan, she died on July 17, 1887. Dix was buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
People thought that “moral treatment” such as routine habits, fixed schedules, and proper diets would cure patients. Other things implemented was pleasant surroundings, medications, and physical and mental activities. Extensive landscapes were developed on the grounds of mental hospitals. There was a hospital farm that could provide patients and staff in the mental hospital with food. Patients even had the opportunity to do vocational work such as making clothes, rugs, mattresses, and brooms. Many patients were involved in activities such as tennis, dancing, reading, and croquet. Ministers would go to the mental hospital to conduct services each week. Also, a cemetery was present on the grounds. Marble posts with a chain along the line of graves were built.
In this day and time, people with mental illness are not put in hospitals unless it is conspicuously urgent that they should be. Mental illnesses are caused by pathological and psychological disorders. A treatment plan can be obtained by listing the patient’s symptoms. Leaving them in a hospital would do no good. At least if they are going through their routine day, they can be productive. Sitting around playing games all day is not necessary. In fact, a simple medication is usually enough to do the trick when it comes to curing patients.
Deinstitutionalization refers to the decrease in the number of patients in mental hospitals. Also, fewer mental health treatments are carried out in public hospitals. This is due to the utility of community-based mental health services rather than relying on hospitals. Deinstitutionalization shows evolution in practice, experience, and structure of mental health care in the United States. People should be released from mental hospitals as soon as they promise to take their medication. There is no reason why they should be held just because of a psychiatric disorder that wont physically harm the patient.
The reason why there was change is because people realized that hospitals offered little in the way of treatment. Also, people who were admitted to a hospital often had to stay for months or years. All the hospital did was provide patients with a way to avoid the stress of living. However, in making a recovery, a patient needs to be in their everyday routine. Otherwise, once they are released, their body will undergo a shock. It was realized that medication is a lot more sufficient that hospitals because at least the patient can continue with their everyday routine.
Dix’s impact in today’s world cannot be underestimated. She established hospitals for the mentally ill and handicappedas well as provide them with humane care that was beneficial for the patient. She was a pioneer for modern health in a time where care for the mentally ill or handicapped was not valued or didn’t exist at all.