Anne Dix Case Study

1800 Words 7 Pages
Dix’s interest in mental health reform didn’t materialize out of the ether. It had roots in her personality, as well as experiences she had while in England. Dix’s personality had the desire to make some sort of mission out of her life, hungering to find a cause to devote herself to. Without any solid purpose in her life, she floated, untethered. In 1838, in response to a letter that Dix had sent her, Dix’s friend Anne noted that Dix was a “…wanderer, doomed to know many a thing of grief and pain” (qtd in Gollaher, Voice for the Mad 118). Despite her despair in 1838, her mental state then was better than it had been in 1836, when she had entered a depression. In 1836, her search for purpose was so desperate that she drove herself to exhaustion …show more content…
Her grandmother’s death was one of the things that allowed her to be so independent. Of course, being a single woman in the 19th century afforded her more independence than if she had been married, but without money, a single woman likely wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that she wanted to. After she died, Dix’s grandmother bequeathed to her a share of the estate, and after her unmarried brother Charles died; his inheritance was sent to her. And finally, her brother Joseph gave Dix his part of the estate after he became a fairly successful merchant (Gollaher, Voice for the Mad 116). Without the moderate wealth that she had gained, Dix would not have been seen as a serious, independent woman with property, nor would she have been able to have the funds to travel across the country to investigate asylums and present her reports. Though her desire for a purpose was one of the things that lead her to the reform movement, it was her privilege that gave her the status to carry out that …show more content…
In one of the committee reports, a sheriff used a journal to catalogue “the keeper, location, number of lunatics, and distinguishing features of each madhouse inspected” (qtd in Gollaher, “Origins of the English Asylum Movement”). Dix used the same structure in the Massachusetts Memorial by inserting excerpts from personal notes that she had taken when investigating treatment of the insane. Dix noted the locations of the individuals, as well as the circumstances they were kept in, just as the committee reports had done, but Dix’s style was more personal than the detached language used in the British reports (Gollaher, Voice for the Mad, 142). For example, a British report stated that, “No. 1, a pauper he found lying in bed, in a wretched apartment, with a broken window and very bad bedding; and it turned out that she had been constantly in this situation for the space of three months past, solely in consequence of having no clothes to put on” (qtd in Gollaher, “Origins of the English Asylum Movement”). While that description revealed the poor conditions the woman was kept in, the conditions were mostly described in an impartial manner, simply giving the details without any personal emotion behind what the writer witnessed. In an excerpt from one of Dix’s notebooks, she too was inspecting the

Related Documents