One Glorious Ambition The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix By Jane Kirkpatrick

Dorothea is a true life example that it doesn’t matter what your childhood was or your past, you can still do great things. As in her life, many times those difficulties you face are a preparation for what God has for you to do in the future. She is also an excellent example that no matter what obstacles you face in pursuing your purpose, they will not hold you back if you endure and trust God.
Dorothea’s childhood was one of abuse, poverty, and neglect. Her father was an alcoholic and although she did not realize it as a child, her mother was mentally ill. She just saw her as always being sick. Her young life was spent protecting and looking out for her younger brothers. Even at such a tender age she showed sacrifice and compassion.
Her grandmother took interest in her plight and had her come live with her. She desired to make Dorothea into a sophisticated lady thus preparing her to find a husband to provide for her. Dorothea wasn’t interested; she wanted to do something with her life that would have an impact on others. Even as a young girl she had her own ideas. She had no desire have a husband and her boldness in speaking her mind was not a desired trait during the 1800’s. Therefore she had no trouble spurning unwanted suitors. This tenacity and trueness to her convictions were simply more character qualities that would make her a success her future endeavors.
With each path she took, doors would shut and God would redirect her. She faced many hardships such as the rejection of those she thought her only true friends and most of all her health. Throughout her entire life she struggled with poor health and times of great sickness. I saw a pattern in her life that when she had a need or someone to care for her God always provided. While she was discouraged during these times she never gave up, and focused on getting well so she could continue her work. Much of her life was filled with great loneliness but she didn’t allow self-pity consume her.
God eventually guided her into what would be her greatest and her life work, changing the cruel and inhuman treatment of the mentally will. She realized that had been her mother’s problem all along and shuddered at the thought of her loved one being in one of the appalling prisons for the mentally ill. She not only visited the prisons, but actually went into the cells, talked to the victims, showed them affection and brought them gifts.
She then began the very difficult journey of helping those who could not help themselves. She tirelessly, at her own expense and often the expense of her health, advocated changes through financial backing to build new hospitals; doggedly fighting local and federal governments to pass laws that these people might be treated with kindness, respect and have a quality of life, and educating the public at the horrors she saw.
Our mental health hospitals and treatment of the mentally ill are the quality they are today because of one woman who answered God’s calling and didn’t give up. She laid the foundation for modern mental health care. You would not have known it was fiction biography because of the way the author skillfully wove the abundance of facts. Ms. Kirkpatrick has a flair for that! A book worth reading!


1 thought on “One Glorious Ambition The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix By Jane Kirkpatrick

  1. I am so pleased you found Dorothea’s story compelling. Thanks for reading the book and posting. Dorothea would say there is still more work to do on behalf of the mentally ill. Thanks for letting people know about her story and that need.

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