What does an epileptic, an insane person, someone with downs syndrome, a debtor, an alcoholic, a passionate woman, and a murderer have in common? Give up? Well, in the 1800s they would have all been put in the same jail cell. I have no clue who thought that would be a good idea and why some of the above mentioned were even jailed at all is ridiculous! Dorthea Dix is the daughter of a mentally ill mother and alcoholic and child abusive father. (Neither parent was jailed.) Dix spent her life trying to fit in and find a family; the family she had was incapable of loving her at all. When she reached 40 yrs old she discovered that her life's work would be relieving the suffering of those "relieved of their reason." She spent the rest of her life doing so.
The book starts off told in fiction form following Dorthea from childhood to her twenties. It takes a more historical telling form when she starts her cause of humane treatment of those with mental disabilities of many sorts. This book tells of amazingly horrible acts of abuse to people of mental ailments. Including the ability to buy such a person to use for labor or entertainment purposes. Though it could read dry at times, the information is astounding. Dix is also made known to the reader clearly and I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for her. She always tried to fit in and yet was always afraid that she might become mentally ill. I give this book a B+. Really good. I received this book for free from www.bloggingforbooks.com.