Prison Reform PSA

“Moral treatment of the insane with a view to induce habits of self-control is of the first importance. Uniform firmness and kindness towards the patient are of absolute obligation. The most exact observance of truth should be preserved in all intercourse with the insane. They rarely violate a promise, and are singularly sensitive to truthfulness and fidelity in others. They rarely forgive an injury and as seldom betray insensibility to kindness and indulgence. Once deceived by a nurse or attendant they never a second time bestow their confidence upon the same individual.

Moderate employment, moderate exercise, as much freedom as is consistent with the safety of the patient, and as little apparent anxious watchfulness with cheerful society should be sought. The condition of the patients must determine the number of nurses in a ward. The general opinion is holden that all patients do better without special nurses, wholly devoted to their care.”

 (the formatting of the PSA didn’t work out….the second line of the citation is supposed to be indented and also the paragraph should line up with the second indentation)

Dix, Dorothea. Memorial Soliciting a State Hospital for the Protection and Cure of the Insane, Submitted to the general Assembly of North Carolina (November, 1848).


This source, written by Dorothea Dix in 1848, is about the treatment of mentally ill patients. Dix was monumental in the change of how mentally ill people were treated and cared for. She focused on creating cleaner and nicer facilities for the patients to live in. This drive was started when she toured mental “prisons” and saw how terrible they were. Dix appealed to many states individually, hoping to change their laws on mental institutions. This article is one to North Carolina, asking for better conditions. Earlier in the article, she speaks of the horrific treatment given to the mentally ill, as well as the inhumane conditions they live in. In this specific excerpt, Dix gives examples of how the mentally ill should be treated. One major point she brought up was that they should be treated as people, and not like lesser. Another point she makes is that mentally ill patients need personal love and attention. Dix believed that these patients should not be thrown into prisons, but be cared for and helped. This document is limited because is just one persons out look on the whole mental illness system. There is definitely a negative bias towards the institutions/prisons of her time because Dix is trying to raise awareness, and showing the horrors will make people pay attention. Overall, this excerpt is trying to show how mentally ill patients should be treated. 

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