Humanities › History & Culture Quotes of Dorothea Dix Advocate for the Mentally Ill Share Flipboard Email Print MPI/Getty Images History & Culture Women's History Important Figures History Of Feminism Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Jone Johnson Lewis Women's History Writer B.A., Mundelein College M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. our editorial process Jone Johnson Lewis Updated October 28, 2019 Dorothea Dix, an activist who served in the Civil War as Superintendent of Female Nurses, also worked for reform of treatment for the mentally ill. Selected Dorothea Dix Quotes • "I think even lying on my bed I can still do something." [attributed, possibly incorrectly] • "The tapestry of history has no point at which you can cut it and leave the design intelligible." • "In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do." • "I come to present the strong claims of suffering humanity. I come to place before the Legislature of Massachusetts the condition of the miserable, the desolate, the outcast. I come as the advocate of helpless, forgotten, insane men and women; of beings sunk to a condition from which the unconcerned world would start with real horror." • "Society, during the last hundred years, has been alternately perplexed and encouraged, respecting the two great questions — how shall the criminal and pauper be disposed of, in order to reduce crime and reform the criminal on the one hand, and, on the other, to diminish pauperism and restore the pauper to useful citizenship?" [Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States] • "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." • "This sentiment of satisfaction in being useful, the guardian of the insane cannot too carefully watch over and foster since it conducts to self-control and self-respect. Incurables who are able and willing to work, are much more contented and enjoy better health when employed." • "If County Jails must be resorted to for security against the dangerous propensities of madmen, let such use of prison-rooms and dungeons be but temporary." • "I admit that public peace and security are seriously endangered by the non-restraint of the maniacal insane. I consider it in the highest degree improper that they should be allowed to range the towns and country without care or guidance; but this does not justify the public in any State or community, under any circumstances or conditions, in committing the insane to prisons; in a majority of cases the rich may be, or are sent to Hospitals; the poor under the pressure of this calamity, have the same just claim upon the public treasury, as the rich have upon the private purse of their family as they have the need, so have they the right to share the benefits of Hospital treatment. " • "A man usually values that most for which he has labored; he uses that most frugally which he has toiled hour by hour and day by day to acquire." • "While we diminish the stimulant of fear, we must increase to prisoners the incitements of hope: in proportion as we extinguish the terrors of the law, we should awaken and strengthen the control of the conscience." [emphasis in original] • "Man is not made better by being degraded; he is seldom restrained from crime by harsh measures, except the principle of fear predominates in his character; and then he is never made radically better for its influence."