Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review--One Glorious Ambition

In One Glorious Ambition:  The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, author, Jane Kirkpatrick "combines historical accuracy with the gripping narrative of a woman who recognized suffering when others turned away"  in order to tell the story of Dorothea Dix.

The book states this as a story of "one dedicated woman...giving voice to the suffering of many."  But was hers a desire to alleviate the suffering of many or her own?

Whereas, the protagonist's life experiences shaped her future work, I can not accurately state from this book that its desire stemmed from a heart desiring to do God's will rather than satisfying her own desire to find her life's purpose. 

The story portrays Dorothea Dix as unattached to her own mother's plight of insanity while being all consumed with the suffering of others who were insane.  This inconsistency made her seem cold and distant, often self-absorbed rather than compassionate.  In her relationships, she seems to be so needy and selfish that no real relationships are formed and sustained until the latter portion of her life and that may have resulted more in the singleness of purpose with those who shared her interest.

The author's portrayal of her character and ideals left me uncertain as to the morals of the character.  Dorothea blames the democracy's 'excitement' for the insanity of many.  Her cure namely being the moral treatment of patients with order and discipline.  She crusades on the behalf of the mentally ill being above "politics" but not above "charm campaigns," all the while battling not to become the mentally ill herself.  She does not question the ethics of her campaigns to "polish the soul" of those whom she wants to contribute to her cause as long as she remains the "top that keeps on spinning."

This book did not elevate my opinion of Dorothea Dix in any way but rather caused me to look at her work as a result of personal ambition rather than for God's glory.  

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14