• W. Austin Gardner

Dorothys Delusional Disorder


Dorothy was apparently suffering from a delusional disorder that convinced her that her husband was unfaithful in their marriage. John Thomas wrote to Andrew Fuller about incidents that had occurred in 1795:

Mrs. Carey has given us much trouble and vexation.… She has taken it into her head that Carey is a great whoremonger, and her jealously burns like fire unquenchable; and this horrible idea has night and day filled her heart for about 9 or 10 months past; so that if he goes out of his door by day or night, she follows him; and declares in the most solemn manner that she has catched him with his servants, with his friends, with Mrs. Thomas, and that he is guilty every day and every night.… She has even made some attempt on his life.7

Her mental delusions not only caused great personal turmoil for Carey but also created confusion and questions about his ministry and message. “He attempted to argue for the moral superiority of Christianity and how Christ could liberate Hindus and Moslems from the tragedies of paganism,” writes James Beck. “But how could he evangelize with his wife following him through the streets accusing him in the vilest language of adultery?”8 It was a distressing situation, and she was later described by coworkers as being “wholly deranged.” Mar 6 pp 126–133

The circumstances, not surprisingly, took a toll on Carey, as is evident in his journal entries through 1795: “This is indeed the Valley of the Shadow of Death to me.… O what a load is a barren heart.… Oh that this day could be consigned to oblivion.… Much to complain of, such another dead soul I think scarcely exists in the world.… Mine is a lonely life indeed.… My soul is overwhelmed with depression.”9


7 James R. Beck, Dorothy Carey: The Tragic and Untold Story of Mrs. William Carey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 109.

8 Ibid., 114.

9 Ibid., 116–17.

Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 125–126.


In 1807, at the age of fifty-one, Dorothy Carey died. She had long since ceased to be a useful member of the mission family. In fact, she was a hindrance to the work. John Marshman wrote how Carey often worked on his translations “while an insane wife, frequently wrought up to a state of most distressing excitement, was in the next room.”16 Marshman himself suffered from mental illness—“terror and anguish”—which Carey described as “morbid depression.”17

16 Ibid., 146.

17 Beck, Dorothy Carey, 129.

Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 127–128.

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