clinical and investigative work pertaining to psychotherapy ( Cotzin, 1948; Gunzburg, 1958; O'Connor & Tizard, 1956; Sarason, 1953; Thorne, 1948). While a discussion of this area is beyond the scope of the present chapter, it is mentioned to highlight the attitude of many workers that changes in the personality and behavior of mental defectives are possible ( Harris & Sievers, 1959; Neham, 1951). Research in this area could also contribute to a deeper understanding of the personality and behavior of the retarded.
In the preceding pages some of the literature pertaining to abnormal behavior and mental retardation has been reviewed. No attempt was made to review the various clinical types of mental deficiency or the behavioral syndromes related to organic brain damage. Rather, the emphasis was placed on the broader problem of general findings and conclusions pertaining to the association of abnormal behavior and mental retardation. Although it is readily apparent that the terms mental retardation and mental deficiency encompass a wide variety of syndromes and patterns of behavior, the terms frequently are used as if they denoted some restricted or uniform type of behavior. As a result, one finds many generalizations pertaining to the behavior of the retarded as a group. It was the purpose of this chapter to review the views and pronouncements made in the area of abnormal behavior, to evaluate the findings reported in support of such statements, and to attempt to draw some conclusions and recommendations.
From our review it appears as if there has been a tendency to overgeneralize about the personality and behavior of the mentally retarded. In a similar fashion, there has been a tendency frequently to stereotype the personality of some of the more specific subgroups of retarded such as mongols or phenylketonurics. Many of these generalizations, furthermore, have been based on the clinical impressions of various individuals rather than on systematic investigations. The evidence of more recent studies and the accompanying change in point of view suggest considerable variability in the personality and behavior of individuals considered to be retarded.
With regard to abnormal behavior, specifically, there have been a number of diverse views presented. These have ranged from the statement that psychoses do not develop fully in the mentally retarded to the view that the latter are particularly susceptible to psychoses. In a related fashion some observers have stated that mental deficiency may result from psychosis, while others have hypothesized that mental deficiency is likely to lead to specific types of psychoses. Surveys of psychotic and neurotic behavior, emotional instability, and sociopathic behavior in diverse samples of individuals diagnosed as mentally retarded have also resulted in findings which show considerable variation. Similar variability is manifested in statements relative to the treatment of emotional disturbance in the mentally retarded. Some therapists believe the prognosis is poor while others hypothesize that the greater inability of the retarded to retreat into a world of fantasy may make those with schizophrenic symptoms easier to treat ( Wolfensberger, 1960).
When one finds such discrepant findings in the literature, one is usually