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12/01/2007

Mental Retardation and the Problem of “Normality”: Self-Determination and Identity Choice


By: J. David Smith

Abstract: The meaning of the category and concept of mental retardation is explored through the words of a fictional character, and the accounts of real people who have been injured and stigmatized by the label. Examples of the extremes to which people have gone to avoid or escape the term mental retardation are provided. The classification of retardation is presented as a fabrication with no coherence in the characteristics and needs of the people placed under its conceptual umbrella. A call for new terminology and, more importantly, new thinking about this misunderstood and nearly forgotten population of children and adults is issued.
 
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