ERIC Number: ED360763
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Jun-5
International Definitions of Mental Retardation.
Soloff, Leah A.; Wright, Eleanor B.
This study investigates definitions and usage of the term "mental retardation" worldwide, via a review of the literature and a survey of 20 countries. Nineteen of the 20 responding countries reported using some sort of intelligence quotient (IQ) criterion to determine mental retardation, though the criterion varies. In some countries, there are differences between official classification systems and practical ones, with the official systems being used for clinical and scientific purposes while welfare agencies use practical classifications for identifying severity of disability. The paper finds that IQ may provide a statistical convenience, but it appears to be relatively insignificant in making real life decisions associated with treatment. The paper notes that analysis of different countries' terminology provides insight into cultural perspectives. The paper concludes that differences in ability are recognized in all cultures, and the impact of these differences cannot be separated from surrounding social, political, and economic conditions. Mental retardation is viewed as a social phenomenon that includes people with known organic etiology, and IQ is a neat label for a package of behaviors that generally correspond to a given level. (Contains 25 references.) (JDD)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association on Mental Retardation (117th, Washington, DC, June 5, 1993).