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January 2022

Normalisation and the psychology of 'mental retardation'

Journal/Book: Sociol Rev. 1996; 44: 108 Cowley Rd, Oxford, Oxon, England OX4 1JF. Blackwell Publ Ltd. 99-118.

Abstract: The 1950 and 1960s witnessed a revival of interest among psychologists in mental retardation closely associated with the development of a behaviourist model. These developments effected a decisive break in the discourse of retardation by inserting a 'behaviour' component into the definition of retardation. This strengthened claims by psychology of professional primacy vis-g-vis medicine. The objective of professional assertion helped create the conditions in which the service model of Normalisation(2) took root in North America and, to a lesser extent, the UK. As a semi-autonomous discourse, Normalisation provided a vehicle in which elements of contradictory discourses, principally psychology and interactionism, could be appropriated. The interventions which emerged from this comprised a dual strategy of enhanced social integration and the more precise definition and identification of mental retardation.

Note: Article MK Simpson, Univ Dundee, Dept Social Work, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland

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