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June 1951

EXPANDING SCOPE OF OLIGOPHRENIA: Increasing Range of Syndromes Associated with Mental Defect

Author Affiliations


AMA Am J Dis Child. 1951;81(6):803-809. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1951.02040030817009

RECENT years have witnessed a considerable expansion in the scope and extent of knowledge of mental deficiency, a subject which, although claimed by psychiatry, has strong educational and pediatric connections whose ramifications should not be underestimated. Within little more than a decade, the subject which was thought to be associated with relatively few conditions, such as mongolism, cretinism, microcephaly and the like, has been shown by medical, genetical and psychiatric research to be significantly related to about 70 conditions. It is possible to arrange a list of these conditions, not necessarily complete, under three basic headings for the purpose of description: subcultural defects, instability defects and somatic defects. Subcultural defectives are characterized by intellectual inadequacy paralleled by a lower level of social development; unstable defectives are characterized by abnormal rather than subnormal conduct and may be of the psychopathic, the epileptic or the exogenous type. Somatic defects are distinguished ordinarily