The behavioural and emotional difficulties that are experienced by mentally retarded adults have been regarded for many years as being manifestations of their intellectual deficits and maladaptive learning. The awareness that the mentally retarded may also suffer from mental illness was a notion that came into being in the mid-nineteenth century.

Nevertheless, the psychiatric problems of the mentally retarded were continually ignored the first half of the twentieth century. In the past three decades the flourishing normalization philosophy has highlighted the psychiatric problems of this population once again and rekindled the interest of practitioners, scientists, and service providers. Systematic studies have been performed and indicate that the full spectrum of pychiatric disorders as we know them today can be identified among the mentally retarded. Moreover, it is probable that they may be prone to a psychopathology that is determined by the specifics of their biological and psychosocial being.

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