Mental Retardation: A Statistical Study of 580 Cases Known to the Suffolk County Clinic for the Mentally Retarded, Smithtown General Hospital, Smithtown, New York, March I960 to June, 1964
Background of Study. Since earliest history the plight of the mentally retarded has confronted every society with the problem of what to do with it’s members who were not endowed with the ability to learn and function as well as the great majority of its people. A major influence was "mankind’s attitude toward its mentally weakest members which had been mostly contemptuous, harsh, negligent or cruel." The ancient Spartans abandoned retarded children on a mountainside to perish or cast them into a river. During Roman and Medieval times, there existed "idiot" attendants or for amusement purposes the "fools" and "jesters" who were called upon to entertain their masters. Sometimes their strange behavior caused them to be regarded as having supernatural powers. This was especially true in the Orient where they were treated with reverence and on occasion some would be elevated as favorites of the gods. It was not until the Christian Era that small gains were made by compassionate religious leaders who offered them kind treatment. There was a continuance of this care into the Middle Ages but soon all was lost as civilization moved into the Reformation period. During this time the mentally retarded were thought of as being possessed of the devil and were persecuted as such. Leather advised the parents of one mentally retarded child to throw him into the river in order to rid their home of a demons presence.
Social work|Mental health|Clinical psychology|Religion
Staszak, Richard J, "Mental Retardation: A Statistical Study of 580 Cases Known to the Suffolk County Clinic for the Mentally Retarded, Smithtown General Hospital, Smithtown, New York, March I960 to June, 1964" (1964). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30725024.