© 1986

Culture and Retardation

Life Histories of Mildly Mentally Retarded Persons in American Society

  • L. L. Langness
  • Harold G. Levine

Part of the Culture, Illness, and Healing book series (CIHE, volume 8)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Robert D. Whittemore, L. L. Langness, Paul Koegel
    Pages 1-18
  3. L. L. Langness, Jim Turner
    Pages 65-80
  4. Keith T. Kernan, Linda Hubbard, Kristina Kennann
    Pages 81-99
  5. Robert D. Whittemore
    Pages 155-189
  6. Harold G. Levine, L. L. Langness
    Pages 191-206
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 207-212

About this book


Mental retardation in the United States is currently defined as " ... signif­ icantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, and manifested during the development period" (Grossman, 1977). Of the estimated six million plus mentally retarded individuals in this country fully 75 to 85% are considered to be "func­ tionally" retarded (Edgerton, 1984). That is, they are mildly retarded persons with no evident organic etiology or demonstrable brain pathology. Despite the relatively recent addition of adaptive behavior as a factor in the definition of retardation, 1.0. still remains as the essential diagnostic criterion (Edgerton, 1984: 26). An 1.0. below 70 indicates subaverage functioning. However, even such an "objective" measure as 1.0. is prob­ lematic since a variety of data indicate quite clearly that cultural and social factors are at play in decisions about who is to be considered "retarded" (Edgerton, 1968; Kamin, 1974; Langness, 1982). Thus, it has been known for quite some time that there is a close relationship between socio-economic status and the prevalence of mild mental retardation: higher socio-economic groups have fewer mildly retarded persons than lower groups (Hurley, 1969). Similarly, it is clear that ethnic minorities in the United States - Blacks, Mexican-Americans, American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, and others - are disproportionately represented in the retarded population (Mercer, 1968; Ramey et ai., 1978).


Pet adaptation anthropology behavior brain development etiology pathology population society

Editors and affiliations

  • L. L. Langness
    • 1
  • Harold G. Levine
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Culture and Retardation
  • Book Subtitle Life Histories of Mildly Mentally Retarded Persons in American Society
  • Editors L.L. Langness
    Harold G. Levine
  • Series Title Culture, Illness, and Healing
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1986
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-277-2177-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-90-277-2178-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-3711-6
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 212
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Anthropology
    Public Health
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


`Anyone who appreciates a careful biography that chronicles the individual's transactions with the human environment, shaped by it but also shaping it, will love this book. It portrays eight closely observed persons, and provides two scholarly chapters of integration and interpretation, including the qualities of the no-numeric methodologies employed.'
Dr. C. Edward Meyers, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Soutern California
`...this text is a must for all who are interested in mental retardation.'
Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1987)