The Nature and Incidence of Mental Illness in Mentally Retarded Individuals

  • Julie A. Parsons
  • Jack G. MayJr.
  • Frank J. Menolascino


The presence or absence of mental illness plays a crucial role in determining the quality of a mentally retarded person’s adjustment to community and family life. Mental illnesses have long been recognized as a primary factor leading to the institutionalization of mentally retarded individuals.1,2 Study after study highlights the importance of mental illness as a factor leading to institutionalization and/or failure in community adjustment. Penrose3 concluded that emotional instability is one of the most important contributing factors in the selection of mentally retarded individuals for institutionalization. Penrose stated,

It may be doubted if mental illness, whether in the form of epilepsy, neurosis or psychosis, should be regarded as a true cause of intellectual defect, but it is quite certain that mental illness is a very important contributory factor in the selection of cases... seen in institutions “and these cases” [sic] are only a small sample of all those of comparable ability in the general population. They require care and control because they are out of harmony with their social environments, and often this is due to a mentally disordered state. (p. 198)


Mental Illness Mental Retardation Personality Disorder Dual Diagnosis Mental Deficiency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie A. Parsons
    • 1
  • Jack G. MayJr.
    • 2
  • Frank J. Menolascino
    • 3
  1. 1.Palo Alto Center for Stress Related DisordersPalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Nebraska Psychiatric InstituteUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA

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