Diagnosing Mr. Jefferson: Retrospectives on developmental disabilities at Monticello.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
J. David Smith, Professor, Department Chair (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: For a number of years, I have been intrigued by what might be termed the retrospective diagnosis of developmental disabilities. In my book Minds Made Feeble: The Myth and Legacy of the Kallikaks (J. Smith, 1985), I expressed amazement that psychologist Henry Goddard in his study of the “good” and “bad” Kallikak families pronounced that a woman who had an illegitimate child in 1776 was “feebleminded.” This was 136 years after the birth of the child. In fact, Goddard diagnosed entire generations of Kallikaks who neither he nor anyone alive at that time had ever seen, let alone tested with even the most rudimentary of diagnostic techniques. Yet when his study was published in 1912, he asserted with confidence that he had found proof of a genetic basis for intellectual disabilities in these families.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
developmental disabilities, diagnosing disabilities, retrospective diagnosis, psychology

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