The authors compared the type and number of life events experienced by
19 mentally retarded patients and 19 nonretarded control subjects in the
month before their admission to the same unit of a state mental hospital.
The retarded patients had exhibited fewer changes in eating and other
personal habits. On admission they presented fewer signs of intrapsychic
disturbance but more of self-destruction or aggression. These results imply
that clinicians need specific training to diagnose and treat psychiatric
disorders in the mentally retarded patients who now use community mental
health facilities, because their presentations may be atypical.