Current controversies over the welfare of the mentally retarded are evident in bold relief in three discussions of the plight and future of institutions. One participant traces the problem to a prejudice with which we have historically greeted people who are different and which has now become a sickness affecting all of society. Another deplores a rampant welfarism that has denuded families of a sense of personal responsibility and has encouraged “institutionalization” as a convenient solution to the problems of our most needy citizens. The last author calls for a remolding of the institutional mission and a reduction of that negativism which is the special province of the academic community. In total, these debates attempt to provide a theoretical underpinning for decisions that will affect the well-being of the mentally retarded for decades to come.
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