Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 54 Issue 2 (June 1981), Pages 93-201

The psychotherapy of a subnormal patient (pages 187-199)

This paper is a resumé of the treatment of a man, aged 33 at the beginning of treatment, whose IQ was said to be 59. I had reason to believe that it was higher than this.

The account covers a period of two years, during which time I saw him regularly once a week. At the end of two years, he told me he did not wish to come any more. I do not know whether the treatment was a success or a failure. My purpose in presenting this treatment is to stimulate further discussion on this subject, challenge the assumption that psychotherapy requires a normal or above‐normal IQ to be successful, and to investigate the aetiology of mental retardation. This two‐year period of treatment was extremely enlightening and opened many avenues of thought which are presented here only in the most embryonic form. So I start with the background to the case and some of the reasons why I decided to take him into treatment, then a summary of the course of the treatment and finally a discussion of some theoretical issues of psychological interest.

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