When Is a Handbook a Handbook?

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1994, Vol 39(1), 46–47. Reviews the book, Handbook of Mental Retardation (2nd ed.) edited by Johnny L. Matson and James A. Mulick (1991). This work is composed of eight sections reflecting the broad concerns of social policy, basic knowledge and concepts, and applications such as assessment and treatment. Within a set of specific biases, it is comprehensive but not precisely balanced. A whole section is devoted to the topic of classification at a time in the history of this field when classification is a far less important function than it has been. It is reasonable at least to question whether this topic merits almost one-sixth of the total pages of the book. On a broader dimension, the book is weighted toward psychology and education, with less weight given to biological and social sciences. Even so, the imbalance occurs as much by overinclusion of material relating to psychology, education, and policy issues as by slighting of the biological sciences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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