Intellectual Disability: A Critical Concept Analysis

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Abstract

Over the last number of years, the emergence of new scientific and social constructions of intellectual disability has contributed to many terminological, conceptual, and structural changes. As a result, the expression “mental retardation” has gradually been abandoned in favor of “intellectual disability” for classification and diagnosis. In addition to helping redefine intellectual disability, the implementation of new deinstitutionalized mechanisms of governmentality required the adoption of different clinical models. Concrete applications of those models have yet to be studied in nursing practice. The main objective of this article is to analyze the concept of intellectual disability in light of recent developments to clarify its philosophical bases, influence, and relevance for clinical practice. This concept analysis was realized following a literature review of scientific articles and monographs addressing topics related to intellectual disability. Inspired by a poststructuralist approach, we will discuss about the ambiguity of nurses' role regarding people labeled as having an intellectual disability. Lastly, we will address the clinical implications of our analysis and we will propose an actualized understanding of the nursing practice in such context.

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