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Efficacy and specificity of pharmacological therapies for behavioral disorders in persons with mental retardation.

This review assesses the efficacy and specificity of psychotropic medications used to control aberrant behavior in persons with mental retardation. It is concluded that neuroleptics, the most widely used psychotropic agents in this population, suppress aberrant behavior, but do so by suppressing behavior generally. An exception to this conclusion is that it may be possible to selectively suppress stereotyped behavior with neuroleptics. In addition, the empirical evidence indicates that, in some persons with mental retardation, opioid antagonists and methylphenidate are useful therapies for self-injurious behavior and hyperactivity, respectively. Lithium and beta-blockers are potentially useful for treating aggression.

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