The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a branch of science that is concerned with the study of the principles and characteristics of the development of children with physical and mental defects and the problems of their training and upbringing.

There are a number of special pedagogical sciences in defectology, including surdopedagogy (for bringing up and training children with hearing defects), typhlopedagogy (for children with visual defects); oligophrenopedagogy (for mentally retarded children); and logopedics (for children with speech defects). Defectology also includes problems of training and bringing up children with compound defects (blindness with deafmutism, blindness or deafmutism with intellectual impairments, etc.). Defectology includes in addition a special branch of psychology that deals with the psychological study of the development of children with the abovementioned defects, as well as surdotechnology and typhlotechnology, which are involved in the development of the technical means of training, correcting, and compensating for the defect. In defectology there is a continual differentiation and development of new fields (for example, the study of children with temporary arrests in mental development and of children with motor impairments); included in defectology are problems connected with the general education and vocational training of adults with defects, such as vision or hearing impairments.

As an integrated branch of knowledge, defectology takes shape as a result of the development and convergence of its various fields and the establishment of general principles for the development, training, and upbringing of children with different types of defects. Of great significance in elucidating these principles is the adoption of a complex, multilateral approach to the study of anomalous children, with the participation of educators, physicians, physiologists, psychologists, and other specialists.

The clinicophysiological and psychological study of anomalous children is the scientific basis of the special pedagogical sciences that are included in defectology. The data compiled from this research provide the basis for answering questions concerning time length, systems, and methods in the training and upbringing of children with some type of developmental disturbance; the data also assist in the resolving of problems concerning ways and means of correcting and compensating for developmental defects through a system of special training and education, including preparation for socially useful labor.

Defectology is closely allied with a number of related sciences, including neuropathology, pathophysiology, general and medical genetics, pathopsychology, educational and child psychology, general pedagogy, and linguistics. It in turn provides unique material for these sciences and for the theory of knowledge.

Soviet defectology was formed in the struggle against idealist concepts in the principles of the development of the anomalous child; these concepts had given birth to a theory about the severe limitation of possibilities of development in anomalous children, reducing the principal task of defectology to the adaptation of anomalous children to elementary physical labor. Favorable to the development of Soviet defectology were the legislative acts of the Soviet government, whereby the training and education of anomalous children were included in the national system of public education; later, general compulsory education of these children was instituted, and special scientific research institutions and educational institutions for training defectology specialists were created as well. Problems of defectology are being worked out scientifically in the USSR at the Scientific Research Institute of Defectology of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR (Moscow), at institutes of pedagogy and psychology in the Ukrainian SSR (Kiev), and in certain other scientific institutions, as well as in subdepartments of departments of defectology at pedagogical institutes. Considerable scientific methodological work is being conducted by teachers of special schools. Collections that have been published include Training and Educational Work in Special Schools (1940-57) and The Special School (1958-68). The journal Defectology has been published since 1969.

Abroad (aside from socialist countries), instead of the concept of “defectology,” the more limited concept of “special education” is applied, which narrows the field of defectology as a science and which has to a considerable degree a pragmatic tendency. Also common in the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is the narrower concept of “therapeutic education” (Heilpddagogik).


Dobrova, A. D. Ocherk istorii sovetskoi defektologii (1917-29). Moscow, 1952. (Dissertation.)
Osnovy obucheniia i vospitaniia anomal’nykh detei. Moscow, 1965.
D’iachkov, A. I. “Razvitie sovetskoi defektologii.” Sovetskaia pedagogika, 1967, no. 9.
Defektologicheskii slovar’, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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