Genie – The Feral Child

Genie is the nickname given to a 13 year old girl who was discovered in November 1970 after spending her life abused and neglected by her parents. Genie spent her whole life locked in a small dark room which had its windows covered apart from 3 inches at the top – this was the only natural light the girl ever experienced. She spent her days strapped to a child’s potty by a homemade restrain and her nights tied into a caged bed with her arms and legs completely immobilised. Genie spent 13 years in almost total isolation as her father forbade her mother and brother from communicating with her. It was even said that close neighbours were oblivious to the child’s existence completely.

When Genie was found by services, she was the size of a six year old child and had no sense of language as she was never taught how to speak. The 13 year old girl was also found to be still wearing nappies and could barely walk.

Genie’s mother and father were both arrested for abuse, however, her father committed suicide a day before he was due to appear in court. He left a note behind stating “the world will never understand”.

When Psychologist’s heard about Genie, they seen it as a perfect opportunity in order to research into the theory of how it was believed that if children didn’t develop a language by a certain age, they miss the chance of developing it completely. The psychologists found Genie to not be mentally deficient, however, her traumatic past was haunting her. Today’s brain science studies show Genie’s left side of the brain, which is responsible for speech and language, to have become smaller and smaller due to being starved of stimulation. This process continued until her brain physically changed. As Genie’s brain was unstimulated, it was unable to develop the capacity for language. This means that, once Genie was found when beginning her teenage years, it was now impossible for her to develop language. These studies proved the theory to be correct.

Overall, I believe Genie’s story is a great example of how brain development is affected by the environment. As she was isolated in a dark room with no interaction from anyone, it affected her ability to learn how to speak as over the years, her brain had no capacity for a language to be learnt.

3 thoughts on “Genie – The Feral Child

  1. Lauren DuncanLauren Duncan

    Sam this is so interesting! It’s traumatic to hear about these poor children’s experiences, but it is so useful to link them to what is brought up in lectures. I definitely agree this is a great example of how brain development can be affected.

    Reply
    1. MooneyMooney Post author

      Thanks Lauren. I found it really interesting researching into how the environment can have an impact on brain development as I didn’t realise the extent it could affect someone.

      Reply
  2. Rebecca Birrell

    I was so shocked when I read this Sam. It’s horrible to believe that somebody could be treated in such an inhumane way. This a great example of brain development and I found it very interesting to read 🙂

    Reply

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