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Kendra Cherry

Genie: One of History's Most Famous Feral Children

By August 7, 2012

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If you've ever taken a psychology class or read about feral children, then you've probably heard mention of the child known as Genie. For most of her first 13 years, she lived a life of utter deprivation. Much of her childhood was spent tied to a potty chair in an empty room. She was rarely spoken to, and her father often beat her when she would make noise.

By the time she was discovered at age 13, Genie was malnourished and unable to use language. Her story made headlines and also captured the attention of psychologists and linguists. Could a child who had missed the critical period for language development ever learn to speak and communicate normally?

A rehabilitation and research team set out to answer that question, but professional rivalries and debates over the girl's treatment posed major problems. Her tragic case serves not only as an example of the effects of social deprivation, but inspires debate about whether the research on Genie interfered with her treatment.

Learn more about her story and what happened to the young girl known as Genie.

Comments

August 11, 2012 at 5:04 am
(1) Aayush says:

Interesting yet very sad. Hope she is doing alright now.

December 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm
(2) Rachel says:

She’s not doing alright. It’s horrible.

January 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm
(3) ReneeyB says:

What a sad story, thank God she was found alive!

February 2, 2013 at 1:54 am
(4) Saffron says:

Very sad. Abused people are not specimens. Why do they take the already suffering and make things worse. They even do it with patients who have mental illness. They care too much for information and nothing about their specimens.

April 10, 2013 at 11:42 am
(5) Naheda says:

Saffron, she needed a figure to form an attachment with, feel secure and begin to explore her new environment. Whilst the psychologists provided care for her, they also worked on finding explanation and evidence for relationship/social deprivation and language aquisition – and she showed great progress unlike most feral children.

April 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm
(6) Bethany says:

genie was a very unusual human being yes there was no need to make her a specimen but we have probably seen nothing like this before she had no contact so that meant she couldnt talk a child so frail like this must of been treat in a horrid way!

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