Case Study of a Feral Child - Genie Wiley

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Susan Wiley (‘Genie’) Genie was discovered on 4th November 1970 in Los Angeles.The thirteen year old girl had been confined to a small room and spent most of her life often tied to a potty chair.The girl was given the name Genie to protect her identity and privacy. "The case name is Genie. This is not the person's real name, but when we think about what a genie is, a genie is a creature that comes out of a bottle or whatever, but emerges into human society past childhood. We assume that it really isn't a creature that had a human childhood,” explained Susan Curtiss in a documentary called Secrets of the Wild Child (1997).Both parents were charged with abuse, but Genie's father committed suicide the day before he was due to appear in court, leaving behind a note stating that "the world will never understand."Before she was discovered, she spent most of her days tied naked to her potty chair only able to move her hands and feet. When she made noise, her father would beat her. Her father, mother, and brother rarely spoke to her. The rare times her father did interact with her, it was to bark or growl. Both the general public and also the scientific community were interested in her case. Psycholinguist and author Harlan Lee explained that "our morality doesn’t allow us to conduct deprivation experiments with human beings, these unfortunate people are all we have to go on."With so much interest in her case, the question became what should be done with her. A team of psychologists and language experts began the process of rehabilitating Genie.The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provided funding for scientific research on Genie’s case.When she arrived at UCLA, she weighed only 59 pounds (26.8kg) and she moved with a strange "bunny walk." She often spat and was unable to
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straighten her arms and legs. She was silent, incontinent, and unable to chew, she seemed to only recognize her own name and the word "sorry."After testing her cognitive and emotional abilities, psychologist James Kent described her as "the most profoundly damaged child I've ever seen… Genie's life is a wasteland."Her silence and inability to use language made it difficult to assess her mental abilities, but on tests she scored at about the level of a one-year-old.She quickly progressed in certain areas like going to the toilet and dressing herself, and over the next few months, she began to experience more ...

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