Genie the Wild Child

Genie the Wild Child Essay

More than 150 years ago, Sir Francis Galton came up with the phrase “nature versus education.” Since that time, scientists tried to research what has a bigger effect on the psychological development of a person – whether it is his heredity or the environment, where he lives. The term “wild children” is understood to mean a young boy or girl, being abandoned or caught when they were deprived of all sorts of interaction with the civilization. As a result, such children were usually brought up among animals. They often lack social skills, not always acquiring even such a simple skill as speaking. Wild children are trained on the basis of what they see around them, but the conditions, like the ways of knowing, differ markedly from normal conditions. The fiction stories about well-known Mowgli and Tarzan are based on the real facts. In many places of the world, people used to find children who grew up in the wild. Each of these children had a hard time growing up in incredible wild conditions. Some of them were raised by animals, for others, the wild conditions became an asylum because of their insane parents with obvious mental deviations.

For those experts, who are professionally engaged in the psychology or the study of wild children, the name of Genie is certainly familiar. Genie is not the girl’s real name, but a pseudonym given by the researchers in order to guarantee her anonymity. According to the linguist Susan Curtis, who worked with Genie, the girl was like a genie from a bottle, which, passing the childhood, suddenly came up in society. That was Genie’s secret of the wild child – she did not have what people call childhood. When she was a very small, Genie’s father decided that she was mentally retarded and locked her with a children’s toilet pot in a small room at home. She lived in this solitary confinement for more than 10 years. She even slept on this stool. One time, her father tied her up in a sleeping bag and put her in that form in the crib. She was 13 years old when, in 1970, she and her mother came to the hospital, where a social worker examined the state of the girl. She was without a chair, but she jumped sideways like a rabbit. The girl immediately became the object of research. At first, she was thought to be autistic, until the doctors found out that the 13-year-old girl was a victim of the violence in her family. Her father was extremely abusive of his power – if the girl tried to talk, then he beat her with a stick so that she behaved quietly, he humiliated her and growled at her. The man also forbade his wife and children to talk to her. Because of this, Gene had a very small vocabulary – she knew only about 20 words. So, she knew the phrases “Stop,” “No more.” Genie was just spitting and scratching herself. Gradually she learned to speak a few words, but could not combine them grammatically. Later, she learned to read simple texts, and even developed certain forms of social behavior. Genie got into a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, where she was treated for many years. After several courses she was able to answer monosyllabically for questions, she learned how to dress. Nevertheless, she still adhered to the behavior she had learned, including the manner of the walking bunny. The girl kept her hands in front of her as if it were her hands. Jean continued to scratch, leaving deep marks on things. As a result, she was sheltered by the therapist David Rigler. He worked with her every day for 4 years. As a result, the doctor and his family were able to teach the girl the language of gestures, the ability to express oneself not only with words but with drawings. When Genie left the therapist, she went to her mother, but she had not to live with her. Then, she was placed in unsuccessful foster families, where she suffered from violence and harassment as well. With them, she was unlucky, they made Genie become dumb again, she began to be afraid to talk. As a result, Genie returned to the children’s hospital, where she was found that she had regressed back to the total silence. Financing of Genie’s treatment and examination of her mental condition was stopped in 1974, and after then nothing was known about her until a private detective discovered her in a private institution for mentally retarded people.

The story of Genie clearly demonstrates the role of education at the early age. All children pass through the critical periods of their development. These are very important stages of a child’s growing, when his nervous system is more susceptible to learning, from two years before the puberty. If during this period he does not have adequate stimulation of the environment, it will be difficult for him to form correct behavioral models. From such deprivation, his intellectual functions, social behavior, and personality suffer most.