Story of Genie Wiley (post 6)

I was so excited we were going to watch this in class.. It is such an interesting and tragic complex.. Consider the effects Genie’s enviornment would have on the average infant-toddler..

Genie Wiley was a child deprived. Found locked in her bedroom in November of 1970 at age thirteen, she held the figure of a seven year old. From the age of twenty months, when Genie first started uttering words, her parents took her to the doctor to find that Genie showed slight signs of possible mental retardation. Following this visit, Genie’s father took his parental obligation to provide and protect and turned on her. She was malnourished, isolated to confinement, locked to a potty chair during the day and strapped to her bed at night. Genie’s father, Clark, also forbade his wife Irene and son John to speak to her. She lived in almost total isolation.

When Genie was found, she had endured 13 years of sensory and social deprivation in the solitude of her bedroom. She was as much without human contact as if she had actually been raised in the wild, and, because of this state of abuse that she had suffered throughout childhood, she had not yet learned to speak. Research Psychologists went to work on her case, rescuing her from her state of isolation and abuse, and introducing her to a new world of security, growth, and learning. Especially close to her case were child psychologist Dr James Kent and linguist Susan Curtis, both whom had never seen a feral child case in such extremity.

Genie’s case has since seen a considerable amount of controversy in that after research showed little progression the effort lost interest as well as government funding and Genie was returned to her previous home. Her confirmed to be unstable mother claimed that she “wanted to care for her”. Genie now lives in an adult assisted living care facility for the mentally impaired.

Genie Wiley was a beautiful, delicate, and wild child; victim to deprivation. She did not have the environment that most children grow up in, where learning and progression is encouraged; instead she was rejected and beaten to a point that proved to be irreversible. Although it is an optimistic view to think that with more coaching and psychological counseling Genie might have been able to restore herself to her total potential, to me it seems that sadly, this effort is unrealistic. Children need encouragement, love, and security to grow, something that Genie will never have the chance to fully know.

Kellie Gibson


~ by alicefairinloveandwar on November 1, 2009.

3 Responses to “Story of Genie Wiley (post 6)”

  1. I had seen this before too. I think it’s interesting that she missed the language development part but did later begin to use sign language and other non verbal communication. It seems to confirm there is a window of opportunity for verbal language skills.

  2. Well, another thing is that there wasn’t just one thing working her. Years of abuse were also factors that have to be teased apart in studying her deficits. Her environment wasn’t one that fostered intellectual growth in general, nor provide sense experiences that we all take for granted. She missed many sensitive years where children are disposed to gain langauge as well as other things. No secure attachments,etc.

    • True. Its all very sad that some children realistically endure this sort of poisonous enviornment. Thanks for the comment.

      Kellie Gibson

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