Genie

When a child is not exposed to a language, he or she loses the ability to verbally communicate with the outside world.  In other words, he or she is completely socially isolated – just like Genie was for a period of time.  “Humans have a critical age threshold for language acquisition“, and therefore cannot acquire language after that time if left ignored (Rymer, 2004).  However, with extensive research and attention, Genia was able to vocalize and communicate through sign language. 

I believe that all the people (including doctors, nurses, researchers, and scientists) who played a part in Genie’s life had good intentions.  They wanted to help her and find out more about the limits and expectations of language acquisition.  However, I think where these people went wrong was overlooking the fact that Genie needed a permanent home.  Being verbally and physically abused at such a young age and then moving around from place to place as she got older must have been extremely hard on Genie.  I am sure she lacked the security and trust for her caretakers most children have growing up.  Instead of worrying more about the research and data collection, the people involved should have been more worried about finding Genie a stable and secure home. 

The story of Genie is a sad and horrific one – one that will never be forgotten.  I hope this situation is not put on another child ever again, but if it happens… I hope people will be more responsible and and caring about the well-being of the child. 

Rymer, R (1994). Genie: a scientific tragedy. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092465-9

Marissa Hayes

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~ by Marissa Hayes on November 3, 2009.

2 Responses to “Genie”

  1. I greatly agree with your post. I like how you brought in the point that Genie lacked a permanent home. Although that factor may not seem important to some I can believe that it put some stress on Genie to move from place to place. Because of her prior situation with her father, I believe she never was able to grow to being a secure child. And due to that insecurity I believe it was emphasized when she was being moved around. I really enjoyed reading your post!

    Ashley Crawford

  2. I also agree with this post. I do believe the behaviorists had good intentions, but sometimes people can get so caught up in what they are doing and can forget that this was an actually human they were dealing with. I believe David Rigler (I think) was the one who also agreed that Genie needed a home and some attachment, and took her in for 6 years. Thanks, good post.

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