What Happens to a Child When Isolated for Over a Decade?
The tragic tale of Genie Wiley
Children are human offspring usually in need of great care to develop properly. Delicate care often needs to go into the development of children just to avoid the problems that may trail them later in life. It is appropriate to state that a good developmental base would do wonders for a child.
It is with great displeasure that I state that this is often not the case and the results of such actions painfully come to haunt us. While some may get trauma and other debilitating diseases, others could further lose a grip on their lives and probably never recover due to the mistakes of their parents.
This was the unfortunate tale of Genie, a young and innocent girl who did not deserve to live as she did in her childhood.
Genie was born to an already broken family. The negatively potent mix of trauma and other mental issues that plagued her mother and father were already her undoings even before she was born.
Her father lived in a broken home raised by a single mother running a brothel. Notably, one of the traits that highlighted this man’s apathy was his hatred for children.
This hatred for children did not stop him from having kids over and over again. He did it over and over again but the last child he had was treated in a manner that an individual wouldn’t even treat an animal.
For the first few months, Genie had fair access to nutrition and parental care. This was certainly not sustained and the results of this horrific upbringing(if we can call it that) were to emerge thirteen years later.
Early signs of possible mental retardation were pointed out when a 14-month Genie was taken to the pediatrician for a bout of illness. This further cemented her father’s assumptions that she was mentally retarded.
The beginning of the madness was when her paternal grandmother died and her father fell into incredible grief that made him conclude that:
He needed to protect his family from the outside world
But when do the lines between protection and deprivation get blurred?
Genie was discovered by social service workers in 1970. Her condition was pitiable and nothing short of horrific.
By looking at her picture, you wouldn’t conclude that she had lived primarily in inhumane conditions such as the ones she did. Her father tied her down to a toilet seat using a harness most of her day and at night she was tied in a sleeping bag.
On top of this, she was allowed little to no social interaction and beatings for rudimentary reasons. What did this lead to?
Her discovery led to lots of curiosity as many theories could now be investigated and understood. Here we had a feral child who needed care and had not been socialized. Did she know any language? Could she understand social context? Could she develop any of these skills if she hadn’t learned them?
Genie was damaged. Her language skills and intelligence were comparable to that of a one-year-old. Further investigation showed that all the restraining she experienced limited her motor skills and she could not walk in a proper gait.
According to the social worker who saw Genie, she estimated that she was about half her age just by looking at her. She realized something must have been wrong and she tipped off the police.
Genie had been deprived of nutrition, social interaction and exposed to all kinds of abuse including possible sexual abuse as she used to masturbate in appropriate settings and much more inhumanity.
Even as she was put under the care of the government, a lot of politics surrounding her custody and trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding her life still made her entrapped in this madness.
Eventually, Genie was given the chance to lead her life under care by the state of California free from the insanity that prevailed in her early life. Unfortunately, sometimes it is possible to completely break a human to the point of making them feral.
Genie’s case is a lesson for the whole world on what horrible parents and abuse could do to children. The damage done to that poor child could never be repaired.
Cherry, Kendra. “The Story of “Genie,” a Child Deprived of Nearly All Human Contact.” Verywell Mind. Last modified August 6, 2012. https://www.verywellmind.com/genie-the-story-of-the-wild-child-2795241#toc-genies-story.
Sterbenz, Christina. “The Heartbreaking Story Of Genie, A Feral Child Who Will Never Learn To Communicate.” Business Insider. Last modified October 9, 2013. https://www.businessinsider.com/critical-period-for-language-acquisition-2013-10?r=US&IR=T