Analysis Of The Secret Of The Wild Child: Documentary On Genie

1068 words - 5 pages

I watched the documentary “Secret of the Wild Child”, on a girl who was in isolation from birth to thirteen years old. Her name was Genie and is referred to as a feral child. This means she was without human contact from a young age, and has no experience of human care, social behavior, and, of the human language. Feral children are often known as being raised as animals and therefore imitating their behaviors. However, a child who is severely neglected is also considered a feral child. During the time she was discovered, around 1970, there was a major debate in the field of psychology. The famous nature verses nurture argument, meaning does genetics play a greater role in development or does one’s environment. In the case of Genie, the real focus was on her language development and deciphering if there was a critical age to learn a language.
On November 4, 1970 in Los Angeles, California Genie’s condition was brought to attention by a social worker. The worker discovered the 13-year old girl in a small, dimly lit, confined bedroom. An investigation by authorities exposed that the child had spent most of her life in this room and typically was tied to a potty chair. Genie was found in diapers because she was not potty trained. Her case is an example of extreme isolation from human contact, society, sunlight, and any other environments besides her room. The deprivation of attachment showed when she was timid to humans, almost afraid. Someone whose life was a developmental nightmare could not possibly be expected to have the basic trust that the world is trustworthy and predictable. The life she lived was incredibly horrifying as morals, and psychology portray just how severe the consequences were on Genie.
Genie’s father would beat her if she even made a single sound. Not surprisingly, this made her resist the urge to pursue the natural urge to put together sounds. Genie was for the most part alone so she could not imitate emotions that babies learned or pick up on the human language or normal human behavior. Consequently, she expressed the abilities of a one-year-old child. Genie can be compared to the rats in the Rozenzweig and Krench experiment. Since she as raised in an “impoverished environment”, she had an “impoverished brain cells” and had little observational learning practice.
Developmental Psychology was a huge part in the case of Genie. They were interested in studying her physical, cognitive, and social change. Her neglect caused her to be behind in her Piaget’s stages of Cognitive Development. Her sensorimotor stage was limited because she had little to look at, hear, touch, mouth and grasp. For her preoperational stage, she was unable to use words to represent things because she was beaten if she made a sound and also had little words spoken to her. She went through operant conditioning and learned to relate the sound behavior to the punishment and therefore her sounds diminished causing her to be silent. Her concrete...

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