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The Heartbreaking Case Of Genie Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

Social isolation is one of the most severe punishments known to man. However, for one innocent girl, known as Genie, social isolation was all she knew. Genie was a nickname given to a feral 13-year-old girl who had been a victim of being severely abused and neglected by her parents, in her own house in Arcadia, California. Prior to Genie being discovered in 1970 by Los Angeles child welfare authorities, much of her life consisted of being locked alone in her room strapped to a potty chair or a crib resulting in her being immobile (Reynolds & Fletcher-Janzen, 2004). While Genie was locked away in her room she was never exposed to speech and would get beat for any noises she would make. Her father, Clark Wiley only interacted with her through barking and growling at her; as a result of this extreme isolation Genie missed the critical period to acquire language (Curtiss et al., 1974; Reynolds & Fletcher-Janzen, 2004). Immediately after Genie had been found she became a new subject for researchers to study and examine the theories of critical periods on humans to learn and understand language. Unfortunately, soon after Genie turned 18, her mother forbid any of the scientists from anymore testing and observations, which ultimately decreased any and all process Genie had made towards learning and understanding language.
Genie’s abuse and social isolation was mainly a result of her father’s decision and justification that Genie was severely mentally retarded and believed hiding her from the world was the best option for everyone (Curtiss, 1988). The only visual stimuli that Genie could interact with were her potty chair, crib, carpet, and plain empty walls. Genie’s severe neglect and abuse in her childhood ultimately lead her to be such an extreme case for researchers. However, there currently is no way to determine if Genie ever did exhibit any form of mental retardation, because the effects of her childhood eliminate any chances to discovery if Genie actually presented a disability from birth or not. Genie is one of the few cases researchers have that suggest and implies that there is a critical period for acquiring and learning language.
Genie’s unique case of extreme social isolation from noise, stimulation, and interaction during her first 13 years of life as a result of her parents neglect and abuse shocked the nation for years. Genie’s case in itself is completely abnormal to society. However, from Genie’s isolated life and traumatic experiences she was forced to endure while living at her home in California, it really comes to no surprise that she is currently is left with posttraumatic stress disorder and missed the critical period for language.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is categorized under Trauma- and Stress- or- Related Disorders in the newest edition of the DSM-5. Posttraumatic stress disorder, according to the DSM-5 is “triggered from being exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, and...

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