Genie (feral child) Genie is the pseudonym of a feral child who was the victim of one of the most severe cases of abuse and neglect ever documented. She spent most of her first thirteen years of life locked inside a bedroom, strapped to a child's toilet or bound inside a crib with her arms and legs immobilized. Genie's abuse came to the attention of Los Angeles child welfare authorities on November 4, Genie 1970. In the first several years after Genie's life and circumstances came to light, psychologists, linguists and other scientists focused a great deal of attention on Genie's case, seeing in her near-total social isolation an opportunity to study acquisition of language skills and linguistic development. Scrutiny of their new-found human subject enabled them to publish academic works testing theories and hypotheses identifying critical periods during which humans learn to understand and use language. During the course of their research, Genie gradually started to acquire and develop new language skills. When funding and research interest eventually waned, those skills regressed. Genie displaying her characteristic "bunny walk" shortly after she was rescued at the age of 13. Born 1957 (age 55вЂ“56) Arcadia, California Nationality American Initially cared for at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Genie's livKnown for Victim of severe abuse ing arrangements later became the subject of rancorous debate and litigation. She was repeatedly uprooted, first moving to the houses of the researchers who studied her, then foster homes, her mother's house, and finally to a sheltered home for adults with disabilities. As of 2008, she was in psychological confinement and a ward of the state of California; her real name and where she currently resides remain undisclosed. Genie's case has been extensively compared with that of Victor of Aveyron, an eighteenth-century French child whose life was similarly turned into a case study for researchers into delayed development and language acquisition. Early history Early life Genie was the fourth and last child of parents living in Arcadia, California. Her father worked in a factory as a flight mechanic during World War II and got a job in the aviation industry after the war ended. Her mother had come to California as a teenager fleeing the Dust Bowl. Their marriage had been opposed by her mother's family. Although the couple seemed happy to those who knew them, he began beating her with increasing frequency as time went on. From the outset of their relationship, her father was adamant that he did not want children. Nevertheless, after about five years of marriage a daughter was born. Despite frequent beatings by her husband during the latter part of her pregnancy, the child appeared to have been healthy. Disturbed by her crying, her father placed the infant in the garage. She died of pneumonia at 10 weeks old. A second child, a boy, had Rh incompatibility and died at two days of age, allegedly from choking on his own mucus. Another son was born three years later, once again with Rh incompatibility. He was slow to develop, and was late to walk and talk. When he was four, his paternal grandmother grew concerned about her son's increasing instability and took over her grandson's care; he made good progress before eventually being returned to his family. Around the time Genie was born, her father began to isolate himself and his family from those around them. Soon after Genie's birth, she too showed signs of Rh incompatibility, requiring a blood transfusion. Otherwise she was born at a healthy weight and size. A medical appointment at three months showed that she was gaining weight normally, but that she had a congenital hip dislocation which required splinting for seven months. At subsequent appointments up to the age of 11 months she was noted as alert and to be sitting up alone, but falling behind on her weight gain. Her mother later recalled that Genie was not a cuddly baby and resisted eating solid food. When she was 14 months old, Genie came down with a fever and was examined by a pediatrician; he said that although he was unable to make any definitive diagnosis due to her illness, there was a possibility she might be mentally retarded. He also suggested the brain dysfunction kernicterus might be present; Rh incompatibility is a risk factor for kernicterus. Her father took the pediatrician's opinion to mean that Genie was severely retarded, using it as justification for isolating and abusing her. When Genie was 20 months old, her grandmother was killed in a hit-and-run accident. According to Genie's mother and brother, her father, who already had problems controlling his anger, was deeply affected by his mother's death, becoming nearly delusional with rage when the truck's driver received only a probationary sentence. After the sentencing, her father quit his job and further increased the family's isolation. The family moved into the dead grandmother's two-bedroom house; the grandmother's bedroom was maintained untouched, as a shrine. Genie was increasingly confined to the second bedroom, while the rest of the family slept in the living room. From the time Genie was born her father had displayed hostility toward her, discouraging his wife from paying any attention to her. After his mother's death and the outcome of the subsequent trial, he sought to hide Genie's existence entirely. During the day, she was tied to a child's toilet in a makeshift harness designed to keep her from moving her arms or legs, wearing nothing but diapers. At night, when her father did not forget about her, she was bound in a sleeping bag and placed in a crib with a metal-screen cover, her arms and legs immobilized. Researchers concluded that Genie's father kept a large wooden plank in her room and beat her with it if she vocalized, barking and growling at her to keep her quiet; this instilled an intense fear of cats and dogs that persisted long after she was freed. She was fed no solid food; instead, she was fed baby food, cereal, an occasional soft-boiled egg, and liquids. Food was shoved into her mouth as quickly as possible, and if she choked or could not swallow it fast enough it would be rubbed into her face. Bowing to pressure to keep contact with his sister to a minimum, her brother, who was himself subjected to frequent beatings by their father, was often forced to feed Genie in this manner. Once, when Genie was suffering from constipation, her father forced her to drink an entire bottle of castor oil. The only stimuli she experienced from outside her family came by way of two windows, through which she could hear occasional noises and see both the side of a neighboring house and a couple inches of the sky. On rare occasions her father would also allow her to play with plastic food containers, old spools of thread, TV Guides with the illustrations cut out, and two plastic raincoats. He had an extremely low tolerance for noise, to the point of refusing to have a working television or radio in the house, and almost never allowed Genie's mother or brother to speak; they were particularly forbidden to speak to or around Genie, which prevented her from hearing any language other than her father's occasional swearing. He rarely permitted anyone to leave the house, frequently sitting in the living room with a shotgun in his lap to discourage disobedience. Genie's mother was almost completely blind because of severe cataracts, a detached retina, and neurological damage from a childhood accident. She was essentially passive by nature to begin with. Her husband threatened to kill her if she attempted to contact her parents, close friends who lived nearby, or the police. He was convinced that Genie would die by age 12 and promised that if she survived past that age he would allow his wife to seek outside assistance, but reneged when Genie turned 12; Genie's mother took no action for another year. Rescue In early November 1970, after they had a violent argument, Genie's mother left her husband and took Genie with her. Genie's brother, by then 18, had already run away from home. Seeking disability benefits on account of her near-blindness, she inadvertantly entered the wrong welfare office in Temple City, California, accompanied by Genie. The social worker who greeted them was shocked to learn that Genie's true age was 13, having estimated from her appearance that she was around half that age, and possibly autistic. Genie's parents were arrested, and Genie was taken to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Physician James Kent, an early advocate for child abuse awareness, examined her. He later stated this examination revealed by far the most severe case of child abuse he had ever seen. In the house the family had been living in, police found detailed notes written by Genie's father, chronicling both his mistreatment of his family and his efforts to conceal it. Two weeks later, on the morning before a scheduled court appearance on charges of child abuse, Genie's father committed suicide by gunshot; he left two suicide notes, one for the police and one for his son. One contained the declaration, "The world will never understand." Genie's mother, represented by attorney John Miner, told the court that beatings at the hands of her spouse and her near-total blindness had left her unable to intervene on Genie's behalf. The charges against her were subsequently dropped, and she received counseling at Children's Hospital. The following year, Miner was named Genie's legal guardian. Coincidentally, the movie The Wild Child premiered in the United States only a week after Genie's rescue. The film, chronicling the life of Victor of Aveyron, heightened public interest in cases of children subjected to extreme abuse or isolation. Hypotheses of Noam Chomsky and Eric Lenneberg about the innateness and acquisition of language were being widely discussed in lay as well as academic circles, but there had been no way to test their hypotheses. Though ancient texts made several references to language deprivation experiments, modern researchers labeled such ideas "The Forbidden Experiment," impossible to carry out for ethical reasons. Prompted by this coincidence of timing, and having screened The Wild Child at an early seminar as an inspiration for ideas, therapist David Rigler and a team of Children's Hospital scientists sought and obtained a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health вЂ‹(NIMH) to study Genie in May 1971. The primary focus of their research was to test Lenneberg's theory that humans have a critical age threshold for language acquisition. They also planned evaluations of Genie's psychological development, in various aspects of her life. It was at this stage that researchers adopted the pseudonym Genie for their subject, to try to protect her and conceal her identity. The name was a reference to parallels researchers saw between Genie's sudden emergence into society from captivity and a genie's sudden emergence from a bottle. At around the same time, Susan Curtiss began her work on Genie's case, as a graduate student in linguistics under Victoria Fromkin; Curtiss would go on to become one of the most influential figures in Genie's subsequent life. She used video and transcripts from the hospital to piece together Genie's progress in the time before they met. Together with Fromkin, she tested Genie and tracked her language acquisition, writing numerous papers that covered various aspects of Genie's progress. When Curtiss first met Genie, she realized Genie's language abilities were not yet at a level that could be usefully tested, so she decided to devote the summer to sim- ply getting to know Genie and gaining her friendship. She started accompanying Dr. Kent on trips outside the hospital with Genie; she and Genie very quickly bonded with each other. Characteristics and personality Genie was severely undersized for her age, standing 4'6" and weighing only 59 pounds. Her gross motor skills were extremely weak; she could not stand up straight or do anything requiring her to fully straighten her arms or legs. She could not focus her eyes on anything more than 10 feet away, and her characteristic "bunny walk", in which she held her hands in front of her like claws, suggested an inability to integrate visual and tactile information. As she could not chew solid food she would hold her food in her mouth until her saliva broke it down, and would spit it out if the process took too long. She could barely swallow, and had almost two full sets of teeth in her mouth, requiring oral surgery. The restraining harness her father used to immobilize her caused a thick callus and heavy black bruising on her buttocks, which took several weeks to heal. She was also completely incontinent. At first, she would not allow anyone to touch her. Early on, she showed interest in many members of the hospital staff, but showed no signs of attachment to anyone in particular, including members of her own family; she paid no attention to her brother and only briefly noticed her mother when they visited her. She initially understood only about 15-20 words and was almost entirely mute, with an active vocabulary of two short phrases, "stop it" and "no more". Although she almost never vocalized, she continually sniffed, salivated, spat and clawed. When upset she would scratch and strike herself, never crying or making any noise. Like Victor of Aveyron, she seemed unaffected by certain strong sensations, in particular showing almost complete insensitivity to temperature; even years later, when she was allowed to bathe and shower by herself, researchers observed that she would use extremely cold water. Her fear of cats and dogs quickly became evident, although the reason for this fear was not discovered until years later. Nonetheless, hospital staff hoped to nurture her closer to normality. Early on, a physician specializing in extreme isolation, Jay Shurley, carried out a four-night sleep study in an attempt to determine whether Genie had been born mentally retarded or had been rendered functionally retarded by her isolation and abuse. He concluded the former, pointing to atypically high numbers of sleep spindles, a phenomenon typical of subjects born with severe retardation. However, doctors following the case remained divided on the issue; much later, for example, Curtiss pointed out that Genie had made a year's developmental progress per calendar year after her rescue, which would not be expected if her condition was congenital. Shurley also noted that Genie's was the most extreme case of isolation he had ever studied, and made several suggestions to the scientists on how to handle Genie; Rigler later said that despite his later disagreements with Shurley, he attempted to follow Shurley's recommendations as much as possible Over subsequent years, he remained in contact with many of the people around Genie. Hospital stay After Genie's rescue, the doctors at Children's Hospital began teaching her to speak and socialize. Within a few days, she started learning to dress herself and quickly developed a sense of possession, hoarding objects that she took a liking to. While in captivity, she was provided with very few toys or objects providing stimulation; the majority of her time was spent in a dark room staring at a yellow plastic raincoat, and what she did have mostly consisted of old plastic food containers. Colorful plastic objects, whether they were toys or ordinary containers, quickly became her favorite objects to collect and play with; she especially sought out and collected beach pails, always maintaining an arrangement of 23 of them near her bed. When she was first given small objects, doctors saw she took great pleasure in either intentionally dropping or destroying them; instead of discouraging her, most of the hospital staff and especially James Kent tried to use this to get her to express her anger outwardly. She also showed deep fascination with classical music played on the piano; a neighboring child regularly practiced the piano, and researchers thought this may have been the source of her interest, as it was one of the very few sensations available to her. Genie quickly developed remarkable nonverbal communication skills and soon learned to imitate other people, eventually beginning to make consistent eye contact, to vocalize, and to express herself through gestures. Within two months of her rescue, Genie's demeanor changed considerably. Although she almost never attempted to interact with other children, after a month she started to become sociable with familiar adults, starting with Kent and soon extending to other hospital staff; she displayed a particular affinity for men who, unlike her father, wore beards. After an earthquake struck Los Angeles one morning, she ran frightened into the kitchen where she had befriended several of the hospital's cooks; they later reported that, for the first time, she began rapidly verbalizing to them. After several months, she began to direct some of her anger outwards, although she did not entirely stop harming herself. She became more confident in her physical movements and started engaging in horseplay with adults, particularly enjoying when people picked her up and pretended to drop her. After several months she also showed signs of understanding object permanence, and after hearing a dog barking later attempted to imitate the sounds it made, the first time she had tried to reenact something after it happened; psychologists at the hospital saw both as major cognitive gains. After about five months of therapy, though she was difficult to understand, her vocabulary had steadily increased and she could spontaneously provide one-word answers, and she appeared to understand some of the give-and-take nature of conversation. By the time Susan Curtiss met Genie, she was extremely eager to expand her vocabulary; Curtiss said Genie would frequently grab her hand and point it towards objects she wanted to know the word for, and if Curtiss could not find what Genie was looking for Genie would refuse to let go until she learned at least one new word. Genie seemed particularly eager to learn color words, expressing disappointment if Curtiss could not name the color she wanted to know. Her non-verbal communication skills were exceptional, and the scientists noticed many instances where she seemed to be able to communicate her desires to people without saying a single word. When Curtiss and Kent went to toy stores with Genie, they frequently found complete strangers had bought something for her because they sensed she wanted it, and both of them were amazed at how these gifts were always exactly the types of objects she most enjoyed. Her doctors predicted completely successful rehabilitation. First foster home Genie's teacher at Children's Hospital, Jean Butler, became very close to her, and in June 1971 obtained permission to take Genie on day trips to her home. After one of these trips, Butler told the hospital that she (Butler) may have contracted rubella, to which Genie would have been exposed. The scientists were skeptical, speculating that Butler had concocted the story as part of a bid for foster custody; nonetheless Genie was temporarily quarantined in Butler's home as an alternative to isolation at the hospital. Butler subsequently petitioned for foster custody of Genie, and despite the hospital's objections the stay was extended while authorities considered the matter. Butler's observations During Genie's stay in her home, Butler continued observing, writing about, and filming Genie. One behav- ior she documented was Genie's hoarding, first observed at Children's Hospital and typical of children from abusive homes; in particular, Genie collected and kept in her room dozens of containers of liquid. On several occasions Butler went to the beach with Genie, who seemed fascinated with the water and waded in up to her ankles. Butler tried to help Genie overcome her intense fear of cats and dogs by watching episodes of the television series Lassie with her and giving her a battery-powered toy dog; Butler wrote that eventually Genie could tolerate fenced dogs, though there was no progress with cats. Both Butler and the scientists noted a marked improvement in Genie's demeanor during her stay with Butler, and she seemed more relaxed. They also noticed that soon after moving in, Genie started showing signs of reaching puberty. Butler's journal and films are the only data available on Genie's speech during this time, as Curtiss' dissertation contains no data from this period. Butler claimed to have taught Genie to say "yes" to other people, to use negative forms of words and, to help Genie stop self-harming, to express her anger through words or by hitting objects. In early August, Butler wrote to Jay Shurley that Genie had begun regularly using two-word sentences, and sometimes two adjacent adjectives, as in e.g. "one black kitty". Butler said the man she was dating commented on Genie's progress, calling her "my little yakker". She also reported that Genie, when asked why she had thrown her pet goldfish outside, explained "bad orange fishвЂ”no eatвЂ”bad fish"вЂ”which would have been her longest utterance to that point by far. Dispute While Genie was staying with her, Butler allowed Genie's mother (who by then had undergone surgery to regain much of her eyesight) to come on weekly visits. However, she strenuously resisted visits by Susan Curtiss, James Kent, and the other scientists, feeling that the research teamвЂ”whom she began disparagingly referring to as the "Genie Team", a name which stuckвЂ”overtaxed Genie. She frequently argued with them about Genie's handling, especially with David Rigler, although he maintained these disputes were never as heated as Butler portrayed them. The scientists strongly contested Butler's claims of pushing Genie too hard, contending Genie enjoyed the tests and was allowed to take breaks at will. They viewed Butler as personally troubled, noting her already longstanding reputation for combativeness among coworkers and superiors. According to Curtiss, she openly proclaimed her intent to be "the next Anne Sullivan", and repeatedly demanded to be credited in the scientists' research publications; although Rigler initially acquiesced, the scientists ultimately decided against doing this. While Genie was living with her Butler married, at least in part because she believed authorities would view more favorably her pending foster application if she could offer a two-parent home for Genie. However, in mid-August Butler вЂ” now using her married name, Ruch вЂ” was denied foster custody by California authorities. The extent, if any, to which Children's Hospital influenced that decision is unclear. Rigler maintained several times that despite the scientists' objections to Butler's application, there was no intervention by the hospital or its staff, and that he was surprised by the decision. The NOVA documentary, however, states the rejection of Ruch came partially on the recommendation of the hospital; there is evidence many hospital authorities felt Butler's ability to care for Genie was inadequate, and hospital policy forbade staff members to become foster parents to its patients. Ruch herself believed the hospital had opposed her application so Genie could be moved somewhere more conducive to research, and wrote that Genie was extremely upset upon being told of the decision. Ruch did not see Genie again for several years, though she stayed in contact with Genie's mother. She made repeated attacks on the scientists working with Genie in numerous forums until 1986, when a stroke left her with aphasia. She died in 1988. Second foster home Genie returned to the hospital and the same day was transferred to a new foster parent, therapist David Rigler. He and his wife, Marilyn, who was a graduate student in human development, had discussed the idea of temporarily caring for Genie until a new foster home became available if no one else would do so. Despite the hospital's policy, they were made temporary foster parents; although the Riglers initially intended the arrangement to last three months at most, Genie ultimately stayed with them for four years. While living with them, Marilyn became Genie's new teacher, and Susan Curtiss was allowed to visit almost every day, both to conduct her tests and to go on outings with Genie. Much of Genie's development during this time was captured on film, and she eventually learned how to operate the cameras herself. Upon moving in with them, Genie's incontinence issues resurfaced, and Marilyn noticed her speech was much more halting and hesitant than Butler had described. Besides dealing with these problems, Marilyn also found the need to teach Genie unconventional lessons. Despite what Butler had said about helping Genie's anger management, Marilyn observed Genie would act out her feelings on herself when angry; to counter this, Marilyn taught Genie to direct her frustrations outward by jumping, slamming doors, stomping her feet and generally "having a fit." When Marilyn noticed Genie's eagerness to be complimented on her looks, to further discourage her Marilyn began painting Genie's fingernails and telling her she did not look good when she scratched and cut her face. She later taught Genie to communicate her frustrations by saying "rough time" and, depending on whether she was very angry or merely frustrated, either vigorously shaking one finger or loosely waving her hand. Marylin also helped Genie to overcome her continuing difficulties with chewing by physically raising and lowering Genie's jaw, and after noticing her complete indifference to temperature Marilyn worked to help Genie become more attuned to her body's sensations. Both David and Marilyn worked to help control Genie's fear of dogs, using their own puppy to gradually acclimate her. As she settled into living with the Riglers, Genie's incontinence mostly disappeared and her demeanor improved; about 10 months after she moved in, on a trip with Curtiss she expressed her happiness in language to her for the first time. Over the course of several more months, her behavior improved to the point that she was able to start going to first a nursery school and then a public school for mentally retarded children. She eventually learned how to do some simple chores around the house, such as ironing and sewing, and by the end of her stay was able to make simple meals for herself. While Genie was living with the Riglers, her mother continued visiting with her, usually meeting once a week at a park or restaurant. Gradually, the bond between her and Genie grew stronger. However, though the Riglers never expressed any antipathy towards Genie's mother, while Genie was living with them her mother only visited their house three times; Marilyn later said she felt uncomfortable with playing the role of a mother to Genie in her house in front of Genie's real mother, and thought meeting in a more neutral location would help diminish the awkwardness for both of them. Many of the other scientists on the research team did not welcome her presence; Jay Shurley contended this was driven by the wide class difference between the scientists and Genie's mother, but many of the other scientists denied this class-based analysis, pointing out that both the Riglers and Curtiss had themselves come from lower and lower-middle-class backgrounds. Instead, they said their attitudes stemmed from their distaste for her mother's passive role in Genie's early life. The scientists, in turn, speculated Genie's mother gave them a mostly cool reception because they served as a reminder of her inaction during that time. Jean Butler Ruch, who had remained in touch with Genie's mother, gradually began to exert more influence over her while Genie was living with the Riglers. During the latter part of Genie's stay there, her mother increasingly started to feel she was being marginalized by the scientists. Brain testing In early 1972, Curtiss and Victoria Fromkin took Genie to have her brain examined by Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. They had suspected Genie's brain was extremely right-hemisphere dominant, but the tests went even further and showed the asymmetry was at a level of severity which had previously only been documented in patients with either split-brain or who had had their left hemispheres surgically removed; despite being right-handed, her left hemisphere appeared to have undergone no specialization whatsoever. In most right-handed people the left ear, which is more strongly connected to the right hemisphere, tends to better process environmental and musical sounds, while the right ear is better able to pick up language; however, despite having typical hearing in both ears, on dichotic listening tests researchers found Genie identified language sounds with 100% accuracy in her left ear while only correctly answering at a chance level in her right ear. Her non-language dichotic listening tests came back normal, and she tested at 100% accuracy in both ears on monaural tests; this discrepancy was far larger than what is found in most people. This suggested the competition between her ears was only between her right ear ipsilateral and left ear contralateral pathways, which led researchers to conclude she was processing both environmental and language sounds exclusively in her right hemisphere. In addition to the listening tests, Genie was also given tachistoscopic and evoked response tests; these showed she performed most tasks primarily originating from the right hemisphere, such as perspective (something evident in many of Genie's drawings depicting silhouettes and figures in profile, both of which require a relatively high degree of sophistication), holistic recall of unrelated objects, gestalt perception, and number perception, at a much higher level than those typically performed by the left hemisphere. Some, such as her spatial awareness, were at or higher than the level of a typical adult, indicating her right hemisphere had undergone specialization. There were a few primarily right hemisphere tasks she did not perform well on, such as facial recognition tests and remembering designs; Curtiss' explanation was that these tasks normally require use of both hemispheres, which would be very difficult for Genie since she almost exclusively used her already-specialized right hemisphere. A second set of exams done at UCLA confirmed these findings. Language progress Children typically begin to use two-word phrases when they have a vocabulary of about 50 words; however, Marilyn Rigler and Curtiss both noted that Genie only began to do so after she could use and understand about 200. Even then, though, when she first moved in with the Riglers she remained mostly quiet. After she settled down in her new surroundings, Genie's speech, while still frequently exhibiting a great deal of latency, began to improve. She soon began to use negative forms, albeit much more accurately and consistently with expressions using the word not (regardless of whether it was used in its full form or as part of a contraction) than with the prefix un. She had been able to comprehend simple negatives long before she started using them, and eventually she could understand more complex forms of negation. By mid-October 1971, only two months after moving in with the Riglers, Curtiss noticed Genie had started listening to other people talking even when they were not speaking directly to her. The scientists also observed that, unlike most young children acquiring a first language, Genie always spoke with a great deal of specificity and never overgeneralized the meaning of words; in a review of Curtiss' dissertation, psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow suggested this may have been the result of differences between the mind of a young child versus an adolescent as opposed to more general properties of early language acquisition. Furthermore, although Genie's two-word sentences showed many of the same properties as those of young children, she was much better able to label and describe the properties of emotions and concrete objects, especially colors, sizes, and qualities; two of the adjectives she used early on were "funny" and "silly", not words usually in the lexicon of children in the early phases of language learning. This strongly indicated a focus on physical characteristics to a degree not normally found in children acquiring a first language, who are typically better able to describe relationships. Tests initially administered in October 1971 showed that while she did not utilize the plural forms of words, she could understand numbers, quantitative descriptors such as "many" or "lots of", and knew how to count. During the summer of 1971, while Curtiss was befriending Genie, she and Fromkin realized existing linguistic examinations would not yield meaningful results, so they designed a set of 26 completely new tests from which they extrapolated most of their data. Curtiss also recorded every utterance she heard Genie make, ultimately compiling a list of approximately a few thousand. In 1974, Curtiss and Fromkin published two of their earliest papers about Genie, writing with USC linguistics professor Stephen Krashen on the first and with Krashen and the Riglers on the second; these covered her progress during the summer and at the end of 1972, respectively. The first indicated that she was learning to combine words to form new sentences and that her speech was increasingly rule-governed, while the second indicated this trend continued through until the end of the year. The second paper also noted several specific instances of improvement since August 1971. Genie's two-word sentences were now almost always in either subject-verb or verb-object order, which they suggested meant Genie was grasping the subjectвЂ“verbвЂ“object sentence structure typically used in English, and she was able to follow other word-order rules as evidenced in some of her verb-complement sentences. She could use increasingly complex noun phrases in ways that were clearly not imitative, and both understood and produced recursion. She was also able to correctly use the word on and could use the suffix -ing to describe events in the present progressive, both typically among the earliest skills acquired by children. By July of that year, she had mastered the use of regular plurals and was gaining the ability to utilize possessives, comparatives, some prepositions (especially next to, beside, and in), and past tense forms of verbs. By 1972, she was able to form imperative sentences, which suggested not only progress in her language comprehension but an increasing level of self-confidence and self-concept; however, this view was tempered by the fact that despite her ability to use imperatives, she very rarely would. She also gradually became able to use language to describe fictional events, attempting on at least two occasions in 1974 to lie to Marilyn. Near Christmas 1971, Genie and Curtiss were on a visit to Children's Hospital when a boy playing with a toy pistol frightened Genie; when Curtiss tried to reassure her, she responded "Little bad boy. Bad gun." Around two weeks later, Curtiss overheard her repeating the same words to herself, marking the first time she used language to speak about past events. Some months later, the Riglers overheard her saying "Father hit big stick. Father is angry." to herself, demonstrating that she was even able to talk about her life before language was a part of it; this gave researchers new insights into her life before being rescued and disproved the theory of 18th century philosopher Г‰tienne Bonnot de Condillac that humans require language to form memories. During the rest of her stay, the Riglers said she would constantly repeat "Father hit" to herself; eventually, with Marilyn coaching Genie by role-playing as Genie's real mother, the Riglers were able to elicit progressively longer, more detailed memories of Genie's past. Before the Riglers worked with Genie to understand the concept of death she would often ask them where her father was, afraid that he would come to get her, and she gradually began to speak about her father and his treatment of her. "Father hit arm. Big wood. Genie cry...Not spit. Father. Hit face - spit. Father hit big stick. Father is angry. Father hit Genie big stick. Father take piece wood hit. Cry. Father make me cry. Father is dead." However, despite her readily apparent desire for attention and socialization, she never learned to use the automatic speech common in most human interactions. She still had trouble with pronouns; by December 1972 she understood I, but she would interchangeably use you and me and did not have use of any others. Although she clearly understood and appropriately responded to questions using interrogative words by mid1972, and while in a session with Curtiss was once able to form one by arranging cards with words written on them, she was never able to form them in her speech; one of her attempts to form this kind of question was "What red blue is in?" Curtiss theorized Genie's difficulty with interrogative questions was likely due to the linguistic movement they require. While Genie understood how to use intensifiers such as the word very, she only tenuously grasped superlatives, though she appeared to understand the suffix -est better than the word most. She also seemed to view non-specific adjectives describing size, such as little, as absolute rather than relative values unless superlative or comparative markers were present. Until 1972, she responded to the conjunctions and and or as if they both meant and, but even after recognizing there was a difference never fully grasped the meaning of or. She was unable to distinguish between the active and passive voice, never gaining any use of the latter, and her speech was entirely devoid of pro-forms or auxiliary verbs such as have or will. Although she evidently grasped some prepositions, others, such as behind and in front of, were less consistently understood; Curtiss and Fromkin's second paper also noted that by March 1973 she seemed unable to grasp on or under, but suggested this was likely due to logistical difficulties with having to speak while simultaneously handling and moving objects into different positions to demonstrate her understanding, which she was not required to do in subsequent preposition tests. What grammar rules and syntax she did know were not consistently applied, and whereas most children remain at the two-word sentence stage for around four to six weeks, Genie did not progress beyond that point for five months. Her comprehension of complex sentence structures remained inconsistent. Speech progress When Genie first began speaking her speech was very soft and completely monotonic, and her voice was so highpitched that the instruments researchers were using to acoustically analyze her speech were unable to pick it up. Over time, her voice gradually lowered in pitch and became somewhat louder and more varied in tone, but her pronunciation was still very high-pitched and breathy, marked by both consonant and vowel reduction, vowel neutralization, reduction of many consonant clusters, and final consonant deletion. In November 1971, Curtiss was singing to Genie and was surprised when she started singing along, displaying an ability to change pitch that had never been observed in her speech. Curtiss and Fromkin's second paper noted that by 1973, she seemed to be slowly improving her articulation and was capable of imitating more sounds than she used in spontaneous speech, suggesting that her difficulty was with realization as opposed to pronunciation. In the later years of her stay with the Riglers, when she started trying to form sentences, Genie would typically only enunciate a few of them; for instance, "Monday Curtiss come" would sound more like "Munk". Curtiss attributed this to Genie trying to say the least she possibly could and still be understood, noting she would better articulate her sounds if explicitly, firmly requested to. Upon observing this, linguists following the case began to call her the Great Abbreviator. Almost a year after moving in with the Riglers, while getting her ear examined by David Rigler, she uttered the only recorded scream of her lifetime. Even while speaking, Genie continued to use supplementary nonverbal gestures to improve her intelligibility. If she could not express herself in language, she would try to draw pictures or act out events; when she was not understood right away, she would persist until her message was communicated. In addition to using her own drawings, she would frequently use pictures from magazines to relate to daily experiences. One picture she found of a wolf in a magazine sent her into a terror, and after seeing her reaction the Riglers were able to piece to- gether the underlying reason for her fear of dogs. The Riglers and Curtiss saw how frequently and effectively Genie was able to use her nonverbal skills, and although they tried to get her to use words as much as possible, they also wanted to work with her ability to use gestures, so in 1974 the Riglers arranged for her to learn American Sign Language. Loss of funding and research interest Despite Genie's progress, after three years the National Institute of Mental Health, which had been funding the research, grew concerned about the lack of scientific data generated and the disorganized state of project records. Jean Butler Ruch, who had continually attacked the scientists since her application to become Genie's foster parent was rejected, obtained David Rigler's proposal for extension of their NIMH grantвЂ”before the proposal had been presented to the NIMHвЂ”and began lobbying for its rejection, disputing the Riglers' progress with Genie. In 1974, funding for the study was cut off, and the following year the Riglers discontinued their foster parenting. Curtiss and Fromkin, however, were able to obtain grants from the National Science Foundation to continue their work. Now 18, Genie still spoke only in phrases such as "Applesauce buy store". Her progress remained considerably slower than had initially been expected, and she never displayed the rapid grammar and syntax acquisition seen in most children after the two-word-sentence stage. Her comprehension, however, was well ahead of her speechвЂ”a similar dichotomy is typically found in young childrenвЂ”and she would occasionally produce longer sentences if her initial utterance was misunderstood. Evaluation was further complicated by Genie's psychological and emotional difficulties; in particular, the scientists noted the negative associations with vocalizing from her childhood would have had a profound effect on her speech, making it very difficult to properly assess. Early adulthood In 1975 Genie turned 18 and her mother wished to care for her, so Genie moved back in with her mother to her childhood home. Before Genie left the Riglers, they offered to assist her mother any way they could. They signed Genie up for a summer school program, but when it ended she expressed a desire to stay at home with her mother instead of going to a summer day camp, to which the Riglers and her mother acquiesced. After a few months, she found that taking care of Genie was both physically and financially too difficult, and without notifying the scientists contacted the California Department of Health to find care for Genie. Genie was then transferred to the first of a succession of six different foster homes, where she ended up staying for a year and a half. When Genie first moved into her new foster home, social workers observed that the house was an extremely rigid environment, in particular noting that Genie was never allowed to play with the plastic containers she had brought with her. During her stay there, due to her treatment Genie experienced a severe regression. She again began experiencing issues with both incontinence and constipation, and quickly returned to her coping mechanism of silence. Not long after she moved in, she was beaten for vomiting and told that if she did it again she would never be allowed to see her mother, causing her to become extremely afraid of opening her mouth for fear of vomiting and facing punishment again. Even when she was hungry she was barely able to eat, only opening her mouth just long enough to put food in. Her fear also made her afraid to speak, rendering her almost completely silent; however, she still wanted to communicate with people she knew, so she began almost exclusively using the sign language she had learned while with the Riglers. Her mother, who she desperately missed, was almost never permitted to visit her, causing her to become extremely withdrawn. At one point while she was living there, she refused to talk for five months. Except for Curtiss, all of the scientists, including the Riglers and James Kent, were completely cut off from Genie during her stay in this foster home. Curtiss continued to meet with Genie once a week to continue her research, and witnessed her rapid be- "I want live back Marilyn house." вЂ”Genie speaking to Susan Curtiss, November 1975 havioral regression. On several occasions Genie told Curtiss she wanted to see her mother and wanted to move back in with the Riglers; early on in her stay, when Curtiss first heard this, she started petitioning to have Genie removed. Both Curtiss and the department of social services had a very difficult time finding and contacting John Miner, who was still her legal guardian, only succeeding after repeated attempts over several months. Once they were able to get his attention, he went to see Genie at a party; when he saw how badly she had regressed and how withdrawn she had become, he was prompted to get her taken out of the home. Upon leaving in January 1977, due to her treatment she required a two-week stay at Children's Hospital; she was able to see her mother and the Riglers during this time, and her condition moderately improved. In some of the subsequent homes she was physically abused and harassed, and her development further regressed. Lawsuit In 1977, Curtiss finished her dissertation, Genie: A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day "Wild Child", and it was published later that same year by Academic Press; it received reviews from several prominent scientists. After Genie's mother saw a copy after its publication, despite having thought of Curtiss and Genie as friends she reportedly took offense to the title and some of the contents. Privately, she disputed some of the specific details regarding Genie's treatment and the family situation during Genie's childhood; however, her official complaint did not. Instead, she argued that Curtiss could only have obtained these details from her therapists, which would have been a breach of patient confidentiality. She decided to file a lawsuit both over the book and over allegations of excessive and outrageous testing, claiming the researchers gave testing priority over Genie's welfare, invaded Genie's privacy by constantly filming her, and pushed Genie beyond the limits of her endurance, sometimes testing her between 60 and 70 hours per week. Members of the Genie team, most of whom had not heard about Genie in years, maintained their earlier contention that Genie mostly found the testing fun and rewarding, emphasizing that both she and the people testing her viewed the tests as a bonding experience. David Rigler said Genie never had a problem with being filmed, later pointing out that Genie would frequently start the cameras on her own. They further stated her mother was grossly exaggerating the lengths of time Genie was being tested; Curtiss was adamant that she never conducted tests more than 45 minutes on any day, that Genie was allowed to take a break whenever she wanted to, and that sometimes Genie herself would initiate the tests. Curtiss and Fromkin also categorically denied any breach of confidentiality, asserting that the details in Curtiss' dissertation were already publicly available and had previously been referenced at an American Psychological Association conference without objection. Given Genie's mother's otherwise passive nature, the scientists being sued strongly suspected from the beginning that she was not the driving force behind the lawsuit; they quickly discovered that Jean Butler Ruch had goaded her into suing and had gradually turned her against the scientists. Throughout the legal proceedings, Ruch was constantly trying to influence Genie's mother, something the lawyers representing her later acknowledged. According to ABC News and Russ Rymer, the suit was settled in 1984. However, in a 1993 letter to The New York Times responding to a review of Rymer's book, David Rigler wrote, "[T]he case never came to trial. It was dismissed by the Superior Court of the State of California 'with prejudice,' meaning that be- cause it was without substance it can never again be refiled." After the conclusion of the legal proceedings, despite several requests from David Rigler, Genie's mother refused to allow him or other members of the Genie team to see her. With the exception of Jay Shurley, she broke off all contact with the scientists, and moved in 1987 without leaving a forwarding address. Genie's mother began taking Genie with her on visits to Ruch's house, but despite the fact Ruch was again allowed to see Genie she did not cease her attacks on the scientists; she started spreading negative rumors about Genie's condition, hoping to convince as many people as possible that Curtiss' dissertation was full of fabrications. Although she continued to go after many of the scientists, she especially targeted Curtiss, repeatedly calling her at her house and frequently attending Curtiss' lectures to bombard her with hostile questions. While the lawsuit was being filed, Ruch had convinced Shurley to work on a book detailing Genie's handling by the scientists, but he backed out in 1985 after he delivered a paper with Ruch at a conference and was shocked at how vicious her attacks on the Genie team were. Although he remained very cynical about many aspects of Genie's handling, he was willing to acknowledge the scientists were in a completely unprecedented situation and thought Ruch's attacks were so malicious as to be sadistic. He saw Genie at her 27th birthday party and again two years later, and she reportedly looked as if she had regressed; in an interview he said she appeared very depressed and made very little eye contact. By mid-1993, the Riglers had found Genie and had seen her for the first time in 15 years, and David Rigler wrote that "my wife and I have resumed our (now infrequent) visits with Genie and her mother". He wrote that Genie seemed to be fairly happy and that she had immediately recognized and greeted him and Marilyn by name, but said nothing further about her mental state. Debate The extent of Genie's linguistic abilities has been the subject of some debate. Curtiss' earlier writings, up to and including her 1977 dissertation, appear very optimistic. As early as 1972, she indicated that although Genie was progressing more slowly than young children acquiring language, there was strong evidence she was very slowly incorporating more and more basic grammar into her speech and that she was building on those skills she already possessed at the time of writing. In her dissertation, she argued that Genie's "language performance often does not reflect her underlying linguistic ability"; although she rarely used grammar rules such as pluralization, it was clear that she understood and had the ability to use them. The first papers Curtiss wrote on the subject after her dissertation noted a severe regression in Genie's speech after 1975, but argued that her speech had remained "grammatically uninflected and telegraphic" even prior to this time, claiming that several of Genie's utterances were completely incomprehensible (in subsequent papers, the word telegraphic was replaced in favor of "agrammatic"). One of Curtiss' writings from 1982 and her second 1988 paper on Genie acknowledged that she clearly understood word order, showed some signs of feature specification, and could accurately use what bound morphemes she knew; however, Curtiss' post-1977 papers all argued that while Genie's vocabulary had broadened she had never acquired any meaningful amount of grammar or syntax after all. In an interview with Russ Rymer, she said that Genie's progress had very quickly plateaued and it had taken her several years to realize it, although she neither wrote anything to this effect in her dissertation nor attempted to disavow its conclusions in any of her later writings. However, a 1995 analysis claimed that earlier accounts of Genie's speech, especially of her progress during the period between 1970 and 1975, from both Curtiss' dissertation and her collaborations with Victoria Fromkin were more accurate than those produced after 1977. The primary arguments were that in these later works, Curtiss used only small samples of Genie's speech to prove her points when a more representative look at her speech would have been shown to contradict Curtiss' arguments, and that some of the utterances Curtiss deemed completely ungrammatical were, while not representative of a typical adult speaker, both comprehensible and showing some signs of incorporating grammar and syntax rules. While this analysis acknowledges Genie's regression from the trauma she suffered after entering her first foster home in 1975, it argues that Curtiss did not release enough information about Genie's speech between 1975 and 1977 to draw any definitive conclusions as to how far she regressed and what, if any, grammatical and syntactical skills she had lost. Impact Genie's is one of the best-known cases of language acquisition in a child with delayed development. Since Curtiss published her findings, the vast majority of linguistics books have used Genie as a case study, frequently citing it as proof of Chomsky's theory of innate language and a modified version of Lenneberg's theory. In her writings, Curtiss argued for a weaker version of the critical age theory; that normal language acquisition cannot occur beyond the critical period. She wrote that despite the innate ability of humans to acquire language, Genie demonstrated the necessity of early language stimulation to start, drawing a comparison to a baby who upon being born does not breathe until stimulated by a midwife. Furthermore, she stated that only language, not any other cognitive stimulation, could provide the necessary spark. Without the necessary stimulation, a person would be rendered incapable of processing speech from the left hemisphere of the brain and would be forced to only use the right hemisphere, which is typically only used to process non-speech sounds. This did not mean the person would never be capable of producing any language, but that this language would never progress into normal-sounding speech. Her arguments have become widely accepted in the field of linguistics, and were the impetus for several additional studies. In particular, analysis of Genie showed a sharp contrast between a linguistic versus a grammatical component in language. Although Genie was able to acquire vocabulary well above the level of her estimated mental age, she was never able to master phonology or a substantial amount of grammar. It was already known that adults who underwent a left hemispherectomy were better at regaining and maintaining vocabulary than grammar and syntax, similar to Genie; both the observations by Curtiss and the tests conducted on Genie's brain further bolstered the theory that the two processes underwent separate development. Scientists also noted the similarities between Genie's acquisition of language and that of deaf children who invent their own gesture system; while these systems contain certain aspects of language, such as vocabulary, recursion, and word order, other grammatical components such as auxiliary structures are never present. The auxiliary component of language had been known to be one of the few acquired at different rates by children depending on the amount of language they heard, and Genie's inability to master these structures strongly supported the idea that the development of auxiliary and other similar syntactical systems is more sensitive than vocabulary, requires a more conducive language environment to properly develop, and has a more definite critical period. This also suggested there was a separation of cognition and language rules, a new concept at the time. Genie's spatial and nonverbal skills were exceptionally good, which demonstrated that even nonverbal communication was fundamentally separate from actual language. Related studies Jeni Yamada, a graduate student who assisted Curtiss with compiling data about Genie and advocating for her welfare after leaving the Riglers, began a study in the late 1970s of a girl with linguistic problems that were the opposite of Genie's. This subject had no history of abuse and was known to have a testable IQ in the low 40s, but doctors were only able to diagnose her with mental retardation. She spoke with perfect syntax, but her words frequently conveyed no meaningful information; Yamada compared her speech to the game Mad Libs, as she seemingly used random words which formed a grammatically correct sentence. Although she could speak about her emotions, she showed no outward signs of emotional attachment to anyone or anything around her, and it was very difficult even for people who knew her to get a read on her feelings. She also displayed extreme difficulty with spatial awareness, one of Genie's strongest areas, almost completely unable to copy even simple lines on paper. Taken together, these studies helped to confirm ideas first suggested after studying Genie alone: that language and cognition are controlled by different processes, and that there is a fundamental difference between understanding and producing language. In the mid-1980s, Curtiss studied an adult in her mid-30s who, despite having average intelligence and no history of physical or emotional trauma, had not yet acquired a language. This subject had a severe hearing impairment that was not treated until she was 32, preventing her from acquiring language through listening, and although her mother realized she was deaf doctors had erroneously attributed her inability to learn to speak to mental retardation; this had kept her from attending schools for deaf children, so she had never studied sign language. After she was given hearing aids, underwent 13 years of intensive language and sign language instruction. She learned to use prepositions and determiners more successfully than Genie, and was able to acquire vocabulary similar to the way Genie had. However, she was completely unable to master even basic grammatical and syntactical skills such as word order and recursion, both of which Genie learned within two years. When her brain was tested, they found her right hemisphere was dominant to the same degree that Genie's had been. This lent further credence to Curtiss' conclusions about age and language acquisition. Genie's case has also been used in theorizing about whether the "critical period" analysis can be applied to the acquisition of a second language, a topic which remains the subject of considerable debate. Media After the Fritzl case came to light in 2008, ABC News ran two articles in early May of that year comparing the Fritzl case to Genie's. Their stories, which ran almost two weeks apart, said that Genie had been located in 2000 by someone who hired a private investigator; she was reportedly living in a small private facility for mentally underdeveloped adults and appeared to be happy in her surroundings, and although she only spoke a few words was still able to communicate in sign language. Their first story also noted David Rigler was in failing health and that, despite repeated efforts, Susan Curtiss had not seen Genie since January 1978 and was still unable to locate her. Their second story featured an interview with Genie's brother, which was his first public statement on either his or Genie's life. He said he had not seen Genie since 1982, though he was glad she was reportedly happy where she was living, and said their mother had died in 2003. In addition, he indicated he was himself still struggling to cope with the trauma of their upbringing and blocked out his past as much as possible, though he kept a small collection of photographs of their family from his childhood. Books Several books about feral children devote chapters to Genie's case. Russ Rymer wrote a two-part New Yorker magazine article entitled Genie: A Silent Childhood in 1992, and the next year a book called Genie: A Scientific Tragedy. The works cover Genie's progress and regression up until the time of publication as well as the scientific team behind her. With the exception of Curtiss, who he acknowledges was working primarily out of compassion, Rymer posits that the other scientists pursued the study chiefly for the advancement of their own careers and egos, constantly fighting for control over the direction of the study and credit for the work and research being done. He interviewed many of the scientists central to the case study, including Curtiss, James Kent, the Riglers, and Jay Shurley, as well as others who were more peripherally involved. In a 2008 interview Rymer said he was still scarred from covering the case, and said the rift between some of the scientists involved in the case had made the book extremely difficult to put together. Rymer's book received overall positive reviews in the Los Angeles Times from Nancy Mairs and from New York Times scientific reporter Natalie Angier; Angier's review, published in late April 1993, garnered harsh criticism from both Curtiss and Kent and prompted David Rigler to make his first public statement on the case. In a letter to the Times published in June 1993, Rigler wrote that although the scientists on the Genie team did have several different ideas on how to proceed with the study, with the exception of Butler/Ruch (whose intransigence he agreed Rymer had accurately portrayed), there was not and had never been any infighting between the scientists at the center of the case. Rather, he said they had worked together as best they could and tried to put Genie's best interests first, never making her progress with language acquisition a requirement for receiving love and attention as had been alleged in several interviews in the book. In particular, he argued that he and his wife taking in Genie for four years would only have happened if he truly cared about her as a human being as opposed to merely an experimental subject. While he acknowledged there were many unusual actions taken during the course of the study, such as making Rigler both a scientist studying the case and temporary foster parent, he argued this was because they were dealing with a case for which there was no good precedent and said Angier's review unfairly criticized the scientists. The review also claimed the scientists made numerous public accusations and filed multiple lawsuits against each other when Genie's mother attempted to sue them; Rigler wrote none of them made any public statements at all during that time, and denied any of the scientists had ever been involved in litigation against each other. Film and television In 1994, a NOVA documentary on Genie was aired by PBS in the United States and by the BBC in the United Kingdom. The documentary covers Genie's life up until the time of the lawsuit, and features film of Genie working with various people on the research team and interviews with many of the scientists involved in Genie's case. The episode met with positive reviews. The independent film Mockingbird Don't Sing, released in 2001, is based on Genie's case. Written by Daryl Haney and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, it follows Genie's life until sometime before the lawsuit filed by her mother, after which messages flash across the screen informing viewers of what happens after the film's timeline ends. The film is written primarily from the perspective of Susan Curtiss, the only person who had worked with Genie involved in the film's making. For legal reasons, all of the names in the movie were changed. The movie tied for first place as the best screenplay at the 2001 Rhode Island International Film Festival. See also A Man Without Words Marcos RodrГguez Pantoja Marie-AngГ©lique Memmie Le Blanc Oxana Malaya References 1. ^ a b c d e f g Reynolds, Cecil R.; Fletcher-Janzen, Elaine, ed. (2004). Concise Encyclopedia of Special Education. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. p. 428. ISBN 978-0-471-65251-9. OCLC 46975017. 2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k James, Susan Donaldson (May 7, 2008). "Wild Child Speechless After Tortured Life". ABCnews.com. Retrieved February 12, 2009.
© Copyright 2021 Paperzz