Genie was called the "wild child." This term was defined as a child who grows up in severe isolation. When Genie was one year of age, her father found out that Genie was going to be slightly slow. He felt this to be unacceptable and locked her in a room tied to a potty-chair for the fist ten years of her life. Her blind mother was seeking help for herself and Genie was with her. When the social worker saw the terrible condition Genie was in, she reported it immediately (class discussion). The father committed suicide after he found out the social workers discovered her.
Dr. James Kent was the hospital psychologist who worked with Genie. He was captivated by her intense way of observing her environment. He felt she had the capacity to learn attachment (video). Attachment is defined as an especially close affectional bond formed between living creatures (161). It was once thought that attachment was formed between an infant and caregiver because of the need to fulfill primary biological needs. However, Harry Harlow conducted a study using rhesus monkeys that proved this theory wrong. The monkeys were placed with two surrogate mothers; one made of wire, the other of cloth. Both provided an equal amount of nursing and primary biological needs however, the monkeys spent as much time possible cuddling and hugging the cloth mother as opposed to the wired mother (161-162). This relates to humans because there is more to life than biological needs. An infant needs to continue to be social so he/she could develop and show attachments. Attachments were absent in Genie's life because of the fact that her parents did not acknowledge her other than when it was time to eat. However, when Genie was discovered, Dr. Kent was able to develop a relationship with Genie. He noticed her ability to become sad when he left her and happy when he was in her presence. Kent felt that Genie needed a surrogate parent. She needed to develop a relationship with one family so she could form an attachment and not have to be with a number of different people. She needed someone to be there as her "friend." No one felt attachment was important to the study of Genie except for Kent. When she was with Jean Butler, her first foster parent, she was happy and treated with a lot of care. Jean wanted to adopt her, but the Children's Hospital turned it down claiming she wanted Genie to make her famous. However, a few hours after Jean had to give her back, Dr. Rigler became her foster parent. Having Genie go from foster home to foster home was not healthy for Genie and had affected her progress greatly. Genie did not have the opportunity to form attachments because she was too busy getting pushed around from test to test and home to home. The "Genie team" felt that studying her progress in language was more important than her development of attachment. All the doctors became more interested in gaining popularity from the studies while Kent and Jean Butler were only in it for the welfare of Genie. He was eventually kicked out of the study because of this (class discussion).
When Genie was found, her language ability did not exist. It has been said that
Genie was abused when she made any type of noise. She made sure she kept extremely quiet. Because of the tremendous amount of love and care Genie received, she was able to learn and speak words quickly. Genie became extremely interested in learning vocabulary. When Genie was in the care of Susan Curtiss, a graduate student in linguistics, she wanted to learn a word for every thing in sight. Genie discovered the world. When Genie lived in the Rigler home, she was also treated with a lot of care. Marilyn Rigler taught her "bad time" to stomp her feet and slam doors so she could make a physical world connection to express herself. Genie experienced a developmental breakthrough because she was able to use words for past events including bad memories, sleeping on a potty-chair etc. Genie learned to read simple words, learned emotion words, shape words, and even colors (video). However, Genie was unable to use grammar.