Discussion 3: Secret of the Wild Child
1. What are the developmental issues here?
The “Secret of the Wild Child” is a video about a young girl named Genie who was identified as
a “wild child” and grew up in isolation from society. Genie was raised in extreme isolation for
the first 13 years of her life. Almost her entire childhood was spent locked in a bedroom where
she was tied to a potty chair and had grown up isolated and abused for over a decade.
However, even though Genie was 13 years old when she was found, her lack of human contact
meant that she was only at an infantile level of development. When an individual has not been
exposed to society or the experiences of daily life, it limits their ability to develop properly. The
longer Genie was left isolated from society in that room she developed more and more
developmental issues. Some of these issues include the fact that she was isolated from the
world and was abused for making any noise at all. This left Genie absent of social abilities,
communication skills and also hindered her language development. As well when Genie was
found, it was reported that she constantly spat, scratched and could not walk properly. These
are all signs of the awful conditions that she was raised in. It was definitely apparent that Genie
explored things much differently than other children her age because she was not exposed to
the same environment as them when growing up.
2. What does this suggest about Nature and Nurture?
There has been a significant amount of scientific research done in the fields of development
and the effect of nature and nurture on developing children in relation to Genie’s case. Nature
refers to our biological capacities whereas nurture refers to our environment and learning
behavior. Nature and nurture evidently influence one another when looking at development. In
Genie's case her developmental issues were revealed by her lack of nurture throughout her
childhood. Genie was isolated throughout the first 13 years of her life and was left lacking the
nurture part of development. All of her abilities and skills were therefore assumed to be a result
of the ingrained capabilities of humans. With the lack of nurture in her life, Genie was unable to
learn to speak, walk, or behave in a normal manner. Genies inability to develop properly in
certain areas was linked to the lack of experience in her life. As individuals grow older they
learn from their surroundings as well as from their previous experiences. Since Genie was
isolated from society she was unable to learn and develop properly. If we were to compare a
child who grew up in a very integrated environment to a child who grew up in a quarantined
environment, such as Genie, there are very many differences in the development of these children. For example, Genie lacks the ability to communicate with other individuals and to
recognize social signals due to the environment she was raised in and the lack of nurture she
received. However, an individual who was raised in a very integrated and enriched environment
would have no trouble developing these traits. The lack of nature and nurture shown in Genie’s
life allows us to believe that a balance between nature and nurture is needed in order for an
individual to develop properly.
3. Can anything be done to help Genie?
There is a critical period for humans in which certain experiences must occur in order for
normal development to occur. Unfortunately Genie was found after this critical period had
already ended. Genie spent her sensitive developing years alone in an isolated environment. It
was reported that Genie made some progress from her original state to now, however, because
this critical period had passed Genie was not able to acquire many human functions such as
proper human language. I believe that there is still hope for Genie and that it would be unwise
to say that nothing can be done to help Genie because she has already shown improvement.
There are also many facilities that could help Genie, but to completely adjust to society and
become a normally functioning i