Social Isolation Creates Feral Children: The Genie Project

Most people have never heard of feral children. Its an enigma that is not highly publicized. These children are commonly referred to as "wild children" having been confined with little to no human contact. Sometimes they live and survive on their own, or they have been raised by animals. This hub will take a look at some of these children and the psychological damage that has been done to these children as a result of social isolation.

These two cases are among most heard about cases, Genie being the one that you will find throughout most of the internet research I found. They all display similar behaviors and characteristics. There have been many movies and books written on the subject.

Even some fictional characters have been based on feral children, such as Tarzan and Jungle Book. Though it is fictionalized in today's society, it is a very real thing. These children were isolated, abused and thrown out by people who were supposed to care for them.


Genie, which reports indicate was not her real name was found at the age of 13 in her parent's home. She has been restrained to a child's toilet and still in diapers. She was silent for the first months of her discovery and it took doctors and caregivers time to teach her language. She was isolated and left with little human contact for the first 13 years of her life.

She was strapped to this child's toilet and left alone to sit for days on end. When she was found, she uttered no more than noises of an infant and it was hard for people to believe that she was indeed a 13 year old child. She would spit at people and sniffed at things and people. She walked in a halting manner and was more often than not, seen holding her hands in front of her like a rabbit would.

During the research and testing of the "Genie Project" it was theorized at she behaved and learned like a person who had their left brain removed. Over the months that she was with the scientists, her vocabulary was built to hundreds of words, but she was not grammatically correct in her speaking.

After the "Genie Project" lost their funding and were no longer able to do the research they planned, Genie at first lived with her mother again, until her mother could no longer care for her. She was placed in many foster homes and some reports indicate that she was abused. She has since been put into an adult foster home in California and an independent film "Mockingbird Don't Sing" has been made about her life.

Victor, the Wild Child of Aveyron

Victor was found in the forest in 1799. Reports indicate that he lived his entire childhood alone. He is probably the most known feral child and by some the first documented case of autism. At the time he was first sighted, people couldn't determine his exact age, but he was estimated to be around 12 years old. He was captured in France and then escaped. When he came out of the woods on his own, he was naked and covered in scars, taken for examination and research.

It was never determined his origins, no one really had definitive proof of who his parents were and no one came forward to claim him. It was theorized that he was put out of his home for being mute, though it was evident that he could hear. He could not speak and was more an animal than a child to most that observed him.

A young medical student adopted Victor into his home and started to report his observations. He reported that the boy had no capacity for human emotion or empathy, this man wanted to civilize Victor and teach him these things. Gradual progress was made with Victor, though he never fully understood language, he did grasp the concept of human emotion and was progressing in behaviors of empathy.

Victor died at the age of 40, in 1828, in a Paris Institution.

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John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Cool hub, I would like to see more cases. It is ashame they stuck that girl back with her mother. I think she would have gotten better treatment today.

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. You are right, John, she would have gotten much better treatment nowadays. I will update this hub with some more links to other resources. Check them out if you are interested in more cases, there are quite a few of them. :)

Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

This was an awesome read. I'm a fan!

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rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Thanks! I am glad to hear it!

secretmemoir profile image

secretmemoir 6 years ago from Australia

when I saw the title, I thought you were referring to mis-behaved children, sometimes jokingly referred to as feral! I do recall reading about a neglected child that was raised with dogs and thought he was a dog

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Well, good thing the title was catchy then, eh!?

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Angela_1973 6 years ago

I love this one and will vote for it! Congratulations on your nomination!

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Nomination? I am not sure whatcha mean, but I am incredibly glad you enjoyed it Angela. Its always good to see readers. :)

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rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Oh my good gracious, Angela, thanks for brining that to my attention! I am pretty new to HubPages, I didn't know about this nomination. I am incredibly speechless by it actually. Thanks again for reading AND for telling me ;P

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Baileybear 6 years ago

congratulations on your hubnugget nomination - don't forget to vote for yourself

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ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Yes, in behalf of the Hubnuggets Team, I wish you all the best in your nomination. :)

This hub is found in the Health Category, if anyone wants to vote and join the Hubnuggets fun, click away:

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rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Aw thanks everybody! :)

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akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Crazy what we do not know about and learn through hubs - great hub and how sad for these kids, too. Especially Victor as things that were thought of as so 'overwhelming' then are so totally treatable or understandable today. Congrats on the nomination!

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Thanks so much for reading, akirchner.

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Great hub that reflects just how inhuman some humans can be. How could anyone strap a child to a toilet and leave them for days on end. Very sad...

Congrats on being selected as one of this week's nominees for the HubNugget's Wannabe Contest. Good luck to you!

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Its a very sad fact. Thanks for reading!

hospitalera profile image

hospitalera 6 years ago

Great hub, here the story of another feral kid from Germany: You might want to include his story also, SY

Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Wow. Interesting hub. I thought, when I saw the title, that you had seen my kids at the mall. Just kidding.

Congratulations on your hubnuggets nomination.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting hub. Well done. I remember another case, a young girl who had been victimized by her family and locked out of the house. She went into the family dog house and lived there. Obviously, this happened when she was quite young and she learned how to be a dog. There is film documentation of how she behaved when she was discovered. It was amazing. She could pounce up from a 'squatting' position like a dog would; growl, and eat her food off her plate like an animal. It was very sad, b/c she never fully recovered like a human would behave. Congratulations on being a hubnugget nominee. Good luck.

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DjBryle 6 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

Very interesting! thanks for sharing! =)

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

hospitalera - thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out when I get off work. I think most cases are documented at - I will check your link against it :)

Deborah - I am glad that you enjoyed the hub. LOL, I get that a lot, even when I discuss this with people in person!

Denise - That's an incredibly sad story. Thanks for sharing it with me. I hadn't heard of that before, but it certainly doesn't surprise me.

Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

Congratulations on the hubnugget! This subject is so sad, as these people who do this to children don't even realize that what they are doing is wrong. So many lost children. There was a local news story about a girl who was kept in the cupboard. She'd never been to school, and in fact no one knew her mother had a child. She had been kept hidden because her mother didn't want anyone to know about her. How sick is that? She could not straighten up completely as she had not walked upright since she was very small.

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Wow, Faybe, that is incredibly sad! Thanks for sharing that with me. I know its a subject that we don't think about until its too late for the children.

Sue F. 6 years ago

Very interesting read. I will check out the movie that you mentioned!

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Another good movie on the subject is "Nell"

Make  Money profile image

Make Money 6 years ago from Ontario

Yeah it's surprising Genie was given back to her mother. It looks like Victor lived through the French Revolution so it's possible that his parents were murdered after hiding him in the woods during the Reign of Terror, you know during the so called Enlightenment period. Interesting hub rgarnett. My father had a cousin who's first name was Farrel. :-)

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Thanks for reading! I was surprised in the research that she was given back to her mother as well. It is said that her father did most of the abusing, but given the condition she was in when she was found, I can't believe her mother to be innocent of the whole thing.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, not sure if you got my last comment, as it seems to have disappeared! lol I just said how interesting this was and how sad it happened within a family unit, I find the children who have been found wandering in a jungle or wild amazing, especially as they are brought up by animals, fascinating, cheers nell

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

Wonderful hub...I learned something...thanks! :)

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Nell - I am incredibly sorry I didn't reply, I don't believe I saw that comment. But I am glad that you are just as fascinated by these children as I am. They are one of my many passions in the mental health field. Thanks so much for reading! :)

Tom - Thanks for reading, I am glad you learned something. This hub was definitely to bring to light the plight of these children. I appreciate your comment.

kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago

I'll have to come back another time to check out the links. I wonder how prevalent this is, and how many cases of neglect are similar but not as severe. Thanks for an interesting read on a sad topic, rgarnett.

rgarnett profile image

rgarnett 6 years ago from KC, MO Author

Glad that you enjoyed it Kim. I am sure you will find the links incredibly interesting. I know that it intrigued me. I don't really know how prevalent it is, but I would assume there are plenty!

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