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.