Genie – The girl who was deprived of love for 13 years

Ever wondered what would happen to a child if they were not given any affection?

This is the heartbreaking story of Genie, a girl who for 13 years suffered severe mental and physical abuse at the hands of her sadistic father.


feral child

Genie – a pseudonym given to her to protect her identity – was born in 1957 in Temple City, California and was almost immediately locked up in a room and deprived of physical contact. Her paranoid father, believing Genie to be mentally retarded, locked to her a chair, bed or toilet at all times and hit her whenever she made a noise.

It’s hard to comprehend the cruelty humans can inflict on one another, even more so when it is a father to his own daughter, but this was Genies’ life until she was 13 when her mother managed to finally break free from her husband’s evil clutches and sought help.

feral child genie
Genie, a photo taken immediately after her rescue.

When the authorities found Genie she couldn’t speak and crawled along the floor.Her case was incredibly distressing to all those who dealt with her.

“Solitary confinement is, diabolically, the most severe punishment, and in my experience, really quite dramatic symptoms develop in as little as fifteen minutes to an hour, and certainly inside of two or three days. And try to expand this to ten years boggles one’s mind,” said Jay Shurley, an expert in solitary confinement.

Doctors tried to look after Genie but they found it very hard. Not surprisingly she was highly antisocial. She was one of the most feral children that have ever been studied.  As she had only been fed baby food, Genie had difficulty chewing and swallowing and became distressed whenever she saw food.

She constantly salivated, spat and growled at others. She had no sense of personal property, frequently pointing to or taking something she wanted from someone else. In addition, she did had no situational awareness. Doctors wrote that she acted on impulse irrespective of the setting, especially noting that she frequently engaged in open masturbation and would sometimes attempt to involve older men.

Her father was arrested and charged with child abuse but he shot himself before he could be tried.

For a while in the 70’s Genie was headline news and one of the worst cases of child abuse in the US ever recorded but after a while she faded into obscurity.  Genie’s last known whereabouts was a private institution for the mentally undeveloped in California.

Source: Wikipedia, The Guardian

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