Secrets of the Wild Child

Seeing as I’m studying psychology, our teachers show us lots of videos and parts of documentaries. One of those was “Genie Wiley – Secrets of the Wild Child”. This documentary really stuck with me and made a huge impression on me, which is why I wanted to share it with you. Here’s a short description of what it’s about:

In the fall of 1970, social workers took custody of a 13-year-old child who had spent much of her life chained to a potty chair in her bedroom. She could not speak, walk, or respond to other people. She was called “Genie.” Her case attracted psychologists who were interested in finding out whether she could still learn to speak. At the time, some linguists, led by MIT’s Noam Chomsky, believed that human speech is a genetically programmed ability. Eric Lenneberg, a neuropsychologist, agreed with Chomsky and added further that if a person did not learn to speak by adolescence, then the natural ability to learn language might be lost forever. This theory was the so-called “critical period hypothesis.”

If you’re interested in psychology I really recommend watching this. But, hey, even if you’re not interested in psychology, I’d recommend it. This documentary is shocking, fascinating, interesting and for me, it had this aftertaste of sadness. It’s one of those things you never quite forget.


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