Genie: A Scientific Tragedy by Russ Rymer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The story of Genie is a truly a tragedy in every way. There was no "right" way for Genie. In some respects, it would have been better for Social Services to have given her to a family who would have raised her as a beloved pet. In actuality, that was the only level at which she could have happily functioned, but who would have thought that when she was found? Because of how she was raised, she was an empty slate, a perfect subject for understanding how language was learned and emotions were formed. No one would have denied her the right to learn as much as she possibly could, but when she began to level out and no further progress could be made, she became a problem with no solution. The people who studied her cared for her, but their job was to study her, not adopt her. Social Services then had the problem of where to place her. She wasn't a puppy. Even with her limited emotional development, leaving the people who spent so much time with her was difficult. There was no good answer, and it was apparent that she would again be "abused," although not intentionally.
The information gleaned from the study of her life was tremendous. In fact, what they learned from her made it possible to better help if another child was found. It is amazing to me that people's experiences actually "create" their brains. If children are raised like an animals, as with feral children, they develop aspects of the brain that help with survival, rather than language. Our brains respond to our environment. I think that was the rational I was given with respect to studying algebra...it seems a lot more sensible now.
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