In parallel, one of the most compelling cases of study for linguists, psychologists, and other scientists, and also one of the saddest and most extreme cases of child abuse registered in history, the case of Genie, the ‘feral’ child of Arcadia, California, still puzzles and shocks both the scientific community and the public in general, fifty years after it became public.
‘Genie,’ which is a nickname for the daughter of Clark and Dorothy Wiley, was infamously held captive in a locked room by her father since she was around 1 ½ years old, until seven months after her thirteenth birthday.
During this time, Genie was severely bitten, starved, and deprived of any mental or physical stimulation, including (most remarkably, for scientists) any sustained contact with spoken language, which severely delayed her acquisition of linguistic skills and made her a ‘feral’ child, unsocialized as a result of being abused.
Follow along as we review ten facts about the chilling, horrible, and exciting story of Genie Wiley, California’s feral child.
10 Her Father's Motives
It’s an undeniable fact that Genie’s father was the driving force behind the relentless abuse that she suffered over the years, and, as such, his motivations have been discussed since the story went public.
Some speculate that his behavior stemmed from the abandonment and abuse that he suffered as a child himself, with his mother sending him to different orphanages so that she could devote herself to the administration of her brothel. This would eventually make him too possessive, resented, and prone to bouts of rage.
9 Before Genie: The Death Of Her Siblings
Clark Wiley’s obsessively controlling nature went on to become more serious when he started having children on his own, beginning to beat, with increasing severity, his wife, Dorothy. She was increasingly blind as a consequence of an accident she had suffered years before.
His controlling tendencies became so absolute that when he had his first two children with Dorothy (first a girl, then a boy), he made his wife put them in living conditions that ended up killing them from neglect.
For example, his daughter was placed in the cold garage because her noises disturbed Clark, which eventually caused her death from pneumonia at ten weeks of age.