Genie: Secret of the Wild Child

1997 ,    »  -   22 Comments
Ratings: 7.93/10 from 160 users.

This is an Emmy Award-winning documentary about a girl who spent her early life chained in a bedroom. Brought up in confinement, "Genie" was primitive, brutish, and hardly capable of walking or talking. NOVA follows the contentious attempts to unbolt the secret of the wild child who has reached near maturity in an agonizing seclusion with almost no human contact.

The story begins in Los Angeles on November 4, 1970, when authorities have taken under protection a thirteen-year-old girl that was kept in such solitude imposed by her parents that she never even learned to talk. The parents have been accused of child abuse.

Genie was imprisoned in a bedroom and bound to a potty chair for the most of her early life. Fully kept under control, she was made to sit alone every day and night. She had almost nothing to look at and no one to talk to for more than a decade. The girl allegedly was emitting immature noises and was still in diapers when social workers found about the case, but the officials were anticipating she may still possess a normal ability to learn.

The girl who gave an impression of an infant would be well known as "Genie." She was transported to Children's Hospital in Los Angeles where she instantly gained the affection of doctors and scientists. She was delicate, lovely and poignant... and Genie was about to put on trial an idea paramount to science and society: that caring, encouraging and affectionate environment could make up for even the most brutal past.

Genie had an awkward walk and other almost non-human features. She continuously spat, sniffed, and clawed. She hardly articulated anything or produced any noises. Investigation showed that she was abused for making noise and as a consequence, had learned, basically, not to vocalize. And she really didn't speak at all. She was mute most of the time.

22 Comments / User Reviews

    ~Oliver B Koslik Esq
  1. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    Oldie but goldie!

    ...Thanks TDF
    :-) +1

  2. drobertbaker
  3. drobertbaker

    What a travesty! All those "caring rescuers" just used that poor kid for all they could pump out of her until the money dried up (due to their incompetence). And then they just dumped her back into the cruel world.

    I glad they were sued. I agree with the last guy that the more interesting study is of the researcher's behavior rather than of that tragic child.

    Shame on those respectable scientists!


    Another sad example how our Society works everything about money and headlines but by the end that beautiful little girl was passed around like a ball,and ended up being abandoned by everybody.her mother should be in prison for the rest of her life she is not a Mother

  6. cyberfrank
  7. cyberfrank

    truly sad how such a cute little girl-woman could never enjoy life as she truly deserved, how true and deep she could be, but, never found an equal in this shallow world, that could not adapt to such a simple person, she really deserved better.

  8. aggie45
  9. aggie45

    This girl should have been living in a STABLE WELL SUPERVISED group home setting from the start AND at the same time be getting speech therapy etc. The people who worked with her seemed to be truly caring BUT they should have been limited to working with her as therapists only.

  10. Gaia ODea
  11. Gaia ODea

    Talk about ABANDONMENT ...the so called ppl who 'cared' for her should be shot!

  12. Eric Lawson
  13. Eric Lawson

    It always seems to come down to ego and money as the motivators in these cases Sad !!!

  14. Shadowblur
  15. Shadowblur

    ...Same old scenario, the innocent get a pounding by the
    so-called intellectuals, just like 'Nim', the chimpanzee, betrayed by the loved ones.

  16. Shadowblur
  17. Shadowblur

    ....As i see her, she was like a loving dog, she knew nothing of human behavior, she was truly innocent and could not do bad as we can, she was truly an animal mind, and was probably confused with human
    behavior she witnessed daily from people around her. I'm not stating a crazy behavior, but she as animal minded, could see things done were to her senseless. Even the wearing of clothes may have.

  18. shaody
  19. shaody

    I have always maintained that two adults who are a couple should not be able to procreate unless they have gone through an assessment program and are in a situation where they are able to rear a child. This situation would only occur in the human species.

  20. Sands
  21. Sands

    Such a sad story. The people involved, the so called "intellectuals" make me sick. Genie is thrown around from place to place as a scientific guinea pig for opportunists. I'd say this poor human soul who is "a child" only just craved proper nurturing, love, care and support that every human being is entitled to only to be exploited. Why get involved in the first place

  22. Ramome
  23. Ramome

    I was struck most by the people who had her for 6 years (if I remember correctly.) The said they wanted to send her to a good home. That's like they had too many puppies or kittens from a litter and needed to get rid of them. They never saw her as a human being. You should just take her as she is and raise her as your child. The bureaucrats in this show were the worst of the bunch. All these people are childish idiots. Their own selfish needs came before Genie's needs. These are the people we think are the brightest among us. What a crock.

  24. InvisibleHandInMyPants
  25. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    In moments of pure frustration and weakness, I too have echoed your feelings about procreation.
    You have to get a permit to drive a car. You must be licensed to cut hair. But to create a child?

  26. InvisibleHandInMyPants
  27. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    Your views of this case are childishly simplistic. You have no credentials to say what Genie needed or didnt need. She was loved and nurtured and cared for by many people. With a case so unique, the medical community had no clear plan worked out for such and event. Some wanted to help. Others prly wanted notoriety. But to believe Genie would miraculously change with a caring parent by her side is delusional at best. She was profoundly disturbed and ill-equipped to function as a human, much less in a civilized society.

  28. InvisibleHandInMyPants
  29. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    Lemme see if Ive got this right. Genie is abused for 13 years, kept chained to a small potty and beaten if she made too much noise. The authorities discover her situation. The mother is arrested. The father blows off his own head (good). The mother, who witnessed and possibly participated in this torture of a child, is allowed to take back the child for the summer of her 15th year. Mom cant manage the girl and sends her back to caregivers, not unlike returning a pair of ill-fitting shoes. Then the mother has the temerity to sue the caregivers for their lack of care for the child? The mom wins an undisclosed settlement? WTF?

  30. Piera Sestini
  31. Piera Sestini

    Genie needed love and acceptance as any other human being but she was treated as a scientific guinea pig, for the sake of science and experiments. Sad story. Moreover, the documentary should have shown Genie as and an adult, too, and let us see the result of such abuses, first in the home and then outside.

  32. morrisseyowesmemoney .
  33. morrisseyowesmemoney .

    I studied this case as part of my Psychology course. Still brings tears to my eyes even now.

  34. Sean Duong
  35. Sean Duong

    'Merica! land of the FREE

  36. Maks
  37. Maks

    yes your nick sure shows you are qualified to talk about "civillized" society.
    she was cared for, but she was not loved and she was not nurtured. Oh and by the way I ahve credentials to say so because I work with 'troubled' children and teens and it disgusts me how little soul so called "professionals" put into their work. Most of them cares only about making a name and career and if they needed to take that kid apart to achieve this they would

  38. Anna Velazquez
  39. Anna Velazquez

    I don't understand how they wanted Genie to be in a "good home", yet she would come back to the child care hospital traumatized AGAIN by being punished. Did they not look into these foster parents? Did they not explain her traumatized experiences? All she needed was someone to give her that extra time and care, to understand and work with her.. she did not deserve to be thrown around like a unwanted puppy. They had to know she was not going to be an easy child to have in a home; she required more than a "normal" child would in development process and learning.

  40. shannon williamson
  41. shannon williamson

    California and the ppl who so called CARED for this child dropped the ball .Seems to me since she contributed to science so much...and she did contribute...they would have taken special interest in her well being. She was used and then tossed into a system that was severly lacking. That I think is the hardest thing to wrap my head around. To give a little happiness then snatch it away.

  42. Marc
  43. Marc

    It's sad to see her horrid Father's views on society be echoed by the professionals that surrounded her, unintentionally and through their actions but still distressing to see the lack of irony in it all.

    The real lesson here was to not study a poor soul who has been put through such a terrible experience. Just teach them what you can and try to give them a place to belong were they can love and be loved, we wouldn't put somebody through such torture simply to study it and so we shouldn't look upon such a thing happening outside of our control as an opportunity to do it either because then the only problem you're having is that you couldn't get away with it if you did emulate it rather than it being a problem of ethics at all.

    Very interesting documentary, I hope she has had a better life since the last events of the documentary.

Leave a comment / review: