On November 4, 1970, social services in Los Angeles discovered a girl of thirteen years in semi-state, a creature unable to speak after spending their lives locked in a dark room and in subhuman conditions. According to the witnesses described in that room there were only a potty-chair, behind some copies of the magazine and TV Guide-wire cage in which her father locked her to sleep each night.
During those thirteen years of life, the small Genie, later named as the researchers had not spoken or make a sound. His father was savagely beaten or bark like a dog if she did make some noise. In addition to keep isolated from the rest of the family, the man gave no other food than baby food or cooked eggs. The carrier where she held with the windows sealed, only allowed to see two inches of heaven.
When psychologists examined the girl, they discovered that she was walking with difficulty and behaved like a wild creature: spitting, spiders or tried to masturbate compulsively. The child had a vocabulary of twenty words, most orders as “Stop!”, “No” or “no more.”
However, despite that she was immediately transferred to a hospital in Los Angeles, the bane of small Genie had not yet finished. Encouraged by the film “Little Wild” by Truffaut, many researchers were interested in his case and thought they saw it as an opportunity to advance in their studies on language and the human brain.
During long months Genie underwent dozens of tests, with a more experimental treatment, while researchers were fighting about who will stay with her case. Dr. Jeanne Butler, in particular, presumed that this case was to make famous and ended up taking the girl to his home, where he recorded for hours with her while making any evidence of dubious scientific value.
Genie now lives in a sheltered accommodation in an undisclosed location in Southern California; it is at least her sixth adult foster home. Her mother died in 2003.
An independent film entitled Mockingbird Don’t Sing is based on Genie’s life.
Mocking Bird don’t Sing | Movie based on Genie’s Life