As college students, we complain about deprivation of many things during finals week. Sleep is generally the biggest concern, but social interaction, healthy meals, and personal hygiene are all details of our daily lives that seem to be put on the backburner when that dreaded week of each semester occurs. However, after the week is finished, we go home to home-cooked meals, time for sleeping and social events, and moms to take care of laundry and make sure we are washing our hair.
What if that week of deprivation, however, was more extreme and lasted for a total of 13 years? It sounds unbelievable, yes...but for the case of "Genie," a psychological research study that gave researchers an inside look at human development, the disastrous effects of deprivation are a reality. The information that follows comes from a program aired on PBS.
The story of Genie begins when Genie (a pseudo name given to the child of the study) was just an infant. Raised in isolation, Genie was kept in the confines of a bathroom for 13 years of her life. She was left alone and punished for making noise, depriving her of any sort of stimulation. When authorities found her in 1970 (at 13 years of age), she was extremely malnourished and unable to talk. Even her physical movements seemed off. Her walk was described as that of a bunny and she was still in diapers.
As one can see, the effects of deprivation are extremely detrimental to an individual, especially a developing child. Because the plasticity of the brain is a key component of proper development, it is critical that a child receives adequate stimulation while the brain is still malleable. Unfortunately for Genie, this lack of stimulation affected her lifelong success. Although she was put through countless hours of therapy, Genie was unable to communicate effectively even into her old age. She was eventually placed in a group home after the psychological experiments were called off. Controversy still remains as to whether or not the studies on Genie were ethical.