Genie (feral child)
The first publicly released picture of Genie, taken just after California authorities discovered her at the age of 13.
|Born||1957 (age 55–56)
|Known for||Victim of severe abuse
Research subject in language acquisition
Genie is the pseudonym of a feral child who was the victim of one of the most severe cases of abuse and neglect ever documented. She spent most of her first thirteen years of life locked inside a bedroom, strapped to a child's toilet or bound inside a crib with her arms and legs immobilized. Genie's abuse came to the attention of Los Angeles child welfare authorities on November 4, 1970.
In the first several years after Genie's life and circumstances came to light, psychologists, linguists and other scientists focused a great deal of attention on Genie's case, seeing in her near-total social isolation an opportunity to study acquisition of language skills and linguistic development. Scrutiny of their new-found human subject enabled them to publish academic works testing theories and hypotheses identifying critical periods during which humans learn to understand and use language. During the course of their research, Genie gradually started to acquire and develop new language skills. When funding and research interest eventually waned and she was placed in new foster homes, those skills regressed.
She was originally cared for at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and her living arrangements later became the subject of rancorous debate and litigation. She was repeatedly uprooted, first moving to the homes of the researchers who studied her, then into foster care, her mother's house, and then through a series of institutions for disabled adults where she experienced further physical and emotional abuse. As of 2008[update], she was in psychological confinement as a ward of the state of California and living in a private facility for mentally underdeveloped people; her real name and current residence remain undisclosed. Genie's case has been extensively compared with that of Victor of Aveyron, an eighteenth-century French child whose life similarly became a case study for research about delayed development and language acquisition.
Early history 
Genie was the fourth and last child of parents living in Arcadia, California. Her father worked in a factory as a flight mechanic during World War II and got a job in the aviation industry after the war ended; her mother had come to California as a teenager with family friends fleeing the Dust Bowl. Neither one of them had any meaningful level of education. Her mother's family and friends opposed the marriage because her father was twenty years older than his bride. The couple seemed happy to some who knew them, but others saw Genie's father as something of a distant loner. Her mother suffered beatings at his hands. Over time, the beatings became more and more frequent. Genie's mother already had vision problems, caused by neurological damage stemming from a childhood accident. After she married, her eyesight became progressively worse, due to the pre-existing neurological damage, severe cataracts and a detached retina. Ever-diminishing vision forced her to become increasingly dependent on her husband.
From the outset of their relationship, Genie's father was adamant about not wanting children. Still, after about five years of marriage her mother became pregnant. Genie's father continued to beat her, right through her pregnancy. She was already in the hospital recovering from an especially severe beating when she went into labor, but gave birth to a daughter who appeared to be healthy. Disturbed by the girl's crying, her father placed the infant in the garage; at 10 weeks old, she died of pneumonia. A second child, a boy diagnosed with Rh incompatibility, died at two days of age, allegedly from choking on his own mucus. Another son was born three years later, once again with Rh incompatibility. He was slow to develop, and late to walk and to talk. When he was four, his paternal grandmother grew concerned about her son's increasing instability and took over her grandson's care; he made good progress with her before eventually being returned to his parents. Around the time Genie was born, her father began to isolate himself and his family from those around them.
At birth, Genie too showed signs of Rh incompatibility, and required blood transfusion the day after she was born. Otherwise, she was born at a healthy weight and size. A medical appointment at three months showed that she was gaining weight normally, but doctors discovered she had a congenital hip dislocation which required use of a highly restrictive Frejka splint for seven months. At subsequent appointments, up until the age of 11 months, records noted that she was alert and sitting up alone, but falling behind in weight gain; at birth she had been in the 50th percentile for weight, but at age 11 months, she was down to the 11th percentile. Genie's mother later recalled that she was not a cuddly baby and resisted eating solid food. When Genie was 14 months old, she came down with a fever and was examined by a pediatrician; he said that although he could not make any definitive diagnosis due to her illness, there was a possibility she might be mentally retarded. He also suggested that the brain dysfunction kernicterus might be present, Rh incompatibility being a significant risk factor for kernicterus. Her father took the pediatrician's opinion to mean that Genie was severely retarded, using it as justification for isolating and abusing her.
When Genie was 20 months old, her paternal grandmother was killed by a pickup truck in a hit-and-run traffic accident. As a child, Genie's father had not been very close to his mother, having only had limited contact with her while mostly growing up in various orphanages. During most of his adult life, they had argued constantly about her unsuccessful efforts to convince him to adopt a less rigid lifestyle; however, according to Genie's mother and brother, during his marriage her father was almost singularly fixated on his mother and devoted almost all his love and attention to her, treating his marriage as ancillary, at best. He already had difficulty controlling his anger, and his mother's death had deeply affected him; when the truck's driver subsequently received only a probationary sentence for both manslaughter and drunk driving, he became nearly delusional with rage. After the sentencing, her father quit his job and further increased the family's isolation. They moved into the two-bedroom house his mother had lived in, and left her bedroom untouched as a shrine to her. Genie was increasingly confined to the second bedroom, while the rest of the family slept in the living room.
From the time Genie was born, her father displayed hostility toward her, discouraging his wife from paying her any attention. Researchers later speculated that his mother's death, and the outcome of the subsequent trial, made him feel as if the outside world had failed him, and convinced him to attempt to protect his entire family from the rest of the world. He still believed that Genie was severely retarded, and therefore needed additional protection; in his nearly delusional state, he believed the best way to provide this was to hide Genie's existence entirely.
During the day, Genie was tied to a child's toilet in a makeshift harness designed like a straightjacket to keep her from moving her arms or legs, wearing only diapers and only able to move her extremities. At night, when her father did not forget her, she was bound in a sleeping bag and placed in a crib with a metal-screen cover, her arms and legs immobilized. Researchers concluded that Genie's father kept a large wooden plank in her room, and would beat her with it if she vocalized. To keep her quiet he would bare his teeth and bark and growl at her like a wild dog, and he grew his nails out to scratch her; if he suspected her of doing something he did not like he would intimidate her by making these noises while standing outside the door, and would come in and beat her if he believed she had continued. The exact reason for this dog-like behavior was never definitively discerned, but at least one of the scientists who studied Genie speculated her father viewed himself as a guard dog and was trying to act out the role. In addition to doing it himself, Genie's father sometimes made Genie's brother bark and growl at Genie as well. This instilled an intense fear of cats and dogs in Genie that persisted long after she was freed.
Apart from her father's beatings, Genie's only meaningful human interaction was when she was being fed. She was given no solid food; instead, she was fed baby food, cereal, pablum, an occasional soft-boiled egg, and liquids. Food was spooned into her mouth as quickly as possible, and if she choked or could not swallow fast enough it would be rubbed into her face. Although Genie's mother claimed Genie was fed three times a day, she also said that when Genie was hungry she would risk a beating by making noise to get attention, which led researchers to believe Genie's father frequently refused to feed her. Bowing to pressure to keep contact with his sister to a minimum, her brother, who was himself frequently beaten by their father, was often forced to feed Genie in this manner. The few minutes during which Genie was being fed were normally the only times Genie's mother was allowed to be around her, but she could not feed Genie herself. Once, when Genie was suffering from constipation, her father forced her to drink an entire bottle of castor oil; the ensuing effect on her health was so serious that Genie's father allowed a physician to examine Genie, and Genie ultimately barely survived the incident.
The only sensory stimulation Genie experienced from outside her home came by way of two windows, through which she could hear some traffic noises and see both the side of a neighboring house and a couple inches of sky, and could also occasionally hear birds and airplanes flying over the house. Even these stimuli would have been extremely limited, as the windows were almost entirely blacked out and the house was set a long way away from the street. On rare occasions, her father would also allow her to play with plastic food containers, old spools of thread, TV Guides with most of the illustrations cut out, and two plastic raincoats. He had an extremely low tolerance for noise, to the point of refusing to have a working television or radio in the house. He almost never allowed Genie's mother or brother to speak, and beat them if he heard them talking; when they did talk, it was always very quiet and out of Genie's earshot. They were particularly forbidden to speak to or around Genie, which prevented her from hearing any meaningful amount of language other than her father's occasional swearing. He almost never permitted anyone to leave the house, only allowing Genie's brother to go to school; even he was required to prove his identity before entering the house, as Genie's father wanted to be absolutely sure the family remained in complete isolation. To discourage disobedience, he frequently sat in the living room with a shotgun in his lap. He would leave the outside lights on at night to help prevent anyone else from going near the house, and kept his gun nearby in case someone did come.
Genie's mother was almost completely blind by this time, and was essentially passive by nature to begin with. Her husband threatened to kill her if she attempted to contact her parents, close friends who lived nearby, or the police. He also forced Genie's brother into silence, giving him instructions on how to keep his father's actions secret and beating him more often and more severely as he grew older. Genie's brother felt completely powerless to do anything to stop his father, as he knew his mother could not put up any resistance and feared he would face severe retribution for attempting to intervene. Completely convinced that Genie would die by age 12 her father promised that, if she survived past that age, he would allow his wife to seek outside assistance. When Genie turned 12 he reneged on that promise, and Genie's mother took no action for another year.
In late October 1970, after Genie's mother and father had a violent argument, Genie's mother left her husband to live with her parents in Monterey Park and took Genie with her; Genie's brother, by then 18, had already run away from home to live with friends of his. A 2002 episode of the television series Body Shock said they got away while Genie's father was out buying groceries. Three weeks later, on November 4, Genie's mother brought Genie along while seeking disability benefits in nearby Temple City, California on account of her near-blindness when she inadvertently entered the general social services office next door. The social worker who greeted them instantly sensed something was not right when she saw Genie; she was shocked to learn Genie's true age was 13, having estimated from her appearance and demeanor that she was around 6 or 7 and possibly autistic. She notified her supervisor, and after they questioned Genie's mother and confirmed Genie's age immediately contacted the police. Genie's parents were arrested and Genie became a ward of the court, and a court order was immediately issued for Genie to be taken to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Upon her admission David Rigler, a therapist and USC psychology professor who was the chief psychologist at the hospital, and Howard Hansen, then the head of the psychiatry division and an early expert on child abuse, took direct control of Genie's care. The day after Genie's admission physician James Kent, another early advocate for child abuse awareness, examined her. He later stated this examination revealed by far the most severe case of child abuse he would ever encounter in his career, and after completing it he was extremely pessimistic about Genie's prognosis. The officer who arrested Genie's parents questioned them with his partner, and found that Genie's mother would not speak to the media about her family—and particularly not her children—and Genie's father refused to say anything to them; he later said that Genie's father never seemed to acknowledge anything being said to him. When officers interviewed people in the neighborhood, they found no one knew Genie's parents ever had another child, and neighbors of the family were stunned and horrified when police informed them of Genie's existence and of the abuse Genie's father had inflicted on his wife and children. In the house the family had been living in, police found several devices Genie's father used to restrain and hit Genie. They also discovered detailed notes Genie's father had written, chronicling both his mistreatment of his family and his efforts to conceal it; after reading through them, the lead detective on the investigation said, "Hitler could have taken lessons from [Genie's father]". Rigler said the hospital could not get Genie's developmental history, and the doctors largely relied on the police investigation to piece together what had happened.
News of Genie's rescue reached major media outlets on November 17, 1970, receiving a great deal of local and national media attention. That night, Walter Cronkite included a segment on Genie in the evening news. The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story on Genie both that day and the next, and continued to run prominent stories on Genie and her family for a week after the story initially broke. Newspaper reports showed several photographs of the other members of Genie's family in their stories, and local and regional television news networks shot extensive video of Genie's parents. However, only one picture of Genie herself was publicly released; this picture, shown both in the November 17th Los Angeles Times article and on the CBS Evening News report, significantly fueled public interest in the case. Children's Hospital staff said reporters regularly came to the hospital hoping to see Genie, making it very difficult to maintain her anonymity as Hansen and Rigler had planned. Acting at least partially on advice from his attorney, despite requests from reporters Genie's father refused to speak to the media. Genie's brother, who by then was living with his maternal grandparents, also made no public statements, but cooperated with the investigation and gave detectives important information on his father's abuse.
After the story reached the media, large crowds went to the family's house to try to see Genie's father, which he reportedly found extremely difficult to handle. On November 20, on the morning before a scheduled court appearance on charges of child abuse, Genie's father committed suicide by gunshot; his son was standing with a friend outside the house, with no knowledge of his father's intentions. When police arrived, they found two suicide notes from Genie's father. One, for his son, contained instructions for what to do with a few of his possessions, and the other was directed at the police. One of the notes—police did not specify which—contained the declaration, "The world will never understand."
After the initial police investigation, law enforcement and hospital staff exclusively focused on Genie and her mother; they almost entirely left Genie's brother on his own, which the lead detective on the case later said he regretted. After a very short time staying with his maternal grandparents and then his mother, he left the area and spent several years wandering throughout the country, eventually losing touch with his family. The Children's Hospital staff, especially Kent, wanted to keep Genie's mother involved in Genie's life because she was Genie's only association with her past. Hansen was an acquaintance of attorney John Miner, and to keep Genie's mother from going to jail asked Miner to represent her in court; Miner, who knew about the case from the media and had already taken considerable interest in it, readily agreed to defend her. She told the court that beatings at the hands of her husband and her near-total blindness had left her unable to intervene on Genie's behalf. Charges against her were subsequently dropped, and she received counseling at Children's Hospital; Hansen was her therapist's direct supervisor. The following year, with the consent of Genie's mother and her psychologists, Miner was named Genie's legal guardian.
Characteristics and personality 
Genie was extremely pale and severely undersized for her age, standing 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m) and weighing only 59 pounds (27 kg). Her gross motor skills were extremely weak; she could not stand up straight nor do anything requiring her to fully straighten her arms or legs. Kent was surprised to find her fine motor skills were significantly better than her gross motor abilities, determining they were at approximately the level of a two-year-old, as he thought these would be equally weak; the day after her admission to Children's Hospital, Kent noticed she had little difficulty using her fingers to flip through the pages of a magazine. She could not focus her eyes on anything more than 10 feet (3 m) away, and her characteristic "bunny walk", in which she held her hands in front of her like claws, suggested an inability to integrate visual and tactile information; when Victor of Aveyron was first found, he had exhibited similar difficulties with sensory integration.
As Genie was unable to chew solid food, she would hold her food in her mouth until her saliva broke it down, and if the process took too long she spat it out and used her fingers to mash it. She could barely swallow, and had almost two full sets of teeth in her mouth, requiring oral surgery. The restraining harness her father used had caused a thick callus and heavy black bruising on her buttocks, which took several weeks to heal. She was also completely incontinent. Like Victor of Aveyron, she seemed completely unaffected by certain strong sensations, especially extreme temperatures; even years after her rescue, when she was allowed to bathe and shower by herself, researchers observed that she would use very cold water. Doctors noticed her extreme fear of cats and dogs from the outset, but attributed it to an inability to think rationally; its actual origin was not discerned until years later.
After moving into Children's Hospital, Genie showed interest in many members of the hospital staff, often approaching complete strangers in the hospital and walking with them; Kent said that, even at the very beginning of her stay, she made very good eye contact. When eating, she would sometimes try to give her food to the person sitting next to her before grabbing for their food. However, she showed no signs of attachment to anyone in particular, including members of her own family; at first, she seemed much more interested in hospital staff than her family. When her mother and brother came for their first visit at the hospital, Kent and Genie were playing with some puppets she had taken a liking to; Kent said Genie walked up to her mother and gave her a brief, expressionless look before turning around and resuming her play, and despite her brother's greeting she walked directly past him and neither paid any attention to him nor acknowledged his presence. Kent said she did not seem to distinguish between different individuals, and thought she seemed more interested in the room she was in than the people who were there with her.
At first, Genie would not allow anyone to touch her, quickly shying away from any attempts at physical contact. Although she would sit on her mother's lap when requested, she would remain very tense and got up as quickly as possible; at least once, as soon as she got away from her mother she burst out into a silent tantrum. Hospital staff noted Genie's mother seemed entirely oblivious to the way Genie reacted to her mother's signs of affection; at least once, her mother commented on how happy she thought Genie had been.
Initially, she showed no understanding of any grammar whatsoever and only responded to about 15–20 words; she knew "mother" and "father", a few color words, and a few other miscellaneous words for objects such as "jewelry box", "door", and "bunny". Her active vocabulary consisted of just two short phrases, "stop it" and "no more". Doctors had immediately noticed her complete lack of speech, but at first could not tell whether this was because she had no language or if she was selectively mute; after testing her and checking existing medical records researchers determined it was the former, as they could not uncover any mental condition which would have prevented her from acquiring language. Kent said that, despite her lack of language, he was certain from the first time he evaluated her that she had memories of her past, but she had no way of communicating them to anyone.
Although she almost never vocalized, Genie continually sniffed, salivated, spat and clawed, and appeared very interested in exploring environmental stimuli. When she was upset, she would wildly spit and scratch and strike herself; her face would remain completely expressionless, and she never cried or vocalized. Some accounts said she could not cry at all. Doctors knew her father's abuse had played some role in this, but did not find out until much later the extent to which he had forced her to repress outward expressions. She also had no sense of personal property, frequently pointing to or simply taking something she wanted from someone else. Nonetheless, hospital staff hoped to nurture her closer to normality.
Preliminary assessment 
Early on, Jay Shurley, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Oklahoma and a specialist in extreme social isolation, took an interest in Genie's case. During Genie's first six months at Children's Hospital Shurley came on three three-day visits, and got permission from hospital doctors to carry out a sleep study on each of these visits; from his studies, he hoped to determine whether she had been born mentally retarded, had sustained irreversible brain damage due to her severe malnutrition which left her retarded, or had merely been rendered functionally retarded by her isolation and abuse. This information would help determine her prognosis, and Shurley said this would be necessary to determine the course of a potential case study. He concluded she had been retarded from birth, pointing to atypically high numbers of sleep spindles, a phenomenon typical of subjects born with severe retardation. However, the people following the case remained divided on the issue. Much later, for example, Susan Curtiss emphatically argued that, though Genie clearly had serious emotional difficulties, she could not have been retarded. Curtiss pointed out that, for every calendar year after her rescue, Genie had made a year's developmental progress, which would not be expected if her condition was congenital.
Shurley also noted that Genie's was the most severe case of isolation he had ever studied or heard about—over twenty years later, he said the abuse she suffered was far more extreme than anything he ever knew of—and offered several suggestions about how to work with her based on his experience. When he first met Genie he was insistent that her transition to the outside world be very gradual, comparing it to slowly bringing someone with decompression sickness back up from underwater. David Rigler said that, despite their later disagreements, Shurley's recommendations were the only useful advice he ever received on handling Genie and he attempted to follow them as much as possible. Shurley thought Genie made for an excellent case study on many fronts, and in the early part of his involvement assisted with research. Over subsequent years, from his home in Oklahoma City Shurley remained in contact with many of the people around Genie, and periodically traveled back to California to visit with Genie, her mother, and the other scientists.
Hospital stay 
After Genie's rescue, the doctors at Children's Hospital began teaching her to speak and socialize. The day after her admission, James Kent was assigned to be Genie's therapist and thought a steady presence in Genie's life would help her learn to form relationships, so he made it a point to accompany her on walks and to all of her appointments. When Kent first met with her he tried to discern her emotional and intellectual state, and found that she seemed afraid of a small puppet he had taken out. When she threw it on the floor Kent pretended to be concerned and said "We have to get him back", and was startled when she repeated the word "back" and nervously laughed. Playing with this and similar puppets quickly became her favorite activity, and during the early part of her stay was, apart from her tantrums, one of the only times doctors could see her express any kind of emotion.
Within a few days of arriving at Children's Hospital Genie started learning to dress herself and began voluntarily using the toilet, although incontinence continued to be a problem for her even years later, tending to resurface when she felt under duress. After two weeks, Kent decided to take Genie to play in the yard outside the hospital's rehabilitation center, hoping to give her a sense of freedom. She quickly began growing and putting on weight, and although her walk remained very distinctive she steadily became more confident in her movements. Around this time, Kent and the other hospital staff began to see Genie as a potential case study, and David Rigler obtained a small grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to do some preliminary studies on her.
Genie quickly developed a sense of possession, hoarding objects to which she took a liking. Colorful plastic objects quickly became her favorite things to collect and play with; she did not seem to care whether they were toys or ordinary containers, although she especially sought out and collected beach pails. Doctors believed this was because while in captivity, she only had small plastic food containers and two plastic raincoats. Later during her stay, when Kent started taking her on trips outside the hospital, Genie's favorite places were stores with plastic toys. When she wanted to go shopping while they were out, she would point to buildings and ask "Store?" If someone in a toy store looked interesting to her or was holding something she liked, she would walk right up to and attach herself to who or what had caught her attention.
All of the doctors noticed how intensely she explored her surroundings, although she still seemed more intrigued by objects than other children. Doctors saw she enjoyed intentionally dropping or destroying small objects in the hospital's play area, and instead of discouraging her most of the hospital staff, especially Kent, tried to use this to get her to outwardly express her anger. She also showed deep fascination with classical music played on the piano in front of her; Susan Curtiss said she acted like she was in a trance when she heard something she enjoyed, and that sometimes she looked as if she was hallucinating. If the song being played was anything other than classical music, she took it upon herself to change the sheet music to a piece she knew she liked. In captivity, she could regularly hear a neighboring child practicing the piano; as this was one of the very few sensations available to her at the time, researchers thought it may have been the origin of her interest. Genie quickly developed remarkable nonverbal communication skills and soon learned to imitate other people, make consistent eye contact, vocalize, and express herself through gestures.
Within two months of her rescue, Genie's demeanor had considerably changed. The scientists were concerned that she almost never interacted with other children—one psychiatrist who visited her in May 1971 said she seemed to view other children "as though for her they were no different from the walls and furniture in the room"—but after a month she started to become sociable with familiar adults, first with Kent and soon extending to other hospital staff. They noticed she was afraid of men who wore khaki pants, and saw she showed a particular affinity for men with beards; they attributed the latter to her father having been clean-shaven, which lent considerable credence to Kent's initial impression that Genie remembered her childhood. Her preference was so marked that when Jay Shurley planned to visit in May 1971, Genie's special education teacher, Jean Butler, wrote him a letter in which she emphatically told him to keep his beard. By that January, her scores on the Leiter International Performance Scale tests had dramatically increased. Overall her mental age was found to be at the level of a typical 4 year 9 month old, but on individual components she showed a very high level of scatter; for instance, her ability to bathe herself was at the level of a typical 9 year old, but she was still unable to chew food better than a normal 2–3 year old. One morning a few months after admission to the hospital, when a minor earthquake struck Los Angeles, she ran frightened into the kitchen and rapidly verbalized to some of the cooks she had befriended; this was noted as the first time she had sought out comfort from another person and the first time she had so profusely verbalized.
After charges were dropped against Genie's mother, she began visiting the hospital twice a week. Kent said as Genie got better at forming relationships with hospital staff she grew more comfortable with her mother and began eagerly anticipating visits, and doctors saw Genie begin more openly expressing happiness when she knew her mother was coming. However, Genie still had a hard time with large crowds, even after months at the hospital; at her birthday party, she became so anxious at all the guests present she had to go outside to calm down. After a few months, she started engaging in physical play with adults, eventually beginning to enjoy giving and receiving hugs. In April 1971 she began to direct some of her anger outwards, but she did not entirely stop harming herself. A month later, and approximately six months after admission to the hospital, child psychologist David Elkind evaluated Genie and reported she understood object permanence. Around the same time, after Genie heard a dog Elkind said she later attempted to imitate its barking, the first time she tried to reenact something after it happened; Elkind and the hospital psychologists saw both as major cognitive gains. In mid-June 1971, when Susan Curtiss had begun going on trips around town with Kent and Genie, she noticed Genie enjoyed going up to random peoples' front doors; Curtiss said Genie seemed to hope someone would notice her and invite her in.
Early communication progress 
After five months of therapy, although her speech was difficult to understand, her vocabulary had steadily increased, she could spontaneously provide one-word answers, and she appeared to understand some give-and-take of conversation. Hospital staff observed she would frequently say "No" but not actually mean it, which she continued to do for some time even after her vocabulary expanded. One day in May 1971 when she was with Jean Butler, Butler had asked another boy holding two balloons how many balloons he had; when the boy said "three", Butler said Genie appeared startled and immediately handed him another balloon. This was seen as a significant step, as it demonstrated that she was listening to other people, she understood significantly more language than she was producing, and that she could count to at least some degree. By the time Curtiss met Genie, she was extremely eager to expand her vocabulary; Curtiss said Genie would frequently grab her hand and point it towards objects for which she wanted to know the word. If Curtiss could not figure out exactly what Genie was looking for, Genie refused to let go until she learned at least one new word. Genie seemed particularly eager to learn the words for colors, expressing disappointment if Curtiss could not name the color she wanted to know.
Genie gradually began to express more of her emotions outwards, and her nonverbal communication skills quickly became exceptional; everyone who met her said she had an indescribable way of capturing and eliciting other people's emotions, and researchers noticed many instances where she seemed to be able to communicate her desires to people without saying a single word. When Curtiss and Kent went to toy stores with Genie, they frequently found that complete strangers had bought something for her because they sensed she wanted it, and both of them were amazed that these gifts were always exactly the types of objects she most enjoyed. One day when Curtiss and Genie were waiting to cross a street, Curtiss was stunned when a woman stopped at an intersection emptied her plastic purse and jumped out to give it to Genie; the entire time, Genie never said anything. Genie had also befriended a local butcher without ever having to speak to him, and whenever they visited him Curtiss said he gave Genie a small piece of meat which she would study, smell, and rub on her lips before eating. During the brief time David Elkind worked with Genie, he took her on a walk through Griffith Park; he said she was fascinated by everything around her, though he observed her intense fear of dogs, and like Curtiss and Kent noted how intently she explored her surroundings. On these trips outside the hospital, Curtiss would deliberately act silly to help Genie release some of her pent-up tension. Her doctors, at that time, predicted completely successful rehabilitation.
Brain testing 
Beginning in 1971, scientists conducted a series of neurolinguistic tests on Genie. In early March 1971, researchers Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima came from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to administer their own series of brain exams. Doctors already suspected Genie's brain was extremely right-hemisphere dominant, but the tests went even further and showed the asymmetry was at a level of severity which had previously only been documented in patients with either split-brain or who had had their left hemispheres surgically removed. Genie was right-handed and her brain was completely physically intact, but her left hemisphere appeared to have undergone no specialization whatsoever.
In most right-handed people the left ear, which is more strongly connected to the right hemisphere, tends to better process environmental and musical sounds, while the right ear is better at picking up language. This preference is usually very subtle, and the difference between ears is usually very slight; however, despite having typical hearing in both ears, on dichotic listening tests researchers found Genie identified language sounds with 100% accuracy in her left ear while correctly answering at a chance level when using her right ear. On non-language dichotic listening tests she showed a slight preference for her left ear, which was normal for a right-handed person and helped rule out the possibility that her brain's hemispheres were only reversed in dominance (as is the case in approximately 5% of right-handed people), and her monaural tests were 100% accurate in both ears; this discrepancy was far larger than what is found in most people. This suggested that, despite her early development as a normal right-handed person, the competition between her ears was only between her right ear ipsilateral and left ear contralateral pathways. These findings led researchers to conclude that she was processing both environmental and language sounds exclusively in her right hemisphere, which in turn meant that Genie's language acquisition was solely taking place in her right hemisphere.
In addition to listening tests, Bellugi and Klima gave Genie tachistoscopic and evoked response tests. These showed she performed most tasks primarily using her right hemisphere, such as perspective (something which rapidly became evident in many of Genie's drawings; by October 1971 she regularly depicted silhouettes and figures in profile, both of which require a relatively high degree of sophistication), holistic recall of unrelated objects, gestalt perception, and number perception, at a much higher level than those typically performed by the left hemisphere, such as tests on sequential order. Some abilities, such as her spatial awareness, were at or higher than the level of a typical adult, indicating that her brain had lateralized and that her right hemisphere had undergone specialization; on spatial awareness tests, her scores were reportedly the highest ever recorded to that point. There were a few primarily right hemisphere tasks she did not perform well on; she was noted to have difficulty with certain facial recognition tests and certain tests on remembering designs. Curtiss' explanation was that these tasks normally require the use of both hemispheres, which would be very difficult for Genie since she almost exclusively used her already-specialized right hemisphere.
Bellugi and Klima also noted that Genie seemed to understand a considerably larger number of words than she would spontaneously say, but could not tell exactly what cues she was using to respond to other peoples' speech. They recommended using tests and games to establish her comprehension, writing that these would more accurately pinpoint her linguistic abilities than relying solely on her spontaneous speech, and emphasized that any non-language cues such as tone of voice and facial expressions would have to be eliminated to yield the best possible results. Subsequent sets of brain exams conducted at the Brain Research Institute at UCLA, under the direction of Curtiss, Victoria Fromkin, and Stephen Krashen—then also one of Fromkin's graduate students—largely confirmed Bellugi and Klima's original findings. However, she was noted to have done markedly better on facial recognition tests. In addition to Curtiss' 1975 reference to anecdotal instances where Genie had managed to recognize someone, on a Mooney Face Test Genie was asked to identify the real faces out of a set of 70, of which 50 were real and 20 were false; she got all of the real faces and only missed 6 of the false ones, which was far higher than the level of a typical adult.  Curtiss also remembered one instance when she and Fromkin attempted to test Genie's memory for design, using a group of sticks to form a shape and having Genie replicate it from memory; although the sticks were of different colors, Curtiss said that for purposes of the test they only cared about her ability to copy the structure. Curtiss was surprised when Genie not only reconstructed the design, but exactly copied the colors of the sticks from the original as well.
Interest as a case study 
Coincidentally, the François Truffaut film The Wild Child premiered in the United States only a week after Genie's rescue. The movie, chronicling the life of Victor of Aveyron and the efforts of deaf-mute instructor and then-aspiring medical student Jean Marc Gaspard Itard to teach him language and integrate him into society, heightened public interest in cases of children subjected to extreme abuse or isolation. Hypotheses of Noam Chomsky and Eric Lenneberg about the innateness and acquisition of language were being widely discussed in both lay and academic circles, but there had been no way to test their hypotheses. Though ancient texts made several references to language deprivation experiments, modern researchers labeled such ideas "The Forbidden Experiment", impossible to carry out for ethical reasons. Prompted by this coincidence of timing, a team of Children's Hospital scientists led by David Rigler sought and obtained a grant from the NIMH to study Genie in May 1971. Butler suggested that on the first day the team met, they should screen The Wild Child as an inspiration for ideas; the scientists later said the film had a profound impact on them because they immediately saw the parallels with Genie's case. The primary focus of their research was to test Lenneberg's theory that humans have a critical age threshold for language acquisition, and linguistic evaluation would be headed by UCLA linguistics professor Victoria Fromkin. Lenneberg knew about the case but declined to participate, saying no definitive conclusions could be drawn because the level of trauma associated with Genie's confinement and her father's beatings was impossible to discern. The research team also planned to continue periodic evaluations of Genie's psychological development, which had begun shortly after her admission to Children's Hospital, in various aspects of her life. From the time Genie had been admitted to Children's Hospital researchers had tried to keep her identity concealed, and it was around the time of the grant proposal that the researchers adopted the pseudonym Genie for her. The name referenced parallels researchers saw between Genie's sudden emergence into society from captivity past childhood and a genie's sudden emergence from a bottle without having a human childhood.
The scientists later said there were many ideas on what the scope of the study should be, and pinning down its direction was very difficult. A few said the environment grew increasingly hostile as the meetings went on and became less focused on doing what was best for Genie in the interest of research; Elkind said that despite his already existing personal friendship with Rigler he declined to become further involved, and Shurley claimed the atmosphere he witnessed at the meetings made him increasingly leery of the way researchers were handling Genie and caused him to remain on the periphery of the case. However, many others adamantly maintained there had neither been any animosity nor any notion that Genie's welfare was not their first priority. Instead, they said the difficulty was simply due to the exceptional nature of the case. Even Shurley said he fully understood how difficult the task of giving the study a coherent direction had been, and although he was surprised Rigler chose to carry out a study focused on language acquisition—he had pushed for more focus on her social and emotional development, and had only been marginally aware of Fromkin's work with Genie prior to Rigler handing down his decision—did not have any objection to it.
At around the same time Susan Curtiss began her work on Genie's case, as a graduate student in linguistics under Victoria Fromkin; Curtiss would go on to become one of the most influential figures in Genie's life over the coming years. Curtiss already knew of the case from the news reports when the story first broke, and used video and transcripts from the hospital to piece together Genie's progress during the time before they met. Together with Fromkin, she tested Genie and tracked her language acquisition, writing numerous papers that covered various aspects of Genie's progress. When Curtiss first met Genie she realized Genie's language was not yet at a usefully testable level, so she decided to devote the summer to simply getting to know Genie and gaining her friendship. By then, Kent had started taking Genie on trips outside the hospital, and Curtiss began to go along with them; she and Genie very quickly bonded with each other. During the summer of 1971, while Curtiss was still in the process of befriending Genie, she and Fromkin realized existing linguistic tests would not yield meaningful results, so with Bellugi and Klima's advice in mind they designed a set of 26 completely new tests from which they extrapolated most of their data. Curtiss also began recording every spontaneous utterance she heard Genie make, ultimately compiling a list of approximately a few thousand by the time she completed her dissertation in 1977.
First foster home 
Genie's teacher at Children's Hospital, Jean Butler, became very close to her; Jay Shurley, especially praised, Butler's work with Genie. In June 1971, Butler obtained permission to take Genie on day trips to her home in Country Club Park, Los Angeles. After one of these trips, Butler told the hospital that she (Butler) may have contracted rubella, to which Genie would have been exposed. The scientists were very skeptical of Butler's story, strongly suspecting she had concocted it as part of a bid for foster custody; nonetheless Genie was temporarily quarantined in Butler's home as an alternative to isolation at the hospital. Butler, who was unmarried and living alone at the time and childless, subsequently petitioned for foster custody of Genie, and despite the hospital's objections the stay was extended while authorities considered the matter.
Butler's observations 
During Genie's stay in her home, Butler continued observing, writing about, and filming Genie. One behavior she documented was Genie's hoarding, first observed at Children's Hospital; in particular, Genie collected and kept dozens of containers of liquid in her room. The scientists did not know what caused this, although it is a common trait of children from abusive homes. On several occasions Butler went to the beach with Genie, who seemed fascinated with the water and waded in up to her ankles. Butler worked on Genie's ongoing incontinence problems, which gradually eased and almost entirely went away by the end of her stay. Although Butler could not discern the reason for Genie's intense fear of cats and dogs, after witnessing it firsthand Butler tried to help Genie overcome her fear by watching episodes of the television series Lassie with her and giving her a battery-powered toy dog. Butler wrote that eventually Genie could tolerate fenced dogs, though there was no progress with cats. Butler, the scientists, and the NIMH evaluating committee all noted a marked improvement in Genie's demeanor during her stay with Butler, stating that she seemed more relaxed. They also noticed that soon after moving in, Genie started showing signs of reaching puberty; this both indicated a dramatic improvement in her overall health and definitively put her past the critical period in Lenneberg's hypothesis, although David Rigler said the onset of menstruation this entailed had complicated their efforts to deal with her incontinence.
Butler's journal and films are the only data available on Genie's speech during this time, as Curtiss' dissertation contains nothing from this period. Butler claimed that soon after Genie had moved in with her, Genie had become far more verbal. Butler specifically wrote she had taught Genie to say "yes" to other people, to use negative forms of words, to help her stop hurting herself, and to express her anger through words or by hitting objects. Around a month into Genie's stay, Butler said Genie had argued with her over not wanting to come inside, which would have been the first time Genie had expressed her disagreement in language. In early August, Butler wrote to Jay Shurley that Genie had begun to regularly use two-word sentences, and sometimes two adjacent adjectives to describe nouns, as in e.g., "one black kitty". Butler said the man she was dating—who was himself a former professor at the University of Southern California and a well-known, respected psychologist—commented on Genie's progress, calling her "my little yakker". She also reported that a few days prior, when she asked Genie why she had thrown her new pet goldfish outside, Genie explained "bad orange fish—no eat—bad fish"—which would have been by far her longest utterance to that point.
While Genie was living with her, Butler allowed Genie's mother, who had regained much of her eyesight through corrective cataract surgery arranged for her by her therapists, to come on weekly visits. After her surgery she reportedly reformed her opinions of several of the scientists, and when she saw Genie for the first time she was shocked and concerned at how thin Genie was. However, Butler strenuously resisted visits by the scientists, whom she felt overtaxed Genie and to whom she began disparagingly referring in her journal as the "Genie Team", a name which stuck. Butler particularly disliked James Kent and Susan Curtiss, writing that Kent was too permissive towards Genie's behavior and Curtiss was not experienced enough in dealing with children and overzealous in her efforts to get Genie to speak; during the latter part of Genie's stay at Butler's house, both of them were prevented from visiting. She frequently argued with the scientists about Genie's handling, especially with Rigler, although he maintained that these disputes were never as heated or personalized as Butler portrayed them.
The scientists strongly contested Butler's claims of pushing Genie too hard, contending that Genie enjoyed the tests and was allowed to take breaks at will. They viewed Butler as personally troubled, noting her longstanding and widely known reputation for combativeness among coworkers and superiors. Several of the scientists, especially Curtiss, recalled Butler openly stating that she hoped Genie would make her famous; Curtiss remembered Butler repeatedly proclaiming her intent to be "the next Anne Sullivan". She also demanded several times to be credited in the scientists' research publications; although Rigler initially acquiesced, the scientists eventually decided against it. During Genie's stay, Butler believed authorities would view her pending foster application more favorably if she could offer a two-parent home for Genie; to do this, Butler had the man she was dating move in with her. Butler wrote he and Genie got along very well, which Shurley later corroborated, and both Butler and Rigler said he sometimes attempted to mediate disputes between Butler and the scientists. Despite Butler receiving positive evaluations from both the agency's case handler and the NIMH's evaluating committee, the case handler's superiors were very divided over the adequacy of Butler's home.
In mid-August, California authorities informed Butler they had rejected her application for foster custody. The extent, if any, to which Children's Hospital influenced that decision is unclear. Rigler maintained several times that despite the scientists' objections to Butler's application, neither the hospital nor its staff had intervened, and said the decision surprised him. In early August he had written a letter to Butler—copies of which he had sent to Kent, Howard Hansen, and the agency's case handler—in which he said that despite his frustration due to her lack of cooperation with the scientists, he thought her home was suitable and her application was likely to be accepted. The NOVA documentary on Genie, however, states the rejection of Ruch came partially on the recommendation of the hospital; there is evidence many hospital authorities felt Butler's ability to care for Genie was inadequate, and hospital policy forbade its staff members from becoming foster parents of its patients. Butler herself believed the hospital had opposed her application so Genie could be moved somewhere more conducive to research, and wrote that Genie, upon being told of the decision, was extremely upset and had said "No, no, no." She did not see Genie again for several years, though she stayed in contact with Genie's mother. Over the course of the next 15 years, she made repeated attacks on the scientists working with Genie in numerous forums.
Second foster home 
Before Genie was removed from Jean Butler's house, she was returned to Children's Hospital; on the same day, she was transferred to David Rigler's home in Los Feliz. The scientists had agreed they wanted Genie to have a home to live in, and after denying Butler custody the state had been unable to find anyone else. In early August, Hansen had suggested Rigler take custody of Genie if authorities rejected Butler, and although he initially balked at the idea decided to talk it over with his wife, Marilyn. They had three adolescent children of their own, and ultimately decided they would be willing to care for Genie temporarily until a new foster home became available if no one else would do so; Marilyn had graduate training as a social worker and had just completed a graduate degree in human development, and had worked in both nursery schools and Head Start Programs. All of the scientists knew how unusual it was to make David Rigler a foster parent while still one of Genie's therapists and the head of the scientific team, but there was consensus that Genie needed to live someplace where she could form relationships with specific people, and researchers thought the Riglers' home offered the stable environment they wanted for her.
Despite the hospital's policy, they and the state consented and the Riglers were made temporary foster parents; although they initially intended the arrangement to last for three months at most, Genie ultimately stayed with them for four years. While living with them Marilyn became Genie's new teacher and Susan Curtiss was allowed to visit almost every day, both to conduct her tests and to go on outings with Genie. Shortly after Genie moved in, one of the Riglers' children went away to college, enabling Genie to have her own room and bathroom in the house. Much of Genie's development during this time was captured on film, and David Rigler said she eventually learned how to operate the cameras herself.
Behavioral progress 
Upon moving in with them, Genie's incontinence issues resurfaced, and Marilyn noticed her speech was much more halting and hesitant than Butler had described. Unless she saw a dog or something else which frightened her, Genie's speech and behavior exhibited a great deal of latency; often, her responses were several minutes delayed. The Riglers also found Genie frequently took things which belonged to their children and could be very destructive, requiring full-time supervision. She was captivated by books, especially National Geographic magazines—of which the Riglers had a very large collection—and David Rigler especially found it disconcerting that she did not hesitate to tear out a page or a picture she liked.
Besides dealing with these problems, Marilyn also found the need to teach Genie unconventional lessons. Despite what Butler had said about stopping Genie's self-harming, Marilyn observed Genie would still act out her anger on herself; to counter this, Marilyn taught Genie to direct her frustrations outward by jumping, slamming doors, hitting objects, stomping her feet, and generally "having a fit." When Marilyn noticed Genie wanted to be complimented on her looks, to further discourage her from attacking herself, Marilyn began painting Genie's fingernails and telling her she did not look good when she scratched and cut her face. When Marilyn could see Genie getting upset, Marilyn would say to her, "You are upset. You are having a rough time." Genie gradually began to communicate her frustration by responding "rough time" when Marilyn said this, eventually only needing to hear "You are upset" before saying "rough time". Later during her stay, Genie could indicate different levels of anger; depending on whether she was very angry or merely frustrated, she would either vigorously shake one finger or loosely wave her hand. Marilyn also helped Genie overcome her continuing difficulties with chewing by giving her progressively tougher foods and physically raising and lowering Genie's jaw—a process which took around four months—and after noticing her complete indifference to temperature, Marilyn worked to help Genie become more attuned to her body's sensations. Both David and Marilyn worked to reduce Genie's fear of dogs, using their own puppy to gradually acclimate her over several days when she first moved in.
As Genie settled into living with the Riglers, her incontinence mostly disappeared and her demeanor improved. After a few months she could eat solid food, and about 10 months after she moved in, on an outing with Curtiss, she expressed her happiness in language to Curtiss. She eventually grew comfortable with the Riglers' cat and dog, and eventually could feed the dog by herself and take it on walks, but remained extremely afraid of unfamiliar cats and dogs. She gradually began to outwardly exhibit more of her emotions; Curtiss said one of the major breakthroughs she observed was when she had arrived at the Rigler's house one morning when Genie was feeling sick, where she found Genie in tears because she had found out she would need to see a doctor. Over the course of several more months, her behavior improved to the point that she started going to first a nursery school and then a public school for mentally retarded children. David Rigler wrote that eventually, she rode the school bus with other people her age and attended social functions at school. She learned how to do some simple chores around the house, such as ironing and operating a sewing machine, and by the end of her stay could make simple meals for herself.
Relationship with her mother 
While Genie was living with the Riglers, her mother continued visiting her, usually meeting once a week at a park or restaurant. Gradually, the bond between her and Genie grew stronger, and David Rigler said they encouraged Genie to go on increasingly frequent overnight visits to her mother's house. However, though the Riglers wanted to keep Genie's mother involved and never expressed any antipathy towards her, while Genie was living with them her mother only visited their house three times. She was living alone and had moved back into the same house in Arcadia, so visiting the Riglers required a full day relying on public transportation both ways. Years later Marilyn also said she was uncomfortable with acting as a mother to Genie in her house in front of Genie's real mother, and thought a more neutral location would help diminish the awkwardness for both of them. Many other scientists on the research team did not welcome the presence of Genie's mother, citing a considerable dislike for her passive role in Genie's early life. Genie's mother got along considerably better with Jay Shurley, who had come from an isolated Texas ranch family similar to hers during her childhood before she moved to California; he thought the other scientists did not treat her as an equal, though he acknowledged the amount of help many of the hospital staff—especially Kent and Howard Hansen—had given her. He also said Genie's mother was acutely aware of, and felt very self-conscious due to, the wide class difference between herself and the researchers.
The scientists, in turn, speculated Genie's mother gave them a mostly cool reception because they were a reminder of her inaction during Genie's childhood. They also thought she was in denial over both Genie's condition and the hand she had in it; David Rigler distinctly remembered one day when she saw Genie walking shortly after her eye surgery, and said she had abruptly asked him "What have you done to her that she walks this way?" Rigler said he regarded both as positive steps for Genie's mother, as it meant the therapy she was receiving was helping her come to terms with what had happened to her and her children, but denied that any of the scientists ever viewed her as inferior. Jean Butler—who had married shortly after Genie was removed from her house and was now using her married name, Ruch—gradually began to exert more influence over Genie's mother while Genie was living with the Riglers, trying to get her to see the scientists and their work in the most negative light possible. During the latter part of Genie's stay there, her mother increasingly started to feel the scientists were marginalizing her.
Language progress 
Before testing 
Children typically begin to use two-word phrases when they have a vocabulary of about 50 words, however, Marilyn Rigler and Curtiss both noted that Genie only began to do so after she could use and understand about 200. Even then, when she first moved in with the Riglers, she remained mostly quiet. After she settled down in her new surroundings her speech, which although much like her general behavior still frequently exhibited a great deal of latency, began to improve. She soon began to understand negative forms, albeit much more accurately and consistently with expressions using the word not (regardless of whether it was used in its full form or as part of a contraction) than with the prefix un. When Genie had first moved in with the Riglers, she did not usually listen to anyone unless being directly addressed or Curtiss was playing classical music on the piano. Only two months later, in mid-October 1971, Curtiss was reading Genie a story when she noticed Genie was clearly listening to her; after that point, she began paying attention to other people talking even when they were not speaking directly to or about her. Sometimes, she would even spontaneously begin contributing to an ongoing conversation.
The scientists observed that, unlike most young children acquiring a first language, Genie seemed to have no difficulty with assessing the appropriate degree of specificity. Whereas children's early speech normally exhibits excessive specificity, this was never observed in Genie's spontaneous utterances. Similarly, she never overgeneralized the meaning of words for individual objects, such as using the word ball to describe any round object. Even during her one-word phase of language acquisition, when Genie encountered an object or situation for which she did not know the word, instead of attempting to use something in her existing vocabulary she would instead seek to learn the correct word or phrase. At the same time, Curtiss noted that when Genie learned the word dog she used it as a generic term to describe any dog, but never used it to describe any other animal, indicating she understood how to use generic terms. In a review of Curtiss' dissertation, language psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow suggested this lack of overgeneralization may have been due to differences between the mind of a young child versus an adolescent as opposed to the properties of early language acquisition.
Furthermore, although Genie's two-word sentences showed many of the same syntactical properties as those of young children, she was much better at labeling and describing the properties of emotions and concrete objects, especially colors, sizes, and qualities. Two adjectives she used early on were "funny" and "silly", not words usually in the lexicon of children in the early phases of language learning, and most of her earliest two-word sentences modified nouns, such as "yellow balloon" and "lot bread". This strongly indicated a focus on physical characteristics to a degree not normally found in children acquiring a first language, who are typically better at describing relationships. Tests initially administered in October 1971 showed that while she did not use the plural forms of words, she clearly knew the difference between plural and singular forms and could understand numbers and quantitative descriptors such as "many" or "lots of". She only fully mastered and started using plurals in her speech after Curtiss devised a test involving more visual aspects, but even after full comprehension only occasionally used them while talking. At the 1972 American Psychological Association conference Fromkin said that by November 1971 Genie's speech was "strictly rule-governed", and indicated that Genie possessed grammar similar to that of a typical 18 to 20 month old.
During testing 
Thorough testing of Genie's linguistic abilities began in October 1971, when Curtiss and Fromkin decided her linguistic abilities were sufficient enough to yield results, and continued throughout her stay with the Riglers. Between these tests and others measuring various aspects of her social and psychological progress, the scientists speculated she may have been subjected to more tests than any other known child. When Curtiss first started testing Genie she found that although Genie did not resist taking the tests, she never initiated them and her participation was very minimal. She seemed only to do the absolute least amount required to complete any of the tests, which Curtiss later attributed to Genie simply being lazy, and as a result it was difficult to draw definitive conclusions from the earliest tests of Genie's progress. As Curtiss continued her testing Genie grew to largely enjoy being tested and became considerably more cooperative, though she would sometimes playfully give deliberately wrong answers, and would sometimes indicate to Curtiss that she wanted to take the tests.
From 1973 to 1975, Curtiss and Fromkin published the four earliest papers about Genie, writing with Stephen Krashen on one and with Krashen and the Riglers on the others; combined, these covered her progress from 1971 to early 1975. The first two indicated that she was learning to combine words to form new sentences and that her speech was increasingly rule-governed, while the others indicated that this trend had continued. Each of their papers noted specific instances of improvement from the time of the previous publications.
In their publications, the scientists anticipated the question of whether or not emotional factors affected Genie's ability to learn and produce language. Curtiss acknowledged that at the outset of Genie's language acquisition, her emotional profile may have been at least part of the reason Genie had been mostly taciturn. However, she and Fromkin argued that while Genie's childhood had obviously scarred her, it had not been traumatic and therefore could not have significantly impeded her ability to acquire language. Some later writers, such as Geoffrey Sampson, found this to be extremely implausible; however, Curtiss and Fromkin's assessment was widely accepted by many linguists, including Noam Chomsky and Derek Bickerton.
1971–1973: Early testing 
Beginning in 1972, Genie could form and use increasingly complex noun phrases in ways that were clearly not imitative; Before December 1971 she could only use one noun at a time, but in early 1972 when she was asked to describe a photograph she said "Curtiss, Genie, swimming pool". Around this time, she slowly began to use some determiners in her sentences, starting by imitating the definite article the. By late 1973 she began consistently including a in her noun phrases, although she did not show sign of distinguishing between definite and indefinite articles; by contrast, she did not use numbers or demonstratives in these early spontaneous noun phrases, and in 1977 Curtiss noted that Genie had still never used any demonstratives. In February 1972, the scientists observed her beginning to use negative sentences, all consisting of "No more"—which she had known even before people began attempting to teach her language—followed by either a noun or a noun and a verb, e.g. "No more take wax". Four months later, she began to use "No more" with only a verb, such as "No more have". By October 1973, she could correctly use no, not, and no more, and showed clear understanding of more complex forms of negation.
By July 1972 she had mastered the use of regular plurals, and was gaining the ability to use comparatives and some prepositions; scientists noted she could use next to, beside, behind, in, at, front, and after. Her first locative sentences were from this time, although they were always in either noun-noun or verb-noun form. At the same time, scientists observed the first longer verb phrases in Genie's speech, and after three months she began combining these verb phrases with similarly expanded noun phrases. She had also begun to use some regular past tense forms of verbs, correctly using the suffix -ed, though it would be considerably longer before she began utilizing the past tense of strong verbs—which use ablaut to indicate past tense—such as to give or to break. Researchers only observed her using the latter, either in imitation or spontaneous speech in 1974, and her spontaneous production of them remained limited. After another month, in August 1972, Genie could correctly use the word on—although at that point it was not completely clear if she understood the difference between on and in—and could use the suffix -ing to describe events in the present progressive. These were the first grammatical markers observed in her speech, and both are normally two of the first grammatical markers young children are able to use. In December 1972, after Curtiss and Genie had accidentally been locked out of the Riglers' home, Curtiss said to Genie, "Tell them [David and Marilyn Rigler] what happened"; Genie pointed to the door and said, "Tell door lock", indicating she had some degree of recursion in her grammar.
By late 1971, Genie's two-word sentences were almost always in either subject-verb or verb-object order, which they suggested meant Genie was grasping the subject–verb–object sentence structure typically used in English. She could follow other word-order rules as well, as evidenced in her verb-complement sentences. She had also begun using the genitive case in her early two-word sentences; in November 1971 many of her sentences were to indicate possession, such as "Marilyn bike", but she still relied entirely on word order to indicate possession. After around six months, in May 1972, she began to use the verb have in possessive sentences, i.e. "Miss Fromkin have blue car." By 1974 she began adding the possessive my to these sentences, and was able to correctly use the marker 's to indicate possession; she was never observed attaching the 's to the wrong word.
In 1972, she began to form imperative sentences using the vocative, which suggested not only progress in her language comprehension but an increasing level of self-confidence and self-concept. However, this view was tempered by the fact that despite her ability to use and comprehend imperatives, she very rarely would. Although she would respond if called she would almost never call someone to her and, despite repeated encouragement, she could not bring herself to tell a boy to stop annoying her at school. Researchers also noted she began using them much later than most, as imperatives are usually among the earliest types of sentences young children form. She also gradually began using language to describe fictional events, attempting on at least two occasions in the last two years of her stay with the Riglers to lie to Marilyn.
Genie clearly understood and appropriately acted on most questions using interrogative words by February 1972; unlike most children who grasp who, what, which, and where questions much earlier than when, how, or why, the only one which took longer for Genie understand was why, and even this took considerably less time than was expected. Researchers speculated this was because, while answers to these questions all contain the same grammatical structures, the latter group of questions require a higher degree of sophistication to properly answer. This helped to demonstrate that Genie's cognition was at a higher level than most children in that phase of language acquisition.
Despite this comprehension, she was completely unable to use them in her speech. In February 1973, Curtiss and Fromkin thought Genie might be more successful with forming them in writing and had her arrange cards with words written on them; after several attempts, Genie was able to form the question, "What is under the green box?". This proved to be an isolated instance; Curtiss did not note Genie replicating this success with the word cards at any other time, and Genie remained entirely unable to use one while talking. She would only attempt to form them if requested, and two of her typical efforts were "What red blue is in?" and "Where is tomorrow, Mrs. L?" For a long time, her verbal responses to these questions were similarly ungrammatical. Curtiss attempted to help Genie memorize a few grammatically correct interrogative questions, but even this did not work; for instance, in late May 1974 when Curtiss asked Genie to repeat "Where are the graham crackers?", Genie responded with "I where is graham cracker" or "I where is graham cracker on top shelf." This inability was extremely unusual for a first-language learner, as children typically learn to use interrogative questions as they begin understanding them and typically ask them in their earliest two-word sentences, and also contrasted with her ability to learn ritualized speech in other situations. Curtiss theorized Genie's difficulty with them was likely due to the linguistic movement they require, and in 1975 scientists speculated emotional difficulties may have played some role in her unwillingness to attempt forming them in spontaneous speech.
Genie's first negative sentences were utterances such as "No have toy," typical of young children, but while children usually quickly progress to saying "Not have toy" and then "Do not have toy" Genie did not reach the "Not have toy" stage for three years. The lack of movement in her speech was also evident in her negative sentences; although she quickly began to appropriately use no and not in her speech, until 1975 she could only use them at the beginning of a sentence, such as "Not good fish tank." Although Genie understood and could freely use intensifiers such as the word very, she only tenuously grasped superlatives. She never used them in her own speech, but when listening to others she appeared to understand the suffix -est better than the word most. The contrast between her understanding and lack of production of superlatives furthered the researchers' belief that, even in the absence of language, her cognitive structure had developed in some form.
Genie also seemed to view non-specific adjectives describing size, such as little, as absolute rather than relative values unless superlative or comparative markers were present. During a test using three different-sized objects, when asked to point to the "little" one she pointed to the medium-sized one, only pointing to the small one when Curtiss asked her to point to the "tiny" one. Similarly, when first asked to distinguish between all, some, and one, at first Genie would interpret some to mean all; by 1975, she had reversed this and began mistaking some for one instead, which Curtiss interpreted as a sign of progress.
Genie continued to have trouble with pronouns; by December 1972 she understood and used I, even pronouncing it with more stress for emphasis, but almost exclusively used it with either the word want or like. She interchangeably used you and me, and did not use any other pronouns. Curtiss said Genie would often say "Mama love you" while pointing to herself, attributing this to Genie's inability to distinguish who she was from who someone else was. By early 1975 she was beginning to differentiate between third-person pronouns such as he and she; however, despite grasping the concept of self, she only infrequently showed comprehension of to use any reflexive pronouns such as himself or herself, and was still unable to understand object pronouns such as him or her. Her pronoun acquisition was described at that time as "painfully slow," but researchers insisted there had been definite progress.
Until 1972, Genie responded to the conjunctions and and or as if they both meant and, but even after recognizing there was a difference never fully grasped the meaning of or. Although she evidently grasped some prepositions, others, such as behind and in front of, were less consistently understood; she frequently mistook both behind and in back of for in front of, though by 1977 her understanding of behind on tests had improved from 38.8% to 76.9%. Curtiss and Fromkin's second 1974 paper also noted that by March 1973 Genie seemed unable to grasp on or under, but suggested this was likely due at least partially to logistical difficulties with having to speak while simultaneously handling and moving objects into different positions to demonstrate her understanding, which she was not required to do in later preposition tests.
1974–mid-1975: Later testing 
By 1974, after almost four years of language acquisition, Genie's ability to understand and use vocabulary remained considerably ahead of her grammar. She was still unable to distinguish between the active and passive voice, and never gained any use of the latter. Her spontaneous utterances were frequently longer and more complex, but how much was grammar acquisition versus rote memory was not readily obvious. For instance, she could indicate desire by saying "I want" followed by what appeared to be a dependent clause; when she wanted Curtiss to play the piano, she could say, "I want Curtiss play piano". However, later analysis of Genie's speech noted that these dependent clauses could all have been utterances in and of themselves; none of them had any grammatical markers, such as that or to, to indicate dependence, causing speculation that Genie may have thought "I want" was simply a phrase she appended to the beginning of an otherwise unaltered utterance to express desire. Similarly, she could say the words "piece wood" in different contexts, but may have used them as a single word in her vocabulary as opposed to combining the two words to form a noun phrase. Curtiss noted that, despite Genie's right-hemisphere brain dominance and the use of her right hemisphere for language, she still did not use the parts of language which are typically either bilateral or originate in the right hemisphere.
By mid-1974, Genie was beginning to include indirect objects in her sentences, such as "Curtiss give me valentine". She was also beginning to use more determiners in her sentences, and although they were still largely used in imitation she would spontaneously use the word another. Although she understood complex negation by this time, she could only grasp certain types of complex sentences involving relative clauses. By early 1975 she clearly showed comprehension of sentences where the object was the relative clause, such as "The boy is looking at the girl who is frowning", or sentences where the subject was the relative clause and ended in something other than a noun phrase, such as "The boy who is frowning is looking at the girl". However, when interpreting a sentence in which a relative clause ending in a noun phrase came just before the main verb, such as "The boy who is looking at the girl is frowning", she always responded as if the noun closest to the verb (in this case, "the girl") was the subject. Scientists wrote this supported the hypothesis, which linguist and psychologist Thomas Bever first suggested in 1970, that children steadily improve comprehension of these sentences until approximately four years of language development; at that time, children undergo a period in which they always perceive the first noun as the subject and the second as the object. Although Bever proposed this would be more pronounced in children showing a right-ear preference—whereas Genie showed an extreme left-ear preference—the scientists argued that since Genie's brain had not undergone normal lateralization, as indicated by her lack of right-hemisphere or bilateral speech functions, her right hemisphere may have taken up the function causing this preference. Bever's hypothesis also argued that cerebral hemisphere dominance simultaneously occurred with the development of such perceptual strategies, which suggested that lateralization depended on input received by the brain; researchers thought Genie provided compelling evidence of this being the case.
Genie clearly understood the concept of temporality and sentences with before or after, and scientists noted that early on she could correctly respond to sentences such as "Touch your nose before your ear" or "After you touch your ear, touch your nose." However, by 1975 she remained unable to respond to sentences where the nouns were not in the same sequence as the events, such as "Touch your ear after you touch your nose." Furthermore, despite mastering word order Genie still had difficulty with distinguishing between simple actor–action–object sentences. In 1975, when given the sentences "The girl pulls the boy" or "The boy pulls the girl" and asked to point to the corresponding picture, her answers would either be all correct or all incorrect. While this was progress from the first times this test was administered in 1971 and 1972, when her answers were entirely guesses, this indicated that she was attempting to use some word order strategy but was unable to definitively ascertain a specific formula. Her difficulty with this also manifested itself in her inability to tell the difference between sentences such as "What is on the blue box?" and "What is the blue box on?"
Genie's speech had also remained entirely devoid of pro-forms or auxiliary verbs such as have or will, although by 1974 she could imitate the individual words to some degree. One of the tests consisted of six sets of three pictures, with each set containing a depiction of an action which had occurred, was occurring, or was about to occur. From October 1973, when researchers first conducted this test, to January 1974, Genie clearly understood past tense sentences, in which the verb indicated the tense; by contrast, when asked to identify a picture with the future tense, Genie was almost perfect if the question was phrased with going to, but showed no comprehension when Curtiss asked with the auxiliary verb will. This was in stark contrast to most children, who almost always correctly respond to both. By early 1975, she had started including do-support in some of her sentences; for instance, in June 1975 she said "I do not have a red pail". This was the only use of any auxiliary structure in her speech, but even this was often incorrectly used, as in sentences such as "I did not sad" (Curtiss said this had meant "I am not sad", and noted it was also from June 1975), and still frequently omitted. Similarly, it was not until 1975 that scientists noticed the first instances of her using copulas in her spontaneous sentences.
Conversational abilities 
Despite Genie's readily apparent desire for attention and socialization, she never learned to use automatic speech. When asked to speak, Genie could start and continue a conversation on a particular topic; however, even after her vocabulary had expanded, she continued to rely on repeating words or short phrases she had said earlier to maintain the discussion. What grammar rules and syntax she did know were not consistently applied; for instance, even after comprehending and using past tense, she did not normally utilize it in everyday conversations. In these situations, she would only use the correct past tense markers if separately, specifically asked whether she was referring to the past, present, or future. Because describing past events requires use of multiple tenses, what would ordinarily be very simple descriptions proved to be extremely difficult for her. Furthermore, whereas most children remain at the two-word sentence stage for around four to six weeks, Genie did not progress beyond that point for five months. Her comprehension of complex sentence structures remained inconsistent, although researchers noted slow noticeable improvement.
Speech progress 
When Genie first began speaking, her speech was very soft and completely monotonic. Her voice was extremely high-pitched—a trait which scientists had observed in earlier cases of feral children—and at first it was so high that it did not register on the instruments researchers used to acoustically analyze her speech. Similar to young children, most of her first words were monosyllabic and consisted of consonant-vowel-(consonant) sequences; the consonants were usually a labial or dental stop, and the vowels were monophthongs. But while most children's first disyllabic words also follow the consonant-vowel pattern, her first disyllabic words contained both consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant sequences. Over time, her voice gradually lowered in pitch and became somewhat louder, but her voice was still very high-pitched and her pronunciation was soft and breathy. Like most children she clearly understood different tones of voice, and over time her voice became slightly more varied. However, her voice remained mostly monotonic even after she began to speak in longer sentences; by contrast, most children learning a first language can use a wide variety of pitches and intonations even during their babbling phase of acquisition.
Genie's speech was marked by both consonant and vowel reduction, vowel neutralization, and reduction of many consonant clusters. When she used voiceless stops to start a word, they were aspirated or unaspirated seemingly at random; the one exception to this was that the stop in an s-stop consonant cluster was always unaspirated. For several months, in her syllabic structure she did not use the two affricates found in Standard American English as initial consonants, and inconsistently used them as final consonants. Her normal speech would frequently, but not always, exhibit final consonant deletion; the scientists speculated that, according to her grammar, the final consonant was optional. Researchers suspected the reason Genie did not usually use plural forms, possessive markers, and past tense or third person singular conjugations, despite her apparent ability to both comprehend and use all of them, was her frequent final consonant deletion. When the last sound was a nasal consonant, she would inconsistently pronounce it; if she did not pronounce the consonant she would either nasalize the preceding vowel or change the consonant to a non-nasal, but never both.
In November 1971, Curtiss was singing to Genie and was somewhat startled when she started singing along, displaying an ability to change pitch she had never demonstrated in her speech. Around a week later, Curtiss saw Genie was nervous about having to go to an appointment at Children's Hospital, and on the drive there Curtiss improvised a song with the word "hospital" in it to help calm Genie down; Curtiss was again taken by surprise when Genie again started singing along, and noticed she sang the word "hospital" far louder than she had ever spoken. Almost a year after moving in with the Riglers, while David Rigler was examining her ear, she uttered the only recorded scream of her lifetime.
Curtiss and Fromkin's later papers on Genie from this period noted that by 1973, she seemed to be slowly improving her articulation—although it remained far better in imitation than in her spontaneous utterances—and could mimic more sounds than she used in spontaneous speech. Their second 1974 paper specifically pointed to her lack of voiced or voiceless dental fricatives in her regular speech despite having begun to use them in imitation around June 1972. The dichotomy between her phonetic comprehension and production was also evident in her ability to accurately identify words which rhyme; she had demonstrated this capability while playing with Curtiss in non-test settings, and by 1975 tests confirmed that when asked to identify a rhyming word she had no difficulty selecting the correct answer. This suggesting that her difficulty was with realization as opposed to pronunciation. By early 1975 she was beginning to show clear stress patterns in her speech, modifying both pitch and amplitude for emphasis, but it was still clearly laborious for her.
In the later years of Genie's stay with the Riglers, when she started trying to form longer sentences, she would typically only enunciate a few of the sounds; for instance, "Monday Curtiss come" would sound more like "Munk". She would also frequently omit syntactical elements which, though necessary to be grammatical, would have been clear in context. Curtiss pointed to the utterance "Mike paint" as an example of this; when taken in isolation it could either mean Mike's paint or Mike paints, but Genie had said as it as Mike—the pseudonym for one of the Riglers' children—painted a cabinet. Curtiss attributed this to Genie trying to say the least she possibly could and still be understood, noting she would better articulate her speech when explicitly, firmly requested to. Upon observing this, linguists following the case began to call her the Great Abbreviator.
The scientists also wrote that Genie's speech was inhibited by physical difficulties. When she was first removed from captivity the muscles used to produce speech were severely atrophied. Most people learn to use their respiratory system to produce speech sounds as babies, at the same time they learn to control their breathing; however, because she had been forced to repress all vocalization from a very early age, her larynx and vocal tract had been extremely underused. This meant she had considerable difficulty with using her respiratory system to control air flow, and had very limited control of her vocal chords. This was at least part of the reason her voice was so quiet and devoid of intonation, and scientists wrote this was likely the reason her voice was so high-pitched.
Recalling past events 
Near Christmas 1971, Genie and Curtiss were on a visit to Children's Hospital when a boy playing with a toy pistol frightened Genie. When Curtiss tried to reassure her, Genie responded with an abbreviated version of Curtiss' words, saying "Little bad boy. Bad gun." About two weeks later, Curtiss overheard Genie repeating the same words to herself, marking the first time she used language to refer to something in the past. Some months later, the Riglers overheard her saying "Father hit big stick. Father is angry." to herself, demonstrating she could even talk about her life before learning language; this gave researchers new insights into her life before being rescued and disproved the theory of 18th century philosopher Étienne Bonnot de Condillac that humans require language to form memories. During the rest of her stay with the Riglers, they said she would constantly repeat "Father hit" to herself. Eventually, Genie could provide progressively longer, more detailed memories of her past. The Riglers tried to get her to talk about her childhood as much as possible, both to get more information and to help provide her the best possible therapy. Sometimes, Marilyn would coach Genie by role-playing as Genie's real mother. Before the Riglers worked with Genie to understand the concept of death she would often ask them where her father was, afraid that he would come to get her. She gradually began to speak about her father, and could talk about his treatment of her.
"Father hit arm. Big wood. Genie cry...Not spit. Father. Hit face – spit. Father hit big stick. Father is angry. Father hit Genie big stick. Father take piece wood hit. Cry. Father make me cry. Father is dead."
Non-verbal communication 
Even while speaking, Genie continued to use supplementary nonverbal gestures to improve her intelligibility. With some words, she would pantomime them as she spoke; for instance, the scientists noted she would get into a seated position when she said the words "sit" or "sick". Although this is normal to a degree among children learning a first language, she seemed to use them as an integral part of her vocabulary. As Genie had considerable difficulty with switching between tenses in her speech, which describing past occurrences requires, Curtiss said she would also act out events; when she was not understood right away she would persist until her message was communicated. When she was first removed from confinement she would only draw pictures if asked, but during her stay with the Riglers she began to use drawings if she could not express herself in words. In addition to her own drawings, she would frequently use pictures from magazines to relate to daily experiences. She especially collected pictures of things that frightened her; Curtiss recalled one incident when a helmeted diver scared Genie, after which she did not relax until she showed Curtiss a picture she had found of a similar looking diver in a National Geographic issue. Several months into Genie's stay with the Riglers, she found a picture of a wolf in a magazine which sent her into a terror. When the Riglers saw her reaction, they asked Genie's mother if she knew of something that might have caused it; it was then that she told them about how her husband had acted like a dog to intimidate Genie and keep her quiet, which was the first time the underlying reason for her fear became apparent to the scientists.
The Riglers and Curtiss saw how frequently and effectively Genie used her nonverbal skills, with Curtiss noting in particular how quickly Genie could organize very complex stories in her drawings. She still seemed to be able to connect with complete strangers without speaking; David Rigler vividly remembered an occasion when he and Genie passed a father and a young boy carrying a toy firetruck without speaking to each other, and said the boy suddenly turned around and gave the firetruck to Genie. Although the scientists tried to get her to talk as much as possible, they knew one of the major flaws with Jean Marc Gaspard Itard's work with Victor of Aveyron was his insistence that Victor learn one method of communication—in his case writing—to the exclusion of others. They wanted to take full advantage of her ability to use gestures, so in 1974 the Riglers arranged for her to learn American Sign Language.
Loss of funding and research interest 
Despite Genie's progress, after three years the National Institute of Mental Health, which had been funding the research, grew concerned about the lack of scientific data generated and the disorganized state of project records. A huge amount of data was being collected, but apart from the linguistics data Curtiss and Fromkin produced much of it was of very limited use. In 1973 Rigler asked for and received a one year extension on the grant, but the NIMH said it wanted more hard data and more coherent categorization of the researchers' work. Rigler said he and the other scientists tried to comply, but found the case was not conducive to producing the raw statistics requested of him; he argued the NIMH did not fully understand the nature of Genie's case, and pointed out that in the only study which could be looked to for comparison, that of Victor of Aveyron, there had been similar difficulties in producing hard scientific evidence of anything besides his progress with language.
When the year-long extension neared its end Jean Butler Ruch, who had continually attacked the scientists since her application to become Genie's foster parent was rejected, obtained David Rigler's proposal for an additional three-year extension—which, due to a processing mistake, she managed to do before Rigler presented it to the NIMH—and began lobbying for its rejection, disputing the progress Genie had made with Curtiss and the Riglers. Among Ruch's accusations was that Rigler had intentionally added more people to the initial grant request than were ever actually involved in the case; when Rigler reviewed it, he reportedly found one psychologist included in the application whose name he did not remember, but said this was merely an unintentional oversight on his part. When the NIMH's grants committee met to consider Rigler's proposal they concluded that, although the research was considerably and demonstrably beneficial to Genie and would not cause active harm to her, there had been minimal overall progress and "the research goals projected probably will not be realized". Funding for the study was cut off and the following year the Riglers—who had been compensated by the grant money while caring for Genie and indicated in the proposal that they would need continued compensation to sustain their guardianship—decided to end their foster parenting. Despite the grant ending, Curtiss continued to spend time with Genie, and in 1977 she and Fromkin obtained year-long grants from the National Science Foundation to continue their work.
Now 18, Genie still spoke only in phrases such as "Ball belong hospital". Her progress remained considerably slower than had initially been expected, and she never displayed the rapid grammar and syntax acquisition seen in most children after the two-word-sentence stage. Her comprehension, however, was well ahead of her speech—a similar dichotomy, albeit usually not quite as wide as hers, is typically found in young children—and she would occasionally produce longer sentences if her initial utterance was misunderstood. Evaluation was further complicated by Genie's psychological and emotional difficulties. In particular, scientists noted the negative associations with vocalizing from her childhood would have had a profound effect on her speech, making it very difficult to properly assess.
Early adulthood 
In 1975, Genie turned 18 and her mother wished to care for her, so Genie moved back in with her mother at her childhood home. Before Genie left the Riglers, they offered to assist her mother in any way they could. They signed Genie up for a summer school program, but when it ended she expressed a desire to stay at home with her mother instead of going to a summer day camp, to which her mother and the Riglers acquiesced. After a few months, Genie's mother found that taking care of Genie was both physically and financially too difficult for her to manage, and without notifying the scientists contacted the California Department of Health to find care for Genie. Genie was then transferred to the first of a succession of six foster homes, where she ended up staying for a year and a half.
When Genie first moved into her new foster home, social workers observed that the house was an extremely rigid environment, in particular noting that Genie was never allowed to play with the plastic containers she had brought with her. During her stay there, Genie experienced a severe regression because of her treatment. She again began experiencing issues with both incontinence and constipation, and quickly returned to her coping mechanism of silence. Not long after she moved in, she was beaten for vomiting and told that if she did it again she would never be allowed to see her mother, causing her to become extremely afraid of opening her mouth for fear of vomiting and facing more punishment. Even when she was hungry she could barely eat, only opening her mouth just long enough to put food in; it was later described as looking similar to a crocodile eating. Her fear also made her afraid to speak, rendering her almost completely silent; however, she still wanted to communicate with people she knew, so she began almost exclusively using the sign language she had learned while with the Riglers. Her mother, who she desperately missed, was almost never permitted to visit her, causing Genie to become extremely withdrawn. At one point while she was living there, she refused to talk for five months.
Except for Curtiss, all of the scientists, including the Riglers and James Kent, were completely cut off from Genie during her stay in this foster home. Curtiss continued to meet with Genie once a week to continue her research, witnessed some of the abuse Genie received, and saw her rapid behavioral regression. On several occasions Genie told Curtiss she wanted to see her mother and wanted to move back in with the Riglers. Early on during her stay, when Curtiss first heard this, she started petitioning to have Genie removed. Curtiss said because she was only a graduate student, it took a long time to get authorities to take her seriously. Once she got in contact with the department of social services, both they and Curtiss had a very difficult time finding and contacting John Miner, who was still her legal guardian, only succeeding after repeated attempts over several months. Once they got his attention, he went to see Genie at a party; when he saw how badly she had regressed, especially how withdrawn she was and how laborious eating had become for her because of her fear of opening her mouth, he worked with David Rigler to get her taken out of the home. Upon leaving in January 1977, owing to the previous treatment, she required a two-week stay at Children's Hospital. She saw her mother and the Riglers during this time, and her condition moderately improved. In some of the subsequent homes she was physically abused and harassed, and her development further regressed. She was often forbidden from seeing her mother for long periods of time in these homes, and except for Curtiss was completely cut off from most of the scientists. Throughout 1977 Genie frequently drew pictures to express her desire to see her mother, and told Curtiss she missed her mother; many of these utterances and drawings were included in Curtiss' dissertation.
In 1977, Curtiss finished her dissertation, Genie: A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day "Wild Child", and it was published later that same year by Academic Press; it received reviews from several prominent scientists. When Genie's mother saw a copy after its publication, despite having thought of Curtiss and Genie as friends, she reportedly took great offense at the title and some of the contents. Privately she disputed some specific details, primarily regarding her husband's treatment of herself and Genie and the family's situation during Genie's captivity; however, her official complaint did not. Instead, she argued that Curtiss could only have obtained these details from her therapists or their supervisors, which would have been a breach of patient confidentiality. Genie's mother decided to sue Children's Hospital, her therapists, their supervisors, and several of the researchers both over the book and over allegations of excessive and outrageous testing, claiming the researchers gave testing priority over Genie's welfare, invaded Genie's privacy by constantly filming her, and pushed Genie far beyond the limits of her endurance, sometimes testing her between 60 and 70 hours per week.
The lawsuit was immediately picked up by the media, and garnered several prominent articles in the Los Angeles Times. Members of the Genie team, most of whom had not heard about Genie in years, were caught completely by surprise when they found out they were being sued. David Rigler initially thought the focus of the suit would be Shurley's sleep-studies, as these were the most invasive tests conducted, but quickly found out Shurley had offered to testify against several of the other scientists. All of the researchers named in the lawsuit maintained their earlier contentions that Genie mostly found the testing enjoyable, emphasizing that the tests were always conducted in private, one on one settings and that both she and the people testing her viewed the tests as bonding experiences. Both Curtiss and David Rigler said at the end of the tests, Genie was always rewarded in either an emotional or material way. Rigler said the scientists all knew forcing her into taking the tests would have invalidated the results, and pointed out that although the tests were challenging for Genie, she always exhibited a sense of triumph upon finishing. All of the scientists, especially Rigler and Curtiss, were adamant that Genie's mother grossly exaggerated the lengths of time Genie was being tested. Curtiss emphatically said she never had test sessions more than 45 minutes, that Genie could take a break whenever she wanted, and said that sometimes Genie herself would initiate the tests. After conducting the tests, Curtiss said they would spend the rest of their time together "just being friends". Rigler argued that if researchers had not done as much testing as they did, they would not have been satisfying the purpose of the grant.
The scientists responded, in addition to the allegations of overworking Genie, to the concerns Genie's mother expressed about her and Genie's privacy. Rigler maintained several times that Genie never showed any signs that she had a problem with being filmed, later pointing out that Genie would frequently start the cameras on her own, and said if she had indicated she was bothered they would have immediately stopped. Curtiss and Fromkin categorically denied any breach of confidentiality, asserting that the details on Genie's family in Curtiss' dissertation were already publicly available and that Hansen had previously referred to them without objection at the 1972 American Psychological Association Conference. Curtiss pointed out that she and all of the other scientists had, in the interests of privacy for Genie and her relatives, gone to considerable lengths to keep all of their identities concealed in their publications; in her dissertation, Curtiss did not use the names of Genie's family members or their friends. When news of the pending legal proceedings reached the newspapers, Curtiss said she and all of the other scientists were extremely upset that several of the stories referred to Genie and her mother by their real names.
Given Genie's mother's otherwise passive nature, the scientists being sued strongly suspected from the beginning that she was not the driving force behind the lawsuit. While David Rigler was giving his deposition, he discovered that Jean Butler Ruch had goaded her into suing and had, without them knowing, gradually turned her against the scientists. Rigler later wrote that although Genie's mother filed the suit, Ruch got the lawyers for her and provided all the necessary funding. Throughout the legal proceedings, the lawyers representing Genie's mother said Ruch was constantly trying to influence her. They agreed with the scientists that Genie's mother almost certainly would never have attempted to sue without Ruch's intervention, saying Ruch had convinced her Curtiss' dissertation invaded her privacy. One of the lawyers said in an interview that Ruch "was a sort of Svengali for [Genie's mother]", and both said talking with Genie's mother after she had been speaking to Ruch was like talking to an entirely different person.
At the outset, the lawyers for Genie's mother agreed with Ruch and thought there were serious problems with the scientists' testing, indicating they thought it would be possible judgment against them. The lawyers said that although the research on Genie was almost certainly started out of goodwill, they thought the scientists had gotten caught up in the publicity of the case. They pointed to the NIMH's rationale in their decision not to extend the grant, arguing this should have been a sign of flaws in the scientists' research methods, and further argued that many of the tests were given so often that they only indicated her familiarity with them and yielded no useful data. However, as the lawsuit went forward, the lawyers for Genie's mother increasingly felt their case was extremely tenuous at best. When they found Curtiss had already set up a trust fund in Genie's name and that her intention from the start had been to give all the royalties from her dissertation to Genie, they advised Genie's mother to take this money—a little over eight thousand dollars—and withdraw the lawsuit. However, Ruch convinced Genie's mother to persist and both of her lawyers withdrew from the case, leaving her to represent herself in court. According to ABC News and Russ Rymer, the suit was settled in 1984. However, in a 1993 letter to The New York Times responding to a review of Rymer's book, David Rigler wrote, "[T]he case never came to trial. It was dismissed by the Superior Court of the State of California 'with prejudice,' meaning that because it was without substance it can never again be refiled."
After the conclusion of the legal proceedings, despite several requests from David Rigler, Genie's mother refused to allow him or other members of the Genie team to see her. Susan Curtiss had been entirely prevented from seeing Genie in January 1978, and Genie's mother did not reestablish contact with her. With the exception of Jay Shurley she broke off all contact with the scientists, and moved in 1987 without leaving a forwarding address. Genie's mother began taking Genie with her on her visits to Ruch's house, but despite being allowed to see Genie Ruch did not cease her attacks on the scientists. She started spreading negative rumors about Genie's condition, hoping to convince as many people as possible that Curtiss' dissertation had largely been based on fabrications. Although she continued attacking many of the scientists she especially targeted Curtiss, who had become a linguistics professor at UCLA, repeatedly calling her at her house and frequently attending Curtiss' lectures to bombard her with hostile questions.
While the lawsuit was being filed Ruch had convinced Shurley, who had remained friendly with Genie's mother and Ruch, to work with her on a book detailing how the scientists had handled Genie; Shurley was self-described as "bent on revelation". In 1984, Ruch received further encouragement from a colleague of Eric Lenneberg who had been marginally involved in the May 1971 NIMH grant. However, after Shurley co-wrote one paper with Ruch on the subject in 1985, he backed out after they delivered the paper together at a conference, saying he was shocked at how vicious and personal her attacks on the Genie team were. Although he remained very cynical about many aspects of Genie's handling, he was willing to acknowledge that the scientists were in a completely unprecedented situation and thought Ruch's attacks were so malicious as to be sadistic. His decision to abandon the project earned the enmity of Ruch, who continued her campaign against the scientists until 1986, when a stroke left her with aphasia. She died in 1988 following another stroke. In the late 1980s, Genie's mother was meeting with Shurley when an unidentified major news network offered her ten thousand dollars to tell her and Genie's story. Despite the fact that she was living in abject poverty at the time, Shurley said she immediately turned the request down; he commended the decision, and said he thought it demonstrated that Genie's mother had learned to stand up for herself.
Shurley saw Genie at her 27th birthday party and again two years later, and she reportedly looked as if she had regressed. In an interview he said on both visits she appeared very depressed, commenting that she looked almost as if she was demented. When Russ Rymer interviewed Shurley for his book on Genie, Shurley showed him two photographs he had taken of her from these visits; Rymer wrote that it took him several seconds to realize the person in the photos was Genie, and he only recognized her at all because her dresses had a familiar pattern. He described Genie in the first of these two pictures as having "a facial expression of cowlike incomprehension", and saw Shurley had written on the back that Genie was very stooped over and made very little eye contact. In 1992 Susan Curtiss said that since she had last seen Genie she only had two updates on her condition, both of which indicated she barely spoke and was depressed and withdrawn. When Rymer published his book on Genie in February 1993, he wrote she was living in a large state institution for mentally retarded adults, and said she only saw her mother one weekend every month. In the afterword of the 1994 edition of his book, he detailed a conversation he had with Genie's mother not long before the book's publication; at that time, she indicated to him that Genie was more regularly able to visit and—though her speech was not easy to understand—was reportedly more verbal.
By mid-1993, the Riglers had reestablished contact with Genie's mother and had seen Genie for the first time in 15 years; David Rigler wrote in July 1993 that, "my wife and I have resumed our (now infrequent) visits with Genie and her mother." In response to a review of Rymer's book, which repeated what Rymer had originally said about Genie's living arrangements and further alleged Genie was being inadequately cared for and isolated from everyone she knew, Rigler wrote that Genie was living in a small, private board and care facility and that her mother regularly visited; he did not say how long Genie had been there. His letter did not indicate exactly how and when he and Marilyn got back in touch with Genie's mother, only that she had invited them to come with her on one of her visits with Genie. When the Riglers visited Genie for the first time, David Rigler said she seemed to be happier and had immediately recognized and greeted him and Marilyn by name, but did not comment further on her mental state.
The extent of Genie's linguistic abilities has been the subject of some debate. Curtiss' earlier writings, up to and including her 1977 dissertation, appear very optimistic. As early as 1972, she indicated that although Genie was progressing more slowly than most young children acquiring language, there was strong evidence she was very gradually incorporating more basic grammar into her speech and that she was building on those skills she already possessed. In her dissertation, she argued that Genie's "language performance often does not reflect her underlying linguistic ability"; although she rarely used grammatical rules such as pluralization, it was clear that she understood and had the ability to use them.
The first papers Curtiss wrote on the subject after her dissertation noted a severe regression in Genie's speech from the trauma she suffered after entering her first foster home in 1975, but she argued that her speech had been "grammatically uninflected and telegraphic" even prior to this time, claiming several of Genie's utterances were completely incomprehensible (in subsequent papers, the word telegraphic was replaced in favor of agrammatic). One of Curtiss' writings from 1982 and her second 1988 paper on Genie acknowledged that she clearly understood word order, could appropriately use most verbs within their constraints (for instance, she had said "Genie throw ball" but never "Genie throw"), showed some signs of feature specification, and could accurately use what bound morphemes she knew. However, Curtiss' post-1977 papers all had more negative evaluations of Genie's speech, arguing that while Genie's vocabulary had broadened, she had never acquired any meaningful amount of grammar or syntax after all. In an interview with Russ Rymer in 1992 she said Genie's progress had very quickly plateaued and it took her several years to realize it, and in a 1993 interview with Nova Curtiss said that while Genie could often communicate a message, she did not speak in real sentences; she cited two of Genie's utterances as examples, "Spot chew glove" and "Applesauce buy store". An independent 2006 review of Genie's case concluded that Curtiss' dissertation had been excessively optimistic about both Genie's progress and prognosis; it pointed out that even by the time it was completed, Genie was showing clear signs of regression from her treatment in her first foster home after living with her mother.
However, a 1995 analysis in a paper by Peter Jones, a linguistics professor at Sheffield Hallam University, argued that earlier accounts of Genie's speech, especially of her progress during the period between 1970 and 1975, from both Curtiss' dissertation and her collaborations with Victoria Fromkin were more accurate than those produced after 1977. This analysis argued that Curtiss used only small samples of Genie's speech to prove her points, when a more representative look at her speech appeared to contradict Curtiss' arguments. For instance, whereas Curtiss pointed to 13 of Genie's utterances in 1979 to demonstrate Genie's lack of syntax acquisition, Jones argued these were mostly undated and that Curtiss did nothing to show these were demonstrative of Genie's spontaneous speech. Jones also examined a selection of Genie's utterances that Curtiss used in her later papers, especially her second 1988 paper, to demonstrate a lack of any hierarchical depth, arguing that while they were not representative of a typical adult speaker they did indicate a hierarchic structure to at least some degree. He especially highlighted one utterance, "Teacher say Genie have temper tantrum outside", as clearly contradicting Curtiss' claim.
While Jones acknowledged Genie's regression after mid-1975, he argued that Curtiss did not release enough information about Genie's speech between 1975 and 1977 and that there was no data from any time after January 1978, rendering it impossible to draw definitive conclusions regarding how far she regressed and what, if any, grammatical and syntactical skills she had lost. Finally, Jones argued that despite what Curtiss said to Rymer and in her interview for Nova she wrote nothing to this effect in her dissertation, and neither suggested she was reevaluating her earlier arguments nor attempted to disavow the conclusions of her previous works in any of her later writings. He especially emphasized that in her interview with Rymer she supplied no evidence to back up her statement, and pointed out that the two utterances she referred to in the Nova documentary were from early December 1971 and April 1972 respectively, less than a year and a half after Genie began language acquisition and therefore not representative of how far Genie was able to progress. These factors, Jones concluded, demonstrated that "the post-(1977) account [of Genie's speech] is not so much based on reanalysis or reinterpretation of the data but on a highly selective and misleading misrepresentation of the earlier findings."[emphasis as in the original] This, in turn, left an unresolved tension between Curtiss' pre- and post-1977 analyses which he said meant "a definitive judgment on the character and extent of Genie's linguistic development still cannot be given." These arguments have since been cited by others discussing Genie's case. To this point, neither Curtiss nor anyone else directly associated with Genie's case has responded to Jones' paper.
Genie's is one of the best-known cases of language acquisition in a child with delayed development. Since Curtiss published her findings, the vast majority of linguistic books have used Genie as a case study, frequently citing it as proof of Chomsky's theory of innate language and a modified version of Lenneberg's theory. In her writings, Curtiss argued for a weaker version of the critical period theory; that normal language acquisition cannot occur beyond puberty. She wrote that despite the innate ability of humans to acquire language, Genie demonstrated the necessity of early language stimulation to start, drawing a comparison to a baby who upon being born does not breathe until stimulated by a midwife. Furthermore, she stated that only language, not any other cognitive stimulation, could provide the necessary spark. Without the required stimulation, a person would be rendered incapable of processing language from the left hemisphere of the brain and would be forced to only use the right hemisphere, which is typically only used to process non-speech sounds. This did not mean the person would never be capable of producing any language, but that language would never progress into normal-sounding speech. Her arguments have become widely accepted in the field of linguistics, and were the impetus for several additional studies.
In particular, analysis of the data collected from Genie showed a sharp contrast between a linguistic and grammatical component in language. Although Genie acquired vocabulary well above the level of her estimated mental age, she never mastered phonology or a substantial amount of grammar. It was already known that adults who underwent a left hemispherectomy were better at regaining and maintaining vocabulary than grammar and syntax, similar to Genie; both the observations by Curtiss and the tests conducted on Genie's brain further bolstered the theory that the two processes underwent separate development. Scientists also noted the syntactical skills Genie acquired and used bore striking resemblance to two other common forms of communication; the grammar and syntax of pidgin languages, and the gesture systems deaf children invent when isolated from other deaf people. While both of these contain certain aspects of language, such as vocabulary, recursion, and word order, other grammatical components such as auxiliary structures are never present. The auxiliary component of language had been known to be one of the few acquired at different rates by children depending on the amount of language they heard. Genie's inability to master these structures supported the idea that the development of auxiliary and other similar syntactical systems is more sensitive than vocabulary, requiring a more conducive language environment to properly develop with a more specific critical period. This also suggested there was a separation of cognition and language rules, a new concept at the time. Genie's spatial and nonverbal skills were exceptionally good, which demonstrated that even nonverbal communication was fundamentally separate from actual language.
Genie's case has also been used in theorizing about whether the critical period hypothesis can be applied to the acquisition of a second language, a topic which remains the subject of considerable debate.
Related studies 
Jeni Yamada, a graduate student who assisted Curtiss with compiling data about Genie and with advocating for her welfare after she left the Riglers, began a study in the late 1970s of a girl with linguistic problems that were the opposite of Genie's. This subject, at first referred to by the pseudonym Marta and later by her real first name, Laura, was raised by loving parents and neither had any history of abuse nor any serious injuries; however, she was very developmentally delayed and on Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children tests was found to have a testable IQ between 41 and 48. She also displayed extreme difficulty with spatial awareness, almost completely unable to copy even simple lines on paper. After several inaccurate childhood diagnoses, doctors described her as "borderline psychotic" and, when she was 16, diagnosed her with mental retardation and schizophrenia, attributing her abnormal behavior primarily to her retardation.
By at least the time she was nine years old, Laura spoke with perfect syntax and was able to form complex sentences. In her teens she could ask questions such as, "Did you hear about me not going to this school?", and was able to form complicated passive sentences such as, "I got it [my hair] cut already by a maid"; both require a high degree of syntactical sophistication, and are normally acquired late during the language learning process. However, Laura's words frequently conveyed no meaningful information; Yamada compared Laura's speech to the game Mad Libs, as Laura would temporarily latch onto seemingly random words and use them to form a grammatically correct sentence. One day when she had become fascinated with the word after she said, "My uncle who used aftershave died after a heart attack after tennis" even though she was fully aware that her uncle was alive and never played tennis, and many of her other sentences, such as, "She was thinking that it was no regular school, it's just plain old no buses", were completely grammatically correct but obviously nonsensical.
Curtiss and Yamada noted that, whereas Genie had learned to count very early during her language acquisition, Laura encountered extreme difficulty with counting; many attempts at using numbers in her speech resulted in sentences such as "I was 16 last year and now I'm 19 this year". She eventually learned to list off individual numbers in order into the teens, but despite repeated efforts to teach her she was typically unable to accurately count as few as three to four objects. In stark contrast to Genie, who often conveyed her emotions without speaking, Laura could talk about her feelings but showed very few outward signs of emotional attachment to anyone or anything. Even for those who knew her, it was often very difficult to get a read on her mood; Yamada remembered Laura saying that she was sad after John Lennon was killed, but noticed Laura's demeanor did not match her words at all. Taken together, these studies helped to confirm ideas first suggested after studying Genie alone: that language and cognition are controlled by different processes, and that there is a fundamental difference between understanding and producing language.
In the 1980s, Curtiss studied an adult in her mid-30s who, despite having average intelligence and no history of physical or emotional trauma, had not yet acquired a language. This subject, known by the pseudonym Chelsea, was born with a severe hearing impairment that was not treated until she was 32, preventing her from learning language through listening. Her parents had raised her in a caring environment, and when Chelsea was very young her mother had realized Chelsea was almost completely deaf; however, doctors had erroneously attributed her inability to learn to speak to mental retardation, keeping her from attending schools for deaf children. Because her parents could not afford to hire a private tutor, and because she came from a very rural, isolated town in northern California with no exposure to other deaf people, she did not have the opportunity to study sign language. It was not until she was 32 years old that she saw a doctor who recognized her hearing impairment; at that age she was given bilateral hearing aids which elevated her hearing to a normal range, after which she underwent over a decade of intensive language and sign language instruction.
Chelsea learned to use prepositions and determiners more successfully than Genie, eventually using them in spontaneous speech without any difficulty, and acquired vocabulary and the ability to count similar to the way Genie had. However, apart from learning the present progressive suffix -ing Chelsea never mastered even basic syntactical skills such as word order and recursion, both of which Genie had learned within two years, frequently rendering her speech almost entirely incomprehensible; even after several years of studying language, her utterances resembled those of patients with very severe expressive aphasia. Two fairly typical examples of her sentences were "They are is car in the Tim" and "I Wanda be drive come". Researchers noted that Chelsea had a very friendly personality, but unlike Genie possessed adequate social skills to function in most everyday situations; the one exception was when she did not understand something, after which she would usually simply repeat what was said to her, but researchers primarily attributed this to her lack of vocabulary. By the 1990s, Chelsea was even able to hold down a job as a part-time veterinary assistant. When researchers examined Chelsea's brain they found her right hemisphere was dominant to the same degree Genie's had been even though, like Genie, Chelsea's entire brain was physically intact. Chelsea's case lent further credence to Curtiss' conclusions about age and language acquisition, and led to the theory of a "sensitive period" in linguistic development. During this period, it was not possible to acquire more sensitive structures of language, but basic grammar could be learned.
After the Fritzl case came to light in February 2008, ABC News ran two stories, almost two weeks apart in early May of that year, comparing the Fritzl case to Genie's. Their stories noted many of the similarities between Genie's father's abuse of his family and Josef Fritzl's imprisonment of his daughter and three of his grandchildren, and said the grandchildren Fritzl held captive displayed many of the physical and mental problems Genie had when she was found. The first article reported that someone, speaking under condition of anonymity, had hired a private investigator who was able to locate Genie in 2000. She was reportedly living in a small private facility for mentally underdeveloped adults, and appeared to be happy. Although she only spoke a few words, she could still communicate fairly well in sign language. Their first story also noted that David Rigler was reportedly in declining health and that, despite badly missing Genie and repeatedly attempting to find her, Susan Curtiss had not seen Genie since January 1978. In addition to interviews with James Kent—who also had not seen Genie since early 1978—and Curtiss, the first story featured an interview with a British special education graduate student who was doing her dissertation on Genie's case and had established a rapport with most of the people central to it. The second story contained an interview with the police officer who arrested Genie's parents, who said he vividly remembered the case and described the conditions he found inside their house.
Genie's brother was also interviewed for both stories, which was the first time he had publicly spoken about his or Genie's life. In the interviews, he spoke about the abuse he saw his father inflict on Genie and about how their father forced him to keep silent, discussing in detail how his father mistreated him. He said he had not seen Genie since 1982 and had only recently heard any updates on her condition, though he was glad she had gotten so much attention and that she was reportedly happy where she was living. When talking about his parents, he said it was only later in his life that he came to fully understand how badly they had treated him and his sister; he said that when he left home, he realized he was completely unprepared to deal with living on his own. At the time of the interview, he had reportedly only just found out their mother had died of natural causes in 2003. In addition, he also talked about his life after escaping his parents' home; he said after briefly living with his grandparents he spent several years drifting around the country and combating alcohol abuse before eventually settling down as a house painter in Ohio, and mentioned he was divorced and had a daughter and two grandchildren who lived nearby but with whom he had mostly lost contact. He did not say in either story whether his daughter or grandchildren had ever visited or attempted to see Genie or their mother, nor did he mention whether his ex-wife ever met either of them during their marriage. Finally, he indicated he was still struggling to cope with the trauma of his and Genie's upbringing and blocked it out of his memory as much as possible, though he kept a small collection of photographs from his early childhood.
Russ Rymer 
Russ Rymer wrote a two-part magazine article in The New Yorker entitled Genie: A Silent Childhood which ran in mid-April 1992, and the next year published a book—his first—called Genie: A Scientific Tragedy. The works cover Genie's life up until the time of publication, as well as the scientific team who studied her; the book also summarizes the life of Victor of Aveyron and Jean Marc Gaspard Itard's work with him, and compares Victor and Genie and their respective handling by researchers. With the exception of Curtiss, who he acknowledges was working primarily out of compassion, Rymer posits that the other scientists pursued the study chiefly for the advancement of their own careers and egos, constantly fighting for control over the direction of the study and credit for the work and research being done.
For the writings, Rymer interviewed many of the scientists central to the case study, including Curtiss, James Kent, Howard Hansen, the Riglers, and Jay Shurley, as well as John Miner, Ursula Bellugi, and other scientists who were more peripherally involved. At the suggestion of David Rigler, Rymer interviewed the lawyers who had represented Genie's mother when she attempted to sue the scientists. To give further insight into the functioning of Genie's brain, he also spoke with psychologist and neuroscientist Helen Neville. At the time Genie became widely known Neville was a graduate student under Eric Lenneberg, though she was never involved in Genie's case, and at the time of Rymer's interview was conducting a study on linguistic development in monolingual children. For the magazine articles, Rymer had not spoken to Genie's mother, and at the time did not say whether or not he had tried to find her. In the afterword to the 1994 edition of his book, Rymer said the scientists' conflicting views on the case had spurred him to talk to Genie's mother for the book. He wrote she was very difficult to find and that when he first contacted her—he did not say exactly when this was—she did not want to speak to him, which he said was a major setback for his work on the book. When he tried contacting her again, around year and a half later, he said his intention was simply to tell her the book was not far away from publication, and was surprised when she asked him to visit her; upon meeting in person, they quickly established a friendship with each other. Rymer wrote she was still living in southern California and had again gone blind, this time from glaucoma.
After Rymer met and befriended Genie's mother, he considered asking her to bring him on a visit with Genie; after some consideration, he decided not to. He said he felt this would have been an unwarranted intrusion into her life, and he did not want to exploit her. While he acknowledged that meeting her in person would have been personally satisfying, it would have negatively affected his overall portrayal of Genie herself as well as the various aspects of her case; he wrote that if he had met Genie, he would not have been able to write the book from an entirely third-person perspective because readers would have wanted to know the details of his meeting with her. He did not speak to Genie's brother, and did not indicate in the magazine articles or the book whether he had attempted, or considered attempting, to contact or locate him.
Rymer was also given access to the collection of videos and documents pertaining to the case, as well as Jean Butler Ruch's personal journal and some correspondence between Genie's mother and her lawyers; the book features extensive quotes from several of these sources. Although Rymer documented the case almost entirely from the scientists' perspectives, Genie's mother provided him with many of these documents, which he said had been vital for getting enough material to finish his book. Rymer wrote in the book that many of the scientists on the Genie team only very reluctantly spoke about the case, especially noting how tense David Rigler seemed when being interviewed. He further claimed they had mostly lost contact with one another In November 1993, Rymer wrote an afterword for the 1994 edition of his book in which he said there had been a rift between many of the scientists. He further said his interviews had caused some of the scientists to start speaking with each other again; he specifically claimed that he had at least some role in reopening communication between the Riglers and Genie's mother, which none of them ever confirmed or denied. In a 2008 interview Rymer said he was still scarred from covering the case, and maintained his original claims that the scientists were deeply divided amongst themselves, saying this had made the book extremely difficult to put together.
Rymer's New Yorker magazine articles were met with good reviews. The book was one of five finalists for the 1993 National Book Critics Circle Awards, in the category of general non-fiction. Upon its publication, it received several prominent reviews. Among them were an overall positive reception in the Los Angeles Times from author Nancy Mairs and in the New York Times from scientific reporter Natalie Angier; Angier, whose review was published in late April 1993, said she had previously read the magazine articles, and took an extremely negative view of the scientists.
Angier's review garnered very harsh criticism from Susan Curtiss and James Kent, who strongly disagreed with both the review and the book, and prompted David Rigler to make his first public statement on the case. In a letter to the New York Times published in June 1993, Rigler wrote that Angier's review was unfairly critical of the scientists, pointing to what he said were several major factual inaccuracies with her review of the book and the entire case. While he readily acknowledged researchers had numerous views about how to proceed with the research, he said with the exception of Butler/Ruch—whose intransigence the scientists had all independently affirmed in interviews with Rymer—there was never any infighting between the researchers at the center of the case. Rather, Rigler said they had worked together as best they could and tried to put Genie's best interests first, never making her developmental progress a requirement for receiving love and attention as was alleged in the review and in several interviews in the book. In particular, he argued that he and Marilyn would only have taken Genie into their home for four years if they truly cared about her as a human being as opposed to merely an experimental subject. Although he agreed that there were many unusual actions taken during the study, such as making Rigler both a scientist studying the case and temporary foster parent, he said this was because the case had no good precedent. Angier also claimed that during the time Genie's mother was attempting to sue the scientists, they made numerous public accusations and filed several lawsuits against each other—except for detailing Ruch's attacks, Rymer's book contained nothing to support these allegations. Rigler wrote none of them publicly spoke about the case at all during the legal proceedings, and denied any of the scientists had ever been involved in litigation against each other. Rigler made a few short comments on the book itself as well; besides responding to Rymer's claim that the lawsuit had been settled, he also said the book, unlike Angier's review, had accurately documented the reasons and series of events leading up to Genie's initial admission to Children's Hospital.
Other books 
Several books about feral and/or abused children contain chapters on Genie. Many books on linguistics and psychology also mention Genie's case. Linguist Steven Pinker discussed Genie's case in his 1994 book The Language Instinct, in which he argues in support of Noam Chomsky's theory that first language acquisition is instinctive in humans; he compared the similarities between her speech and the gesture systems deaf children create. In 1997, linguist Geoffrey Sampson mentioned Genie in Educating Eve: The 'Language Instinct' Debate, which specifically disputed Pinker's conclusions in The Language Instinct and more broadly attacked Chomsky's theory; among Sampson's arguments was that Genie's case did not, as Pinker argued, provide evidence for the innateness of language. In 2005, Sampson published The 'Language Instinct' Debate: Revised Edition, and in it he responded to criticism of his original representation of Genie's case. In it, he acknowledged he had not mentioned Curtiss' post-1977 accounts of Genie's speech in Educating Eve and discussed Peter Jones' analysis of these later writings; however, he wrote this had no significant impact on his conclusions regarding Genie, and concluded it was therefore unnecessary to reconsider his position on how her case related to his broader arguments on first-language acquisition.
Film and television 
In 1994, Nova made a documentary on Genie titled Secret of the Wild Child. It was aired by PBS in the United States and by the BBC in the United Kingdom. Narrated by Stacy Keach, the documentary covered Genie's life up until the time the lawsuit was filed, mentioning Genie's then-current living arrangements at the end. The documentary was at least partially inspired by Rymer's book, and like that work it features segments on and comparisons to Victor of Aveyron and his handling by scientists. It featured previously unreleased pictures and film of Genie, both by herself and working with various people on the research team, and showed interviews with many of the scientists involved in Genie's case and both of the lawyers initially representing Genie's mother in 1977. For the sections primarily focused on Victor, the documentary showed an interview with historian Harlan Lane. When Nova went to select footage of Genie to use in the episode, they found the film quality had significantly deteriorated and required restoration. Upon broadcast, the episode received positive reviews. The documentary won Emmy Awards for news and documentary programming, in the category of informational or cultural programming, in both 1994 and 1995.
In 2002, an episode of the television series Body Shock on feral children entitled Wild Child included a segment on Genie. The episode was aired by Channel 4 in the UK and on TLC in the United States. It discussed Genie's life until the time of the lawsuit, and at the end briefly mentioned she was still a ward of the state in California and that Susan Curtiss was still searching for Genie and desperately wanted to see her again. The segment on Genie featured film of her, both by herself and with Curtiss, and showed photographs of Genie's family and clips of news footage showing her parents shortly after their arrests. It also showed interviews with the police officer who arrested Genie's parents, a neighbor of Genie's parents during the time Genie was being held in captivity, Curtiss, and James Kent, and showed Curtiss and Kent meeting with each other. The interview with the police officer was shot outside Genie's childhood house; he said it was the first time he had visited the area since the arrests and subsequent search of the house, and pointed out one of the windows to the room Genie had been confined in. To explain the processes which had caused Genie's brain to become extremely right-hemisphere dominant, the segment showed an interview with child psychologist and neurologist Bruce D. Perry. The episode received a positive review in The Guardian.
The independent film Mockingbird Don't Sing, released in 2001, is based on Genie's case. Written by Daryl Haney and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, it followed Genie's life until sometime just before the lawsuit was filed by her mother, at which point the film ends and messages flash across the screen informing viewers of what happened after the film's timeline. The film was written primarily from the perspective of Susan Curtiss, the only person who worked directly with Genie to be involved in the film's making. The DVD extras contain an interview with Curtiss. Bromley Davenport said he was very sentimental about the movie and spent two years researching Genie's case for it, in the process gathering around 40 hours of interviews with Curtiss; in an interview he concurred with Curtiss' negative assessment of Rymer's writings on the case, and said he thought very highly of Curtiss' work with Genie. For legal reasons, all of the names in the movie were changed. The movie tied for first place as the best screenplay at the 2001 Rhode Island International Film Festival.
See also 
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