Privation is the failure to form attachment. It occurs when a child has no opportunity to form a relationship with a parental figure, or when such relationship is distorted, due to their treatment. It is different to deprivation, which occurs when an established relationship is severed. It is understood that privation can produce social, emotional, and intellectual problems for children; however, how inevitable such problems become as a results of privation and the extent to which can be reserved remains an issue of debate among psychologists.
Curtis’ (1977) study of Genie gives much information about the privation we know today. Genie was a feral child, victim of severe abuse, neglect and social isolation caused by her father. She was locked alone in a room from the age of 20 months until she was 13 years and 7 months old. During this time she was almost always strapped to a child's toilet or bound in a crib with her arms and legs immobilized. Genie was never exposed to a significant amount of speech therefore she did not acquire a first language.
Due to all this treatment she was undersized, she never focalized, continually sniffed, salivated, spat and clawed and was also very interested in exploring environmental stimuli. After Genie was rescued psychologists, linguists and other scientists focused a great deal of attention on her case. Genie was cared for initially at a childrens hospital in Los Angeles but subsequent placements eventually gave rise to debate. She was moved after 8 months to a foster home for a month and a half.
After this move she was then again moved to multiple foster homes before returning to her mother, who at this point didn’t care for her, this led to her being put into a disabled adults hospital. Genie never made a full recovery, she lacked social responsiveness. Her lack of recovery may be due to the fact that she was found beyond the ‘sensitive period’ or because of the physical deprivation she experienced. However, there are many ways we can and can not trust this case study.
This experiment was longitudinal, this meant that the researchers could go into deep detail and it also meant there was lots of gathered data to support findings. This case study is also one of the only ways of testing child privation and there are few cases to dismiss that Genies situation is not due to privation. Although, this experiment broke all ethical guidelines, there was no consent or debrief meaning that the girl was not protected. Also there was no set hypothesis or control, it was simply an experiment without aim, this causes a struggle to sum up the researchers findings and deems the research worthless.
Lastly the experimenters kept repeating the tests causing loss of validity and the practise effect. On the other hand, The Czech twins case study contradicts the findings of Curtis’ Genie. This experiment followed two male, identical twins whose mother died at birth. They first went through a variety of care where they were first put into a childrens home, then left with their aunt then returned to their father and stepmother. Their stepmother was cruel and locked them in a cold, dark, small cellar where they twins became malnourished.
When the boys were found they could hardly walk and barely speak, they had acute rickets and were also very fearful. The boys were then put into a hospital shortly before being fostered by two sisters who had experience in caring for abused children. The twins made a good recovery, they achieved in school and by the time they hit their 20’s they had jobs and families. We can trust this case study because they twins were followed and researched up until the ages of 20, this gave us the research of whether the recovery was long lasting.
Their progress was also measure in a lot of different ways which meant there was much evidence to back up findings. However, a reason it is difficult to trust this study is that the researchers couldn't prove the privation, or to what extent it was, we do not know if the twins bonded with each other. Another reason is that the sisters whom fostered the twins were unique. They had experience of abused children meaning the good recovery could have only been because of the aftercare provided.