Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Extreme Isolation

Communication is what allows culture to exist, but just how important is it in shaping people? This question brings forth the issue of nature vs. nurture. One could argue that socialization is not all that important, as (due to nature) people would develop regardless. However, such an assumption would be false. As it turns out, social stimulation is crucial to a child's development. It would seem that such a conclusion would be near impossible to make, however the discovery and analysis of extremely isolated children shed light on the situation.
It makes sense to assume that children gain social skills innately. For that to be true, however, the children who had been extremely isolated should have had some basic level of. That was not the case for Anna in the article, who had been neglected and only interacted with when being fed milk. In fact, Anna did not know how to function at all. She did not even know how to walk or feed herself. She was helpless. She was never taught how to act, so she just never learned. 
Anna's case is similar to Genie's, whom we learned about in class. Much like Anna, Genie was raised in horrific conditions of solitude. However, Genie's case was more extreme. In fact, Genie was isolated for so long that her brain deteriorated and she lost all capacity to learn language. 
Both examples clarify that nurture is a humongous force in child development, because nature is nowhere near sufficient at bringing up a child.
When applied to our own lives, it is very clear that we are very much shaped by our social surroundings. I am often more concerned about what others think about me than what I think. I have been in some way taught all the morals and beliefs that have been instilled in me. Interestingly enough, what the extremely isolated children taught us is that much of what we are is formed by what others make us into.

This brain scan shows the dramatic negative effects extreme neglect has on the brain.

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