Human Psychological Development in 'Feral Children' - The Case of Betty Topper

Essay by myfriendgooHigh School, 11th gradeA, July 2006

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The documented case of Betty Topper:

In September 1999 police found six-year-old girl Betty Topper chained to a bed with 'what appeared to be' a dog leash, after they got a tip from an anonymous caller who said the child had not been seen in years. Her mother Cyndi Topper later confessed that she had been chained there for five years.

When police searched the house (located in Norco, California), it was covered with garbage from the floor to the ceiling and there were human and animal faeces everywhere. Police made their way to a back bedroom where they saw a small girl, chained by a dog leash to a brass bed with a harness around her waist. She had nothing on but a nappy. She was covered with faeces and filth and had over-grown hair down to her waist. She was extremely malnourished and pale. Police officers described her as looking as "if she had never seen the light of day".

The child was taken to Loma Linda Medical Centre where she was treated and evaluated. She was listed in serious but stable condition, and was suffering from malnutrition. A month later she had gained 4.5 kilograms to weigh a total of 18kg, and was becoming more interactive with other people, although she could still not speak.

Psychological and development deficits of this child;

Betty Topper's physical development was severely delayed. She weighed around half the weight of an average six year old. This was due to malnutrition and maybe even psychosocial dwarfism. In the psychosocial dwarfism syndrome, the failure to grow is caused because the production of growth hormone is suppressed due to extremely high levels of psychosocial stress. Once sufferers are removed to a normal (nurturing) environment, there is usually rapid catch-up growth; which is true...