Feral children

The Wild Boy of Aveyron

The wild boy was captured a first time in the woods near the village of Lacaune, France, in 1797. He managed to escape, but a year later (1798) he was caught again in the vicinity by three hunters as he was climbing a tree. He was then taken to a local widow’s house, who fed and clothed him for a week.

At the first change, the boy again ran away to the forest. Eventually, during the harsh winter of 1800, the hungry wild boy was captured again near another village, Saint Sernin, by a a local leather tanner named Vidal.

The boy was dirty and inarticulate, and he moved on all fours and grunted like a beast. Brought to Paris, he was examined by members of various scientific and medical congregations. Pioneer psychologist Philippe Pinel examined the boy and diagnosed him an incurable idiot, doubting the story of his wild origins.

But against all odds, a young physician and teacher of deaf-mute and retarded children named Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard took charge of the boy’s education with the help of Miss Guerin who took care of him during 17 years until his death.

Victor learned how to read, say a few words and to obey simple commands, but he never properly learned to speak. He died in 1828. Victor is the main character of “L’enfant sauvage”, the beautiful movie from François Truffaut (1969).