Victor Of Aveyron
Topic: History - Biography
Uploaded By Fhadeea A.
The term “feral child” or also known as “wild child” was meant to describe a human child who has lived isolated from human society from a very young age and received very little experience of proper human care and behaviour, or left civilisation.
There were many documented cases of what is considered “feral children”. Many cases of having the children experiencing trauma or abuse before being abandoned or fleeing away from their homes, some even grew up to be raised by other animals such as wolves, dogs, bears, and many more
Notably, one well-known case of a feral boy in France, was the story of Victor Of Aveyron.
During Victor’s early life, he was estimated to have been born somewhere in roughly the year of 1788. Victor was speculated to be born as a child with normal health, but then was neglected by his parents. Leading him to leave his home and into the wild alone, without ones help.
His first discovery was first spotted in 1794 when he was reportedly sighted in the woods of Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance by local villagers, and was allegedly said to be raised by wolves[note], it was unknown on how he came to lived near there. But in 1979, a young child by the age of nine or ten years was signed in Tarn, he was spotted by local hunters, they then caught him and brought him to a nearby town. He was taken to the village of Lacaune to be cared for by a young widow for several months. However, Victor managed to escape and ran back into the woods again, but was occasionally spotted in 1798 and 1799, where in the winter he went from Tarn to Aveyron.
On January 8, 1800, Victor voluntarily made an appearance away from the forests. He was spotted naked and had untidy hair. He was taken out of the woods by three shoemakers.
He ran away again and left the woods and was discovered a week later at a dry cleaner's house in Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance. Victor was roughly about twelve years of age and barely spoke words, walked on four legs, eats plants, appearance was hairy, deaf and mute. Three days later in Saint-Affrique he was sent to an orphanage, and then to another orphanage at Rodez on the 4th of February.
A psychiatrist wrote a report on Victor, and examined that he was considered mentally ill at birth.
He was then examined at the National Institute of the Deaf in Paris, it was said that he was in completely healthy condition, but the reason he barely spoke was because he had never come into contact with any language. It has been said that he was comfortable with exposure and cold in nude, therefore he was accustomed to harsh conditions and cold weather.
During the influence of the enlightenment movement that has caused a debate, many scientists during the time believed that the ability to learn and abide by conventions is what differentiates humans from animals. Several researchers made an attempt to teach Victor language and the basics of communication to prove that the development of one’s language and social abilities depends on one’s surroundings.
Although Victor signs of progress, he was still hyperactive and had no interest in learning. Leading researchers to give up the thought that he would be able to adapt to any social convention.
Luckily, he was then adopted by a young medical student, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard. At first, Victor was known with the name “Wolf Child”, until Itard gave him the name “Victor”. Empathy and language were the two things that Itard believed separated humans from animals. He attempted to teach Victor to speak and communicate through human emotion. But Victor only showed few early progress in understanding language and reading simple words, unfortunately he did not learn how to fully speak.
The only two phrases Victor ever actually learned to spell out were the words “Milk” and the phrase “Oh, God.”, both in french (“Lait.” and “Oh, Dieu.”)
Although Victor did not learn to speak, Victor did made some progress in his behaviour towards other individuals. One example that Itard reported during the time at his home, housekeeper Madame Guérin cried because of the of her husband. Victor showed a behaviour to comfort the housekeeper during her grief.
Victor's death was caused by pneumonia in 1828, aged 40, where he died in the home of Madame Guérin.
Thanks for reading the article!
1. It has come to a few debates that the genuine thought of children being raised by animals were hoaxes.