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Chapter: Psychology: Language

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Wild Children

In 1920, Indian villagers discovered a wolf mother in her den together with four cubs.

Wild Children

In 1920, Indian villagers discovered a wolf mother in her den together with four cubs. Two were baby wolves, but the other two were human children, subsequently named Kamala and Amala. No one knows how they got there or why the wolf adopted them. Roger Brown (1958) tells us what these children were like:

Kamala was about eight years old and Amala was only one and one-half. They were thoroughly wolfish in appearance and behavior: Hard callus had developed on their knees and palms from going on all fours. Their teeth were sharp edged. They moved their nostrils sniffing food. Eating and drinking were accomplished by lowering their mouths to the plate. They ate raw meat. . . . At night they prowled and sometimes howled. They shunned other children but followed the dog and cat. They slept rolled up together on the floor. . . . Amala died within a year but Kamala lived to be eighteen. . . . In time, Kamala learned to walk erect, to wear clothing, and even to speak a few words. The outcome was much the same for the 30 or so other wild children about whom we have reports (Figure 10.29). When found, they were all shockingly animal-like. None of them could be rehabilitated to use language normally, though some, including Kamala, learned to speak a few words.


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