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  • Scarlett Demy

The Role of Socialization

On 26 May 1828, a teenage boy appeared in the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. He carried a letter with him addressed to the captain of the 4th squadron of the 6th cavalry regiment, Captain von Wessenig. Its heading read: Von der Bäierischen Gränz / daß Orte ist unbenant / 1828 ("From the Bavarian border / The place is unnamed / 1828"). The anonymous author said that the boy was given into his custody as an infant on 7 October 1812 and that he instructed him in reading, writing and the Christian religion, but never let him "take a single step out of my house." The letter stated that the boy would now like to be a cavalryman "as his father was" and invited the captain either to take him in or to hang him.

Hauser was formally adopted by the town of Nuremberg and money was donated for his upkeep and education. He was given into the care of Friedrich Daumer, a schoolmaster and speculative philosopher, who taught him various subjects and who thereby discovered his talent for drawing. Daumer also subjected him to homeopathic treatments and magnetic experiments.

He attracted people from the entire town and towns over who were fascinated with and confused by his animal like mannerisms and different approaches to thinking.

At first it was assumed that he was raised half-wild in forests, but during many conversations with Mayor Binder, Hauser told a different version of his past life, which he later also wrote down in more detail. According to this story, for as long as he could remember he spent his life totally alone in a darkened cell about two metres long, one metre wide and one and a half high with only a straw bed to sleep on and two horses and a dog carved out of wood for toys.

He claimed that he found rye bread and water next to his bed each morning. Periodically the water would taste bitter and drinking it would cause him to sleep more heavily than usual. On such occasions, when he awakened, his straw had been changed and his hair and nails cut.

Because Kaspar had only consumed bread and water he remained doing so for a very long time. He continued to act out the behaviors he was accustomed to because that’s what made sense to him.

This story is absolutely fascinating not only because it’s true, but because it demonstrates just how much of human behavior is driven by programming and socialization.

One must question then, if we have been socialized by a society that was not necessarily looking out for our best interests, what beliefs, behaviors and habits have we accepted as truth?

It is an uncomfortable yet necessary probe into self on the path to self realization.


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