It is a rare occasion that both of my preferred fields (Psychology & Journalism) coincide. However, it has.
“An English-speaking teenager, thought to be 17, has been found living rough in the woods in Germany. He walked into Berlin’s City Hall and his first words were: “I’m all alone in the world”. Police are still trying to identify the young man. In good health, he calls himself Ray and can speak English fluently. He said he had walked from the forest, where he had been living with his father for the last five years.According to his story, his father was killed in a fall some two weeks ago.He has claimed he buried the body in a shallow grave and covered it with stones before walking to civilisation.” The youth remains in the care of Social Services.
Now, could this be a feral child? There have been some, albeit rare, cases around the world where children have shown feral characteristics.
Genie Wiley from LA, was locked in her bedroom for the first 13years of her life. In 1970, the police had taken her into custody. She never learned language, still wore diapers and spoke in infantile grunts and whines. This was a severe case of neglect.
However, from hearing the beginning of his story it is apparent that this youth is NOT feral. He was simply raised in a natural environment. He only started living rough in the past 5 years which means he would’ve learned language and behavioural skills from his parents and possibly, school. As he knows little German it is likely he is not originally from Germany.
It seems that Ray has no idea who he is (Interpol are investigating his background, trying to identify him) this could be due to a trauma from his past, possibly after the event of his mother’s death. He has withdrawn into a smaller, less educated version of himself. This is called Repression. It describes the most powerful and evasive method of defence, according to Freud. It allows the individual (Ray) to push unacceptable impulses out of awareness, back into the unconscious mind.
Due to this, the investigation must be carried out with caution as Ray will be fragile and, as no one is aware of his past, there is no telling how he could perceive the help Berlin’s police & social services are trying to provide.
The Foreign Office in London are also involved in trying to solve this riddle.
Until, his past is recovered Ray will remain unknown.
Prayers for Ray