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January 5, 1994

The Kaspar Hauser Syndrome of 'Psychosocial Dwarfism': Deficient Statural, Intellectual, and Social Growth Induced by Child Abuse

Author Affiliations

Austin, Tex


by John Money, 290 pp, $24.95, ISBN 0-87975-754-X, Buffalo, NY, Prometheus Books, 1992.

JAMA. 1994;271(1):71. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510250087043

Kaspar Hauser emerged at the Haller Gate in the city of Nuremberg, Bavaria, on May 26,1828, shrouded in mystery and greatly romanticized. A 17-year-old dwarfed male, with a blank mind and without language, he exhibited a spurt of growth and intellectual and social development, becoming a highly peculiar and limited young man whose origin remained enigmatic when he was assassinated on December 14,1833. His story became the sensation of the day throughout Europe and has been enshrined in literature through the present.

In his book, John Money proposes "Kaspar Hauser syndrome" to designate a previously poorly understood and described constellation of symptoms and findings he and others have noted in small children who had been sequestered in their homes and subjected by their caretakers to extreme neglect and other abuses, lasting to adolescence in some cases. His appears to be the first book-length treatment in the scientific literature of this

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