Spanish psychologist tries to unravel mystery of Cambodia's 'jungle woman'
Wed Jan 24, 2:14 AM
By Ker Munthit
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Cambodia's "jungle woman" smiled for the first time, showing a childlike appreciation for a puppet show put on by a visiting Spanish psychologist, the man who claims to be her long-lost father said Wednesday.
Hector Rifa, a doctor of psychology from Spain's University of Oviedo, was spending several days with the woman in the hope of unravelling some of the mystery surrounding her since she emerged from the forest Jan. 13, naked and unable to speak, after what may have been nearly two decades in the wild.
Rifa is the first foreign medical professional to meet the woman who is believed to be 27-year-old Rochom P'ngieng, who disappeared in the jungles of Cambodia's northeastern Rattanakiri province while herding water buffaloes when she was 8.
A professor of psychology of religion in adolescents used examples of "jungle children" like these, to explain how important language is in the development of the human brain. If a child does not learn to speak at a young age, he will pretty much remain animal-like in behavior. It would appear that an older child who loses contact with society and therefore forgets his language, would have similar results.