Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s book, Lost Prince: The Unsolved Case of Kasper Hauser, offers a number of perspectives on the tragic, intriguing, and celebrated case of Kaspar Hauser. Hauser was said to have been kept in isolation during childhood, imprisoned in his room. His story first came to light when he turned up in Nuremberg in 1828, at the age of sixteen, barely able to walk or talk. Hauser attracted notoriety both during his lifetime and since, inspiring a large literature that Masson cites in his approximately two hundred footnotes.
As indicated in the subtitle, the story of Kaspar Hauser is a mystery, or actually a series of mysteries. One such mystery pertains to his unusual state of mind, so clearly described in Feuerbach’s work, and how this mental state relates to his severe isolation during childhood. There is also the mystery of Hauser’s death, reported to be a murder. Some people claimed that Hauser’s death was a suicide and that his whole presentation was a sham. Linked with the mystery of Hauser’s death is the question about his identity. Masson marshals evidence to support a theory that Hauser was the Prince of Baden and that he was murdered for political reasons.
These mysteries are linked with the confusion that often surrounds reports of child abuse: Did it really happen? If it did, to what extent are the person’s current problems the result of the fact of that abuse? And to what extent can one rely on the accuracy of the individual’s memory of abusive experiences?
The unusual case of Kasper Hauser resonates with the story of the Terminator, a cyborg, a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body. The Terminator, by his nature, has no family or developmental history. He is a total naif for whom human emotions and traits are beyond his knowledge and experience. He arrives in human society, a mysterious figure, like Kasper Hauser in the streets of Nuremberg.
So we see in Terminator 2: Judgment Day an affinity with the story of Kasper Hauser as well as the myth of Lohengrin and the metaphor of Cassandra.