AB/DL is an acronym derived from the expressions Adult Baby and Diaper Lover.
What is the difference between AB and DL? Adult Babies (AB) are persons who enjoy
living the role of young children and /or babies. Diaper Lovers Simply love to wear
And what is infantilism then? It is simply a word used to refer to AB/DLs' paraphilia.
The scientific word for AB/DLS is autonepiaphylia. Following language rules, those
who practice infantilism are called infantilists.
It has been our experience in the nursery that only one in every 25 guests is female
while the balance is male. There dose seem to be one factor that we have noticed
in many of our friends and guests. That is that they have all shared some type of
trauma during childhood.
There doesn't seem to be a social or genetic predisposition to infantilism. We have
met CEOs, Royalty, Artists and people from all walks of life.
Try and understand that by trauma, it could be something as simple as a sibling
being born or a parent forcing the child to wear diapers. We have heard hundreds
of stories that show a common theme.
What is True Infantilism?
Written by Kathy Stringer
There is remarkably little information on this subject. For this reason it may be
helpful to establish criteria to recognize infantilism. The onset of true infantilism
is marked by earliest of memories fantasizing of regressive dependencies. Usually
always during early childhood & youth the individual believes they are isolated
and alone with these regressive desires, and that no one else in the world is like
them. These individuals for the most part keep their pervasive symptoms of needing
to act-out the regression hidden from family, friends and significant others. A
common theme revolves around wearing diapers, which in most cases will give rise
toward a role-identification of an infantile personality. Over time the behavior
in most all cases will expand to include other infantile objects such as pacifiers,
baby blankets, baby bottles and soft stuffed figures.
Transitional Object vs. Fetish
A person may view true infantilism mistakenly for a fetish. There is a stark difference
since the desire for the object occurred before puberty
[2,4,5]. For example, the diaper may be regarded as a symbolic formation
to ward of insecurities 
and becomes a transitional object for a child
. In strivings toward independence personality fragments may fuse with
objects that represent nurturing
. It appears to provide a sense of control for the child to revisit a
period that is widely accepted in our culture as nurturing. The energized transitional
object offers relief from separation anxieties from the maternal figure and/or provides
a sense of recreation of a period lost in grief.
The Abuse Connection
In some instances when abuse or neglect has traumatized a child
, the small child may identify with toddlers in neighboring families
and yearn for the same infantile attention. The child may secretly wish to exchange
places and experience being diapered, cuddled, fed and nurtured as a renewed experience
from a failed situation .
The observance of the attentive maternal figure construes as representation for
the unconditional love longed for in a healthy environment. This longing may become
fixated in the individual’s core developmental structures
 since it provided a coping mechanism in absent of the good-enough mother.
In essence, the fantasy of receiving infantile attention helped the child survive
and to emotionally refuel during a chaotic period. In most case these mechanisms
will continue to manifest by way of recurring infantile fantasies through out the
life cycle of the individual.
The Libidinous Component
As the infantile child moves through the latency period into adolescence, it is
not uncommon for the transitional objects to remain with greater influence. After
all, the infantile fantasy has been repeated many times along with its vicissitudes
and is now firmly imprinted into the psychopathic structure. In some individuals,
once libidinous gratification is augmented and integrated with the existing infantile
fantasy, a new association emerges. The existing fantasy that provided a cathexis
for emotional refueling is now set into motion with the more satisfying libido component.
Essentially, the pre- libidinous transitional object takes on a new dynamic to relieve
anxieties and to satisfy cognitive patterns set in childhood. It is not unreasonable
to conclude that the fantasies imbued with the transitional object will become more
concretized when intermittently connected to the libido drives.
Fragmentation and a Continuous Sense of Self
It is not uncommon for the infantile individual to become despondent from impinging
feelings of guilt. After all, they may think that children do grow up one day and
they have failed miserably. Some infantile individuals tend to look at life as ‘all
or nothing’ terms. Either I am all regressed and unable to function, or, I
am all grownup and must purge all the transitional objects. This thinking is much
like a toddler uses in the defense of ‘splitting’.
A toddler relates to the world in all or nothing terms..i.e..”I love Mommy”
or “I hate Mommy.” A toddler is unable to tolerate conflict or ambivalence
and becomes unmanageable at times with temper tantrums since the anxiety is too
overwhelming . In succinct,
the infantile individual that is either engulfed with regression or defiant of infantile
longings is behaving age appropriately with the toddler. More desirable and since
regression is an enduring imprint, it cannot be ignored. To bring infantile wishes
in harmony with a higher level functioning, a comprise must be reached. This understanding
of one’s complexities gives way to a more continuous sense-of-self.
Dependency vs. Nurturing
Most infantile individuals incorporate a maternal figure into the childhood fantasy.
This becomes a problem since to achieve a realistic experience the individual may
seek out a mother figure and become depressed in her absence. It is for this reason
I would like to point out a compelling difference between dependency and nurturing.
Dependency engenders neediness
 and a notion that one cannot be nurtured without the presence of another
individual. This is a false assumption that may lead to desperation. A belief that
infantile expressions can never be meaningful unless dependent other others can
be catastrophic. Dependency creates a dependency on others for happiness. The infantile
individual can nurture themselves with the advantage and use of transitional objects.
The individual can simply be himself or herself and find happiness in being alive
and able to experience regressive nurturing introspectively. An acceptance of self
is the most nurturing aspect of life.
A Helpful Analogy
I’ll concrete this a bit further. Transitional Objects, a term coined by Winnicott,
is an object of attachment that the infant uses to provide relief. In true infantilism,
a diaper is a transitional object from ‘earliest’ memories….and
holds a primary meaning of comfort and nurturing rather then a secondary sexual
object. This analogy may help to clarify true infantilism. A transvestite wears
women’s clothing for sexual gratification, and clearly a fetish. On the other
hand a transsexual wears women’s clothing from the desire to ‘become’
a woman and some cases with SRS the transformation is complete, and this is not
a fetish for a transsexual. I see true infantilism as more connected to the transsexual
aspect of this analogy. In essence, for the true infantile individual, a diaper
is not a fetish but rather a Transitional Object with it’s origins in early
Therapy and Treatment
There is no known cure for true infantilism. Its patterns and deliveries to satisfy
infantile longings are set firmly into place. It appears to become problematic when
situations place an emphasis for disclosure…i.e. getting engaged or getting
married. The infantilized individual grapples for a decision because fears of ashamedness,
rejection, abandonment and exploitation are commonly associated with past developmental
struggles in childhood. It brings to surface a terrifying risk that the new partner
or family member will misunderstand and take the position it is a bizarre perverted
derangement and action to crush the behavior is paramount. As stated, there is no
known cure and treatment toward self-acceptance and individuality may ameliorate
destructive wishes and behavior. Acceptance may resolve self-hatred and command
the unrelenting forces of the cultural inner critic to subside. Since the personality
is fused with the nurturing transitional object, in would not be therapeutic to
destroy, purge, annihilate or defeat the mechanism that has provided some emotional
stability for the individual. It would equate to most as wiping out the inner child.
One treatment modality may be applicable. A healthy balance is to be encouraged
to help an individual from completely giving in to regressive behaviors. Introduce
exercises to limit the fantasies to diminish pervasive regressive behavior since
engulfment may create a larger abyss that is not grounded in reality.
I don't see how a therapist can help with regression, at least from my experience.....UNLESS,
the therapist is there to help with self-acceptance and validation. Once one can
accept self, then the forces are not so relentless......it brings a feeling of.....I
am okay....I am a unique individual and it is okay to be me. If you can accept that,
then life becomes more rewarding, and that inner child becomes loved. Each needs
their own time. One should not starve the other, or put guilt on the other.....you
are what you are.
- Letter from Bruno Bettelheim 1978
- The Transitional Space / Peter Giovacchini (p.28,80,81)
- Prisoners of Childhood / Alice Miller (p.23,24,54)
- Separation-Individuation / Margaret Mahler (p.108,157,171)
- The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant / Mahler, Pine, Bergman (p.77,82,84,155)
- Object Relations Individual Therapy / Scharff & Scharff (p.58)
- The Facilitating Partnership / Applegate & Bonovitz (p.159)
- The Language of Winnicott / Jan Abram (p.251)