Chus Martinez On Infantalism (Adult Baby Fetish)

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Paraphilic infantilism, also known as autonepiophilia and adult baby syndrome is a sexual fetish that involves role-playing a regression to an infant-like state. Behaviours may include drinking from a bottle or wearing diapers. Individuals may engage in gentle and nurturing experiences (an adult who only engages in infantilistic play is known as an adult baby or be attracted to masochistic, coercive, punishing or humiliating experiences. Nappy (diaper) fetishism involves “diaper lovers” wearing diapers for sexual or erotic reasons but may not involve infant-like behaviour. Individuals who experience both of these things are referred to as adult baby/nappy lovers (AB/NL). When wearing nappies, infantilists may urinate or defecate in them.

There is no recognized etiology for infantilism and little research on the subject. It has been linked to masochism and a variety of other paraphilias. A variety of causes has been proposed, including altered lovemaps, imprinting gone awry and errors in erotic targets, though there is no consensus. A variety of organizations exist to promote infantilism or meet with other practitioners throughout the world.

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The infantilist community is described by one practitioner as made up of two main types – adult babies (adults who role play infants) and sissy babies (who role play as infants of the opposite gender). There are also individuals who wear nappies but do not act as infants, either nappy lovers who eroticise nappy wearing, or sadomasochists who use nappies as a way of enforcing dominance and submission. Though the categories are discrete, in practice the behaviours found in each group often overlap. Adult babies role playing as a baby or small child for erotic stimulation is considered the signature expression of paraphilic infantilism. This may involve the use of adult-sized nappies and baby clothes or toys and furniture such as a crib to lend reality to the infantilist fantasy, crawling on the floor, and some individuals may urinate or defecate in their nappies.

If a partner is willing, adult babies may engage in parent-baby role play including being bathed, powdered and changed into diapers by one’s partner, before being put to bed with a baby bottle. Lactation might also be simulated with a willing partner. Thereafter the adult baby may be comforted and pampered by their partner in the role of the parent and their nappy might be changed if wet or dirty. For some infantilists, the ritual might instead involve being scolded, spanked or chastised for having wet or dirtied their diapers. In this latter instance the mode of arousal is masochistic. Others may only desire gentle or nurturing treatment, based on the desire to be cared for or to “surrender the responsibilities of adult life”. Infantilism can involve masturbation and ejaculation but some choose not to engage in sex since it is not baby-like. The erotic pleasure derived from either of these forms of infantilism may replace the need for sexual intercourse in reaching orgasm.

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A survey found that infantilists are commonly male, are on average thirty-eight years of age, in steady employment, normally have an undergraduate level of education or higher and are usually married or in a stable relationship. However, since there are so few studies of infantilists and so few women who self-identify as infantilists, it is not clear how accurate this survey was.

Meaningful information on the incidence or prevalence of any of the paraphilias are lacking due to the more often than not clandestine nature of such practices. Similarly, it has been observed that infantilism is a closeted activity and it is not well documented in medical literature. If exceptional behaviours do not cause functional impairment, personal distress or distress to others, or have legal implications they can escape the purview of psychiatric awareness and knowledge. Additionally, infantilists may not consider themselves as suffering from a medical condition and may not want to change their behaviour. Individuals with paraphilic infantilism may only seek therapy for other issues, or be encouraged or coerced to seek treatment if discovered by others.

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Infantilism is a diffuse phenomenon and different authorities have taken varied approaches to the question of its medical and sexological classification. Confusing infantilism with paedophilia is a common misunderstanding, but since infantilism exclusively involves role-playing with other adults, infantilism is not related to paedophilia, or any other form of child sexual abuse. Sexologist Gloria Brame states that “…infantilists who recognise and accept their sexuality – and its possible roots in infantile trauma – tend to be acutely protective of real children.”

John Money states that nappy fetishists may be sexually attracted to nappy-wearing babies, a condition he calls nepiophilia, but describes infantilism as autonepiophilia in which the individual desires to be and impersonate a baby and does not desire an infant as a sexual partner.

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In 1993 sexologists Ray Blanchard and Kurt Freund published and discussed a series of case studies involving infantilists and noted a distinction between them and paedophiles. While paedophiles were attracted to children (and objects related to childhood) due to the desire for a child sexual partner, infantilists imagined themselves as children and adopted the objects of childhood or infancy to increase the power difference between themselves and their preferred sexual partners of adult women, with whom they acted out masochistic fantasies.

Individuals with nappy fetishism typically do not imagine themselves as babies. Rather, they more often see themselves as adults who are drawn to wearing nappies. John Money distinguishes between infantilism or autonepiophilia and paraphilic nappy-wearing, stating that the latter is a paraphilic fetish that manifests as an erotic attraction to an article of clothing while the former is a non-fetishistic paraphilia directed at a change of status in terms of age identity.

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Infantilists, usually male, may also engage in cross-dressing and wear clothes stereotypically associated with young girls. This type of behaviour is referred to as being a “sissy baby”. Masochistic infantilists may wish to be forcibly cross-dressed.

The first public event for adult babies was “Baby Week”, occurring in San Francisco in the early 1990s. Subsequently the internet became a major forum, with numerous websites offering books, magazines, audio and video tapes and related paraphernalia, as well as a 24-hour hotline. Paraphilic infantilism has appeared as an alternative lifestyle in numerous Western countries including the United States, England, Germany and Australia. The organization “Diaper Pail Friends” was established in San Francisco, growing to approximately 3,000 members in 1995 through magazine articles, books, talk shows and the internet. The organization was studied in 1995 by a group of sexologists, though the results were not published. In 2001 the New York organization “Still in Diapers” was founded for nappy fetishists. In 2008 the Diaper Pail Friends had expanded to a national organization in the USA and claimed a membership of 15,000.

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