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Thread: AB/DL as a Psychological Syndrome: Impact and Future

  1. #1

    Default AB/DL as a Psychological Syndrome: Impact and Future

    I've been reading and scouring databases and medical journals as of late to find material relating to specifically Adult Babies. Some of the case studies currently published have been relativity recent (in the last decade). A lot of the cases presented tend to be somewhat extreme, but I often wonder about this particular comment on a recent case study:

    Clinicians involved in the treatment of Mr. A often questioned whether his symptoms represented OCD, a paraphilia, or some new diagnostic entity.
    Comment on Adult Baby Syndrome/Drs. Pate and Gabbard
    Croarkin, Paul; Nam, Theodore; Waldrep, DouglasView Profile; Pate, Jennifer ; Gabbard, Glen. The American Journal of Psychiatry161.11 (Nov 2004): 2141-2142.

    Mr. A was a published AB/DL case study (found in full at the end) and many of the researchers often remarked about this being "New territory." An interesting excerpt from that report:

    Adult Baby Syndrome is a recently described symptom cluster, which has not yet become part of any official psychiatric classification system. There have been only a few case reports in the literature, which presented either as a paraphilia or an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (Croarkin, Nam, & Waldrep, 2004; Dinello, 1967; Malitz, 1966; Pate & Gabbard, 2003; Tuchman & Lachman, 1964). These patients shared the common symptoms of wearing diapers, drinking milk out of a bottle, eating baby food, and wanting to become a baby.
    "A recently described symptom cluster..."

    There's often a lot of talk about this being an identity. So I often wonder what that implication would be if more case studies came out and held some compelling evidence to suggest this being a new diagnostic entity beyond a paraphilia or some other type of disorder. Many AB/DLs I've seen in the community have sought counseling for other matters and they sometimes bring up their AB/DLism. Would that change therapy at all? Would it change perception?

    I don't believe this following example (and this is simply to be provocative to entice discussion), : Anorexia is a well researched eating disorder. There are some online communities that glorify and make an identity out of it (Pro-Ana). Would classification of ABism as a disorder put us in that same category as Pro-Ana in this way in the public moreso?

    This is a very open ended question on how the community at large views such case studies and what impacts some of the research may have on perception of AB/DL if it builds off current papers. Some general questions to get it rolling: What do you think overall? What research or case studies do you find essential in answering this question? What do you think the future holds in later studies for AB/DLs?

    Comment on the case studies too, at the bottom.

    Pate, Jennifer E (11/01/2003). Adult baby syndrome. The American journal of psychiatry. , 160 (11), p. 1932 - 6

    Archives of Sexual Behavior
    October 2011, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 857-859
    Adult Baby Syndrome and Gender Identity Disorder
    Kristina Kise, Mathew Nguyen

    Commentary on “Adult Baby Syndrome” by Evcimen and Gratz (2006)

    Last edited by Geno; 18-Jan-2014 at 02:38.

  2. #2


    I'm familiar with the case of Mr. A, having found that several years ago. I found it interesting, though I wondered if it was genuine. I suppose it is. Logically, little is known about us because most of us don't seek psychological help, at least not specifically for that which is being called, Adult Baby Syndrome.

    As you probably know, in 1970, my college senior year, my mom sent me to a psychiatrist for exactly this, and for being gay. As you also know, being gay in 1970 could place one into a residential mental facility against one's will. It was at such a large facility outside of Princeton where I was sent, though I was not a resident. To be honest, I felt that I was mentally ill. Wanting to wear and use diapers as well as being attracted to young males went against all the accepted norms of late 60's society. Being an adult baby still does, even in the year 2013.

    Having lived for 66 years, I have some historical perspective, but psychological perspective is as vague now as it was then. Not only are we not understood, we don't really understand ourselves. The desires exist; they simply are.

    As I explained in another recent thread, my mom had called and set up the appointment, so my shrink may have researched infantilism before I arrived for my appointment. His opinion was that I'd outgrow it, something which wasn't very much help. He was far more concerned about my attraction to males, because that could land one in jail, or worse. Sometimes people such as myself got beaten, or murdered. I had my share of fights growing up, as well as being hit upon by other boys for sex. It was not easy growing up.

    As was said in the other thread, we're not known because we, for the most part, don't seek professional help. Most of us function in society, and keep our regressive side well hidden. I agree with you, Geno, that it does seem that many of us site having other psychological problems. Depression may be the most prevalent, and we see a great number who profess to be on the Autistic scale. We see a much greater percentage than on general sites, of those who identify with the opposite gender, as you have sited in one of your cases.

    The question is valid, is Adult Baby Syndrome also part of some greater psychological dysforia? I can cite my own case, having trouble socializing as a very young child, being bullied and because of my personality, lashing out and fighting back. By junior high I was cutting and setting things on fire, including myself. By high school I had tried to commit suicide. I probably put my parents through hell, yet they managed to support me and love me.

    To your original question, yes, I believe it is a syndrome, a dysfunction of some sort. I would have been quick to affirm that when I was a teenager, a young adult, and a young father. I didn't understand the urges I couldn't say no to, nor could I accept them. This site has enabled me to finally make peace with it all. Perhaps there's both acceptance and sanity in numbers.

    Good topic Geno, and I suspect many members will have something to contribute to this post, including myself.

  3. #3


    This is a very good topic!
    All of this is very interesting and I've never heard of Mr. A until now.
    Do I think it should be defined in the latest DSM? I don't know, a disorder has a negative stigma.
    I do think however, that AB/DL's (and other categories) are portrayed poorly and there is little understanding around it.
    In the end - I just don't know. More research should be conducted.

  4. #4


    The problem is always the ability to discus the urges in an anonymous setting. I would be absolutely mortified if my extended family found out about this.
    Somewhere in an alternate universe where everyone can talk about their quirks and kinks freely and openly there is probably a shot or a pill I would sell my soul for either.

  5. #5


    Very interesting topic, I too had read the first one but not the others, until now.

    I think this is a very difficult question to find one single answer. It is easy to say it is a syndrome as the case studies had found, however you can take the evidence of all three cases and apply it to just about any situation where there is someone with a mental illness and an odd sexual fetish. Would you class someone who like being spanked by mistresses, who also happened to be very depressed, as having Mistress Spanking Syndrome?

    With all the cases the AB part of the patients personality and sexual use of diapers are wrapping a very serious mental disorder in its own right. The case about the LG seems to allude to some child abuse issues. Also it seems to allude to medical and depression issues mixed in with poor guy in the nursing home.

    I personally think it is wrong to label a fetish with a medical syndrome as this can only do more harm. As Dogboy stated, 99% of folk who engage their desires also live perfectly normal lives and wait to be back at home to indulge. This is the same for the man who wants a beating from his mistress, he would not suddenly decide at work to have this done in the tea room! Also, what about people who live these kinds of lives all the time, I know a couple who run there own fetish business, the woman is dominated all day every day. She is the most happy and well rounded person you could hope to meet. Does she have mental illness or a disorder?

    I think these kinds of studies, while trying to find some reasoning, are hard for the doctor to deal with. What I mean by this is that they are trying to associate desires to a generic term or phrase, when everyone embraces their kinks, fetishes and relaxing tools in different ways. If I was to go to doctor about my desires I would probably be locked away. I don't just like ABDL things but some very extreme BDSM play. If the doctor did not also have these feelings and enjoy them, they would think I was dangerous to women, yet of course, I only do these things with women who also want to engage in it.

    It would take an eternity to come up with a correct diagnosis to fit all people who enjoy a strange kink. The cases above are very interesting but I just feel the are extreme and have to many other aspects to be considered before applying a blanket diagnosis. I would not say I 'suffer' from my odd behaviours and feel the opposite, they give me life and power to enjoy and succeed in life. I feel the case studies have no objectivity and no comparison with others who enjoy this without underlying mental illness. But still a good read and it does highlight the dangers of how people can get detached from society due to past experiences or severe mental illness.

    Everyone here should read these types of things and re-evaluate themselves to make sure they have no dangers of slipping into this.

  6. #6


    From my own experiences, and the experiences of others in the community, I've noticed that not all ABDLs fit the classic fetish definition. For some of us, wearing diapers is something we do for sexual pleasure, and so it fits with the idea of a fetish very easily (in general, this describes people who are DLs). However, some of us see our little side as a shift in identity. We don't do it for sexual reasons, but as a means of escape or a way to identify with parts of our personality (typically, this describes ABs).

    So I think that in some cases, this can certainly be analyzed as a fetish - when people do this as a way of expressing sexual desire, I think it fits the classic fetish mould quite well. Evcimen and Gratz's case, for example, sounds like a fetish to me. The patient was sexually attracted to the idea of becoming a little girl. So in this case it does sound like a fetish (granted, a disturbing one, with the patient's history of interest in actual children). But what about those of us who do this for non-sexual reasons?

    The idea of LGs kept popping into my mind as I read that last study. LGs are people, usually men, who like to dress up as little girls. But in my case, and the descriptions of other LGs on here, this isn't a sexual thing. In my case it's more wrapped up in the idea of escaping stereotypical adult male responsibilities, and being able to express myself in ways that would be more appropriate for a young child. I simply enjoy taking on a girl's role, and all the things that go with that, whether it's the status, the clothing, the toys, or the emotional expression. Sexuality doesn't enter into the picture at all when I regress, so I don't think it can be described as a fetish.

    So Geno, I think you're right that in a lot of cases, we may be looking at something entirely new here. Non-sexual ABs and related folks such as LGs probably fall under a new subheading. What we do can't really be described as a fetish. So I think another heading is more appropriate.

    I think that future research should focus on links with other conditions, or on the possibility of this being a whole new psychological subheading. Some good candidates might be:

    Autism spectrum - A lot of ABs seem to report being somewhere on the autism spectrum (for example, Asperger's syndrome). Also, I've seen some assertions that people on the spectrum have a high rate of sexual fetishism. I think this may be tied to both sensory issues (liking certain sensations, such as the feel of a wet diaper, that most people wouldn't) and ways of interpreting the world (most people think of infancy as safe and comfortable, but for someone on the spectrum, they may interpret this as meaning that it's better to be a baby sometimes). A link between the autism spectrum and ABDL would be a fascinating study.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - In obsessive-compulsive disorder, people have rituals or techniques they use to cope with stresses. For some, ABDL is a way they cope with stresses. There could be a relation here. I'm not saying that ABDL is a symptom of OCD, but that the two may have similar patterns, and that the development of OCD may have patterns that help illuminate the development of ABDL.

    Gender dysphoria - For non-sexual ABDLs, they seem to describe their little side almost in terms of an identity. When I regress, it's like returning to the role of a young girl temporarily. The possible relationship to gender dysphoria is that ABDLs see themselves in a role different from the "normal" one prescribed by society. Again, not saying that ABDL is directly tied to gender dysphoria, but that it may have similar patterns. Perhaps a different sort of "role dysphoria", in which someone wants to be a baby some or all of the time? I think this would need some research to establish as valid, but it's a neat possible direction. Also, different degrees of ABDL exist (occasional regression vs. wanting to be a baby all the time, like Mr. A in the first study). Different degrees of gender dysphoria also exist, from occasional cross-dressing to going through sexual reassignment surgery and physically becoming the other sex (in line with their true gender). So I wonder if ABDL may be a different sort of dysphoria.

    I think the main future direction for research is the need to look at all sorts of ABDLs, not just the extreme ones as profiled in this study. The problem is, most ABDLs won't want to identify as such for fear of retribution. We're also rare enough that finding a valid sample would spread over a huge area. You'd have to probably use the internet to get a large sample of less extreme ABDLs, and you'd have to have very clear confidentiality standards in place. I think it's a very challenging field but would be a fascinating one to see develop.

    Thanks for posting these - I used to try and research ABDL in college, but since graduating I've lost my database access. I'd love to be able to keep up with the research on this!

  7. #7


    I think this can cause us distress if we are not accepted and it affects us trying to get a relationship and affects our marriage because the other person does not accept it. But should it be a disorder? Being gay used to be and it also caused them distress and still does if they are not accepted by their family. Being transgender is seen as a disorder because of the distress it causes due to not being accepted or understood. But if they live their gender the way they feel, they're fine. Same as we're fine if we are allowed to wear our diapers and live our AB life. I think if it goes too far like that one 35 year old man, then it's a real condition.

  8. #8


    I like your take on this Adventurer, I have some points I would like to add.

    Care needs to be taken with your argument about ABDL being a different sort of dysphoria. I see your point that the emotional 'need' to regress or switch gender could be a negative mental issue, but there are so many reasons why one would do this. I have spoke to a few who engage in regression because they were introduced to it by someone else and feel it is 'fun' but they cannot relate it to past aspects of their lives. They maybe had a partner who was ABDL and found the 'play' surrounding this to be enjoyed. They would then put it from their mind until the next time this came up.

    I do not want to go back to the sexual side, as I respect that not everyone has this side, but if you have spent anytime with people into all kinds of kinks then it becomes clear very quickly that some people just like trying new things. Some of these things stick. An ex-girlfriend of mine now enjoys wearing diapers from time to time, because I introduced her, so in theory she may be considered a DL. However when we have spoke about it, she has no thoughts going back, and has no psychological issues accepting this. For her it something fun and different to do at times. There is no deep and meaningful memory or need, she simply takes it for what it is. What about the people who wear diapers for comfort and do not regress or even wet them? Would it be fair to say they are suffering from something in their mind, or are they just expressing themselves in an odd way?

    It is hard to pinpoint terminology to use for such a vast field, you said yourself there is the non-sexual and sexual sides. I can relate some past experiences back to why I do what I do, so I guess it could be a form of dysphoria for me. But I am content and do not have emotional stresses about it. I think we are too niche a group to ever get a correct 'diagnosis' if one was ever needed.

    Any research in this field will always be hit and miss and divide opinions but it is very interesting to explore. One way could be a questionnaire for people to complete and see why they do things, where the emotions come from, do they suffer depression or anxiety. The problem is if the horny brigade fill them in you will get a lot of 'I want mummy to change me' kind of answers, this will only scupper any attempts to collect real data on the issue. You would also need to assume everyone understands themselves enough to answer truthfully and with authority.

    Enjoying this thread.

  9. #9


    *sigh* Ironically I stumbled across some medical journals about AB/DL syndrome myself some days ago.

    I don't know why, but it's been the first thing that popped up for me, exactly the weirdest thing I could imagine probably. Although I've been looking for certain psychological reports anyway, just different one's actually.

    The name itself for trying to describe this is already absurd... syndrome? Associated with something individual, AB/DL is simply an adjective on one aspect. Makes no sense whatsoever, since those mentioned are certainly characteristics that belong to known disorders. The next thing that pops up in time will surely be an anime syndrome or something similar. However, there is a post anime depression syndrome, but that's only slang for being kind of cast down after finishing a series. ;-)

    Anyway, what I mean is simply that it's grotesque. Since it's more and more common and has a bit of publicity... it's something special all of a sudden. It's just all to familiar with what has been with BDSM over the last decades, or a fetish in general, where diapers usually got sorted into as well. And handled this way, so usually by helping to accept this part and bring it to an acceptable level. At least if you do not need to get rid of it at all as in those examples, but that's another... story.
    So how long has any kind of SM been associated with quite drastic disorders? The practice still carries with it a certain amount of social stigma. It's difficult for people to understand, and for some it can seem downright scary. For individuals who prefer a more vanilla sexual life with no kink, it can seem odd that there are people who want to be whipped, restrained or otherwise disciplined. Equally as disturbing can be imagining oneself being the person who enjoys doing these things to others. For many people the practices associated with sadomasochism can bring up strong reactions, one of them commonly being, "That's dangerous!"
    Even more, most have long had a tendency to view the practice as pathological and even perverted. Common assumptions about people who participate are that they psychologically maladjusted. To a big degree too much people still think that way, you will probably find them around every corner... although mostly we're better off not knowing them anyway, to be honest. ;-)
    Still it took ages for studies like "S&M practitioners are healthier and less neurotic than those with a tamer sex life" to appear finally, or anyway to have this idea to begin with. Although perhaps originally they thought about trying to brand mark it in an unpleasant way and it just backfired.

    It's quite nice to have a study, but what does common sense tell us already? Doing what you like obviously cannot hurt, you only need to know which line you cannot cross. Knowing what it ethically and socially acceptable and what not. Or simply the old golden rule: Regarding love everything is acceptable, as long as everyone who is involved also enjoys it.
    As for asexual reasons what should it matter anyway. A lot of people pick their noses day in and day out, in private. So who cares, or who should? No one, no harm done and their noses - not ours. Our nappies, not theirs. What we like doesn't need to be what they like, but therefore it's nothing special, as long as it has no consequences or rather if it doesn't interfere with anything or anyone around us.

    However, if that line is getting blurry, or if someone lost their relation to reality anyway... what to say, if you're nuts... you're nuts. That's harsh, but fact: Those people obviously need help and if they're able to recognize that themselves, all the better.
    As mentioned, if there's no possibility of stopping any harmful pattern of behaviour, in which way they may ever be, it's OCD. And if individuals lose their perception of what and who they are or lost it already, well what`s that... Dissociative identity disorder.
    Ultimately this is no syndrome that needs it's own case of description or case study. There's nothing to gain.

    Just sayin', a hard-edged point of view in a manner of speaking.

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Calico View Post
    I think this can cause us distress if we are not accepted and it affects us trying to get a relationship and affects our marriage because the other person does not accept it. But should it be a disorder? Being gay used to be and it also caused them distress and still does if they are not accepted by their family. Being transgender is seen as a disorder because of the distress it causes due to not being accepted or understood. But if they live their gender the way they feel, they're fine. Same as we're fine if we are allowed to wear our diapers and live our AB life. I think if it goes too far like that one 35 year old man, then it's a real condition.
    I think there are several issues comparing a sexual orientation and what seems to be often a coping mechanism or lifestyle based on a paraphilia. So I don't think the "well gay used to be considered a disorder..." is particularly convincing on the future of it in studies.

    If we reduce "Adult Baby-ness" as a coping mechanism, one that potentially carries with it a number of negative consequences for individuals, I think most studies would classify it easily as more or less an addiction.

    If we reduce it to a paraphilic lifestyle, it's already on the books: " DSM 5 classifies paraphilic disorder as 'a paraphilia that causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others.'

    So while the majority of AB/DLs are well adjusted, the question comes up what "distress or impairment" is in these cases. Is it because society is judgmental that causes use distress? Or is it because living as an infant to whatever length is inherently detrimental financially and socially overall?

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