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Dr. Phil - Unusaul Syndromes and Fears

This episode of "Dr. Phil" aired 9 March 2012 with an update airing a few months later. While Drs. Phil and Lawlis were a little ambiguous or off-base on some issues, this show documents major progress towards the normalization of ABDLs. It was one of the more balanced representations, although not fully positive.

Brett and Cat

This couple's relationship came across as one-sided. Brett has a business degree and has a retail job to make ends meet. After coming home from work, he can be demanding. Cat feels unfulfilled in the relationship, including sexually, and has cheated on him. "We need to sacrifice with one another. I feel like I sacrifice a lot to be with him, but he needs to sacrifice more to for me." Except for one detail, the conflict would be too common to even be good local call-in radio fodder: Cat wasn't a football widow or on the short end of another monotonously common one-sided relationship: She was mommy to Brett, an adult baby.

Brett said that he wore diapers 24/7, had no sex drive, and wanted to live as a baby. As depicted on the show, Cat serves more as a surrogate mommy than spouse, a germophile that changes his messy diapers. Dr. Phil voiced concerns that Cat's father might have, about her getting sucked into a relationship where the give-and-take with her doing most of the giving..

In general, this was a positive show in that Brett's being an ABDL wasn't necessarily the singular problem being discussed. Any one-sided relationship might be criticized with equal disapproval. However, it was also negative in one sense: The deadbeat boyfriend in this case was an ABDL. Getting in front of the cameras and sharing what he shared took a lot of courage. Appearing fit, reasonably articulate, and employed, Brett defies the usual media ABDL stereotype. After a decade or so of hindsight, he might be seen as just another example of a real archetype: ABDLs are a lot like everyone else, in both the good ways and the bad ways.

To be fair, it is possible that the relationship isn't as one-sided as depicted on the show. Dr. Phil dwelled on her changing diapers, but her cheating on him and him taking her back afterwards was only mentioned briefly.

From the Doctors

Dr. Phil and adviser Dr. Lawlis were respectful and professional. Their first step was to establish that Brett wasn't interested in giving up his interest in diapers and babyhood. Next, Dr. Phil then asked about exhibitionism. Dr. Lawlis echoed that the one ABDL he'd seen before wasn't interested in changing, but was seeking recognition. Depending on the case, clarification (that he wasn't and wouldn't become a pedophile) or validation (that the condition of infantilism exists) might have been a better word. Brett shared that he came on the show to make people aware.

Dr. Phil uses functionality as the main criteria. This is reasonable. The careful listener would have heard his evaluation of Brett as functional - he holds down a job, pays his taxes, etc. In contrast, the relationship is not functional: One partner feels her needs aren't being met. Someone not paying full attention might miss the distinction between the two.

Dr. Phil could have been more clear about another distinction. He comments that Brett's infantilism isn't genetic early in the show, and towards the end he describes it as a choice. Infantilism is a medically-recognized condition, not a choice. However, Brett could have chosen to moderate when and how he expressed his desires. He might not be able to give up diapers, but he could have tried to balance the relationship by compromising between Cat's wants as well as his own.

The Followup

In response to viewer requests, a short followup was taped. The Brett and Cat's relationship as baby and mommy had ended. Brett had received offers from others. One potential caregiver, Bill, appeared on the followup. However, the taping was the first time they'd seen each other.

- Updated:21 April 2013  1st:21 April 2013     

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