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Psychosexual Infantilism in Adults: The eroticization of regression Part 4

Section 4 of Thomas John Speaker's Doctoral dissertation "Psychosexual Infantilism in Adults: The eroticization of regression"

Previously it was stated that both dominance and submission and arousal from wearing diapers are the two main aspects of psychosexual infantilism. Having discussed infantilists' reports regarding the combination of these two aspects, it is now appropriate to look at them separately.

The DSM-III (1980) defines fetishism as a psychosexual disorder of the category Paraphilias:

In other classifications these disorders are referred to as sexual deviations. The term paraphilia is preferable because it correctly emphasizes that the deviation (para) is in that to which the individual is attracted (philia) (APA, 1980, pp. 267-267).

Sarason and Sarason (1984) expand on that definition:

Fetishism, a psychological state in which a non-living object (fetish) serves as a primary source of sexual arousal and consummation, is an example of a sexual deviation that is not usually responded to by the law. Most fetishists are solitary, in their activities, although in some cases they commit crimes to acquire their favorite fetishes (often undergarments, boots and shoes).... Fetishists are almost always male, and the fetish varies widely from the clearly erotic (an article of women's underwear) to objects having little apparent connection with sexuality. Fetishism often begins in adolescence (Sarason & Sarason, p. 203).

DSM-III defines fetishism (302.81):

A. The use of nonliving objects (fetishes) is a repeatedly preferred or exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement.

B. The fetishes are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing (transvestism) or to objects designed to be used for the purpose of sexual stimulation (e.g., vibrators).

Differential diagnosis. Non-pathological sexual experimentation with non-human object, transvestism (APA, Quick Reference, 1980, pp. 151-152).

A European psychiatrist, Christian Scharfetter defines fetishism as "sexual excitement and gratification from substitute objects unsuitable for normal sexual pursuits" and goes on to specifically note "a paedophilic variety, e.g. nappy [diaper] fetishism (Scharfetter, 1980, pp. 265-266).

In most respects psychosexual infantilism is a fetish. The infantilist, by definition, finds diapers sexually arousing. (Only in the most severe cases do infantile objects become "the exclusive method for achieving sexual excitement" (Ibid.).) Lack of a clear definition of when a fetish or other sexual variation becomes pathological has been noted frequently:

The question is what constitutes a fetish and what distinguishes it from normal sex preferences?

In general, the more remote the object of sexual interest is from its original source, the closer we are to fetishism. Likewise, the more exclusive the specific interest in a given part of the anatomy, article of clothing or whatever it may be that has been associated with sexual arousal, the more the interest is in the realm of the pathological and deviant. The man whose interests in female anatomy is focused on the posterior is no more deviant than one whose interests are centered on the breasts. But hair, feet and hands, for example, are already one step removed from the genital area and therefore much closer to fetishism. The same holds true for articles of clothing. Panties, garter belts, brassiers and other items of intimate female attire, which are in direct contact with the genitals, the breasts, or at least the skin, are more "normal" objects of male interest than, say, gloves, hats or handbags.

The degree of fetishism also depends on whether a man is capable of responding sexually to females in the absence of specific stimuli, or whether they are absolutely essential to arousal. This concerns the principal of exclusivity which is, perhaps, the most accurate criterion for sexual deviation that we possess (Kronhausen, 1969, pp. 262-267).

Few infantilists meet the "exclusivity" criterion but the object is variant. (Most infantilists are not pedophiliacs; the diapers are arousing when the infantilists wear them, not when children wear them; therefore Scharfetter's suggestion of "pedophilia" is correct only if one is talking about arousal from childish experiences, not children themselves.)

Dominance and submission (D & S) is the other main aspect of infantilism. In her study of dominant women and submissive men in the San Francisco area, Scott (1983) identified two types of personality for each sex: the naturals and the balancers. Naturals "carry over there everyday orientation into their D & S activities; those whose orientation is the opposite of their D & S role, we call balancers" (Scott, pp. 7-8). This type of classification works for infantilists as well. She describes balancers this way:

Most males involved in the D & S scene are balancers. In their everyday lives, they project the image of the typical, well-socialized American male - outwardly strong, outgoing, and assertive, and frequently quite successful in a responsible, high level job. Yet these generally assertive males enjoy sexual submission, finding the unusualness of assuming a passive role in the power exchange to be erotic. Some of these males want to be women, but most combine sexual submissiveness with the traditional male role in their relationships with women. Thus they clearly distinguish between occasional sexual submission and other parts of their relationships and lives....

In short, male balancers find many different sexual and psychic pleasures in being submissive and there are many ways in which being submissive balances their otherwise aggressive nature. Yet, even as they seek this submission, they do not give up their power or will completely, for they may have a specific agenda for being submissive in a certain way, or may only fantasize being submissive. To achieve this end they may more or less surreptitiously manipulate a dominant woman into enabling them to be submissive in the way they wish (Ibid., pp. 8-9).

In explanation of why balancers enjoy D & S, Scott specifically describes infantilists:

Other male balancers find still other sources of satisfaction in occasional submission, such as reexperiencing childhood cravings by being mothered, protected or nurtured by a beautiful woman; acting like a little boy again, or expressing worshipful feelings to a woman, as they did when boys. Some like the chance to express the normally repressed side of their natures (Ibid., p. 10).

...males who like being mothered or babied say they felt this need as children because they did not have enough love or mothering, or because they found a disciplinary action involving babying, such as being put in diapers as a teenager, both embarrassing and erotic (Ibid., p. 23).

The balancers type of infantilist is one who has grown up quite capable of performing at an adult level of responsibility but seeks a return to boyhood for reasons which have come to be eroticized. Balancers are a type of infantilist previously described as "time travelers":

For these people infantilism is just as much a coping mechanism as it is a fetish. They are not fixated at a certain level; but rather behave as 'time-travelers' alternating between functioning at an adult level (managing careers, families, relationships, etc.) and functioning at an infantile level (wearing diapers, wetting, using a baby bottle). Sexual infantilism behavior is compartmentalized, being a behavior that is engaged in only in certain times and situations when it seems "appropriate". There is a conscious decision as to whether to have an infantile experience or not, whether the motivation is sexual pleasure or as coping mechanism (Speaker, 1980, p. 72).

Scott describes the naturals quite differently:

In contrast to the male balancers, who are submissive only sporadically, some men feel they are passive by nature and want to be submissive in all respects of their lives. They seek relationships in which their submissiveness extends beyond the bedroom. Some of these natural submissives pretend to be assertive in their jobs or with other males, while others are passive or submissive in their everyday lives. In contrast to the balancers, these men are submissive to both women and to people generally, because of their shyness or social ineptness. Often, such men have feelings of uncertainty or inferiority because they are aware that they are not conforming to the traditional male role.

Some natural submissives choose D & S because they have difficulty in relating to women or because they lack social skills. They feel it will be easier for them to succeed with women if they let women take the lead. The strategy does not always work because their lack of social skills may lead dominant women to reject them, too. But such men believe they will be more successful if they don't have to take the traditional male initiative, find the D & S scene erotic and occasionally gain some attention; so they persevere. Other natural submissives seek out strong, powerful women as a way of compensating for their own feelings of uncertainty and inferiority. By looking up to dominant women or identifying with them, they feel more personally worthwhile (Scott, p. 10).

A minority of infantilists fit the concept of the natural, and these people lean toward the more extreme aspects of the fetish. James, a 26 year old male, divorced once because his wife could no longer support his obsession with infantilism, has married a second time. His new wife will not indulge his infantilistic fantasies so James has sought another person to dominate him:

I now go to a friend of mine. He's gay and I have spent a few days with him now and again. He is very strict and makes me do all sorts of things I never dreamed of. He often gives me a [urine] enema and then makes me wear one of his dirty diapers and [rubber] pants from the time I arrive until the time I leave so that I have to mess them even more. He feeds me loads and loads of baby food laced with laxatives.

He will often fuck me. I've never considered myself as gay, but I've begun to enjoy it now. In fact, I'm going to stay for a few days [soon].... (James, personal correspondence, May 20, 1985).

James is obviously a natural infantilist - he has never developed adult social skills or a healthy self-esteem and is obsessed with spending as much time as possible in a very regressed state of existence regardless of the consequences (e.g. his divorce). Balancers seem less obsessed, for, the most part, and more able to be discrete about their infantile activities. Will, a 37 year old, married program manager, has a wife who is also not interested in infantilism although they have "an arrangement"). He has a covert relationship with another woman involving infantilism, but is realistic (and discrete) about it.

Our relationship has developed into a love affair in which diapers and plastic pants figure freely and frequently...and at last I am, experiencing a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment such as I have only dreamt of before. We both know that my an marriage, and especially my children, are particularly important to me and therefore it [the affair] cannot last, but in the meantime it is filling a variety of needs in both of us. (Will, personal correspondence, August 29, 1985).

One can argue that those rare women infantilists also can be divided into natural and balancer categories. Julie, a 25 year old lesbian, was enuretic from age 9 to 15, and, in adolescence, "realized I had grown attached to diapers...". She describes a typical day:

8:30 A.M., wake up in wet diapers. I get out of bed, put some milk in a baby bottle and return to my bedroom where I suck on my bottle while doing my stretching exercises. This makes me very hot and I begin to masturbate through the diapers. This takes about 30 minutes. Then I hop in the shower...[afterward] I put on dry diapers and plastic pants. I get dressed in my adult clothes and drive to school. (Under my dress no one can tell what I've got on.) School gets out at 3:00 P.M.. I have to kill 2 hours before work so I go shopping or something. Then I work (I am a bartender) until 2 A.M. By the time I get home I am so tired I don't even change my diaper, just go to bed (Julie, personal correspondence, April 28, 1982).

Julie says:

What I want is another female who enjoys the feelings of [wearing] diapers so that we may share all.... I have had lesbian lovers before but none felt like they could deal with [infantilism] and it hurt me very much.... I want to be able to wear my diapers anytime I want without feeling guilty and upset. Why can't people understand and make me feel at home and at ease with what I do? (Ibid.)

Julie is a natural infantilist, a woman whose submissiveness and interest in the fetish courses through every aspect of her life. She is very different, in attitude and lifestyle, from Jenny, a 29 year old heterosexual in a relationship with Bill, who is also an infantilist. Jenny is a balancer:

I never [had sex involving diapers] until I met my present love. He has made me aware of the new, exciting things diaper wearers experience.... It makes our, sexual relationship much more exciting (Jenny).

She wears diapers "3-5 times a month", is usually dominant ("I would be a mommy and put my boy [Bill] in diapers... ") and sometimes submissive ("I want to be forced to wear diapers and drink out of a bottle for a whole weekend.") in her relationships with Bill (Ibid.). Jenny alternates between adult and infantilist roles, and between dominant and submissive in infantilism. This flexibility and change is a hallmark of the balancer.

Whether "natural" or "balancer" there is a drive to involve partners in acting out fantasies in infantilists. Those fantasies range from the simple (and perhaps attainable) to the complex, intense scripts for which enactment is highly unlikely. Stephen, a 35 year old married professional, provides an example of the former. He said he wears diapers and plastic pants daily and reports his wife is supportive of his fantasies, going so far as to agree to wear plastic pants herself on occasion during foreplay. Stephen's fantasy is to "increase the mothering" he gets from her (she becomes dominant) or have her participate more fully ("become a baby girl (submissive) he could 'look after'). His ultimate fantasy is a combination of the two: "playing with a girl... in diapers like me". Stephen fears "going too far too quickly with my wife" and possibly alienating her (and ending her willingness to participate in acting it out). Differences between current behavior and ultimate fantasy are primarily a matter of degree and he is sensitive to her desires on this matter (primarily to minimize risks of a backlash).

The greater the variance between current behavior and ultimate fantasy, the less probable is participation of sexual partner. (Remember that "lack of opportunity" was given as the primary reason for not acting out fantasies.) Sexual partners are often quite reluctant to play the roles desired by the fantasizer. Patrick, a 43 year old married male asked his wife "on a couple of occasions... to participate [in infantilism] by shaving [my pubic hair] and diapering me". She refused, noting, "if I had wanted a baby or a little boy I would not have gotten married, I would have gotten pregnant". (Patrick later tried his fantasies on his children ("I used diapers to punish my children and... she found out" and filed for divorce.))

The resistance of partners to playing out these fantasies is so common it is even described in infantilist fantasy. In Closet Baby an author describes a wife's discovery of her husband's infantilism and her reactions:

We had been married for nearly two years when I first discovered my husband's interest in infantilism. While doing some spring cleaning, I was going through the dresser drawers to discard old and worn out clothes. In the back of one drawer beneath a pile of seldom worn sweaters I discovered a pile of clippings from magazines dealing with diaper discipline and adults who derived sexual excitement from dressing and acting like infants. There were also articles on bedwetting and advertisements for adult-sized cloth and disposable diapers, rubber and plastic incontinent pants and other items for incontinent adults. I also found three pairs of diaper pins, two latex pacifiers and a large plastic baby bib.

At first I didn't know what to make of my discovery, but, after reading a number of the clippings I realized that my husband was a "closet" baby like a number of people described in the articles. My first reaction was one of shock and anger. I could not understand why anyone would enjoy dressing in diapers and wetting them I and I also resented him for not being honest and open with me.

For some reason, though, I returned the collection to its hiding place and determined not to say anything about my discovery until I had time to think the matter through.

During the days ahead after he'd left for work I read and re-read the articles he had hidden in the drawer. As I read I began to realize that the inclination to dress and to be treated as an infant was more common among adults than I had ever realized. Also, the more I thought about it, I realized how difficult and embarrassing it must be for someone to reveal their infantile interests to another adult, even (and maybe, especially) to one's spouse.

One of the articles that I read was a letter by a woman describing how she had made a similar discovery of her husband's infantile tendencies. She explained how she finally decided to handle the situation by purchasing diapers and plastic panties. When her husband returned home one evening, she showed him her purchases and proceeded to undress and diaper him on the spot. She reported that her initiative had greatly enhanced their love life and her husband's love for her.

After thinking about this for a long time I decided to take a similar approach. I felt that Bob had such a strong desire to be babied, and he evidently did, then I wanted him to be happy. I also wanted him to be able to be fully open with me, even about this special need of his.

I decided from the very. beginning that if he wanted to be a big baby, he would have to do it all the way and permit me to take full control of the situation the way any "Momma" would.

Some of the babies in the articles had regressed to a totally infantile state, remaining at home in diapers all the time. I did not think that Bob would want this, and I certainly did not want to I assume both the role of provider and parent for a physically healthy and capable adult male.

Instead, I decided that he would become a part-time baby. I would baby him at night and on weekends and whenever possible in the privacy of our home. But he would continue to dress and to function as a competent adult at work, in the neighborhood and with most of our friends.

After shopping carefully for the necessary items, I waited until the next Friday evening to confront him. I took care not to make any social commitments for the weekend, because I wanted to make certain I had the entire time free for his initiation....

... still holding him tightly, I tried to reassure him. "It's all right, darling", I whispered, "I only wish that you could have confided in me long ago, but now Mama knows and her baby boy is going to be just fine". As I held him and continued talking to him, I could feel him begin to relax...

When I finished with the powder I took the diaper and instructed him to raise his hips so I could slide it under him. Having done that I took the baby lotion and began to apply it liberally over his entire diaper area. As I smoothed it on his erect penis, I took great care not to trigger a climax. I then brought the diaper's thickness up between his legs, smoothed it across his stomach and pinned it snuggly at the hips. He made no attempt to resist as I guided his feet into the leg openings of the plastic panties and slid them up his legs to encase the bulky diapers.

As I adjusted the elastic waistband to carefully enclose his diapers I said, "This is what Mama's baby is going to wear for nighty-night all the time and do wettums in. After tonight we are going to put baby's hard little peter into Mama first so that it will be nice and soft when we diaper you for bed. But tonight is special... ".

I had initially planned to keep him in diapers the entire weekend, but then decided that a more gradual approach might be more effective. I feared that day long diapering in the very beginning might make him defensive and overly resistant to the training program I had planned. Besides, I knew that a more gradual transformation would be easier for me to manage, and more enjoyable to witness.

When morning dawned my new baby was very, very wet. Even though he had accepted the diapers eagerly and proceeded to wet them, I could tell that it would take a while for him to become completely accustomed again to sleeping through the night undisturbed by his warm wetness. I knew that would come eventually, after which I planned to retrain him into full night-time incontinence. I realized from what I had read that adults who are turned on by wearing and wetting diapers harbor a desire to revert to a passive infantile dependence upon their diapers, being incontinent, at least in their sleep. The idea of having him so dependent upon his diapers and upon me to attend to his infantile needs was surprisingly exciting to me.... (Wetmore, 1984, pp. 1-3).

This story presents all the elements of an infantilist's fondest wishes regarding his partner's participation. The heroine overcomes a negative first impression to become the dominant in the sexual relationship encouraging his wearing of diapers, even "training" him to do so and to become enuretic. Certainly some. spouses will assume similar roles, e.g. Jenny's dominance over Bill. But for most infantilists, expression of a male's wish to be dominanted into diapers resulted in a "turning off" of spouses or) sexual partners. Several men reported termination of relationships because of their preferences. Sonny, a 41 year old _gay male said, "several lovers (male and female) have been turned off (by the wearing of diapers)" (emphasis his). John said he was "caught once [wearing diapers] by a girlfriend and lost her". Patrick felt his infantilism had brought him "separation and pending divorce". Personal, as well as relationship problems are aggravated by infantilism:

It has made me feel guilty, shy and withdrawn (Lee).

I still do not feel it is entirely right (Bill).

(Bill's girlfriend Jenny, the only woman responding to the survey: "My lover and I have difficulties expressing ourselves to each other".) In Closet Baby the husband does not have to tell his wife of his preferences - she finds out on her own. Most infantilists have to explain their desires and requests to their partner in order to gain cooperation. This "coming out of the closet" process is well described in studies of homosexuality (e.g. Clark, 1977, PP. 60-69). Scott (1983) describes the process in dominance and submission enthusiasts, and the frequent negative outcomes:

Most of these efforts to share with girlfriends or wives were unsuccessful, regardless of the tactfulness or gentleness of the man's approach. Often the women were completely unreceptive and thought the request weird, strange or sick. Then the men usually dropped the topic to preserve the relationship, though they continued to practice privately, go to mistresses, or seek out others with similar interests. For example, when Lester, the computer programmer who liked dressing up [transvestism], being whipped and being forced to do things, asked his wife if she might like to try some of these activities, she told him that such play was sick. So he got a post office number, kept a box of clothes in his car, answered some ads, joined some D & S organizations, and participated in female dominance activities in these groups of in short-term relationships about once a week. For him, the only solution was a double life.

Some women refused because the men were inept in presenting their interest and were too direct or revealed their own ambivalence about participating in D & S and thus turned off their partner. Or the male was too demanding in wanting the woman to respond to his desires right away, before developing a solid, secure, loving and caring relationship. Had these women been more gradually introduced, some might have ultimately been receptive.

In many cases, women refused because they found it difficult to play the dominant role. One common reason is that many women by nature or socialization learn to be submissive - and few have the strong sexual fantasies males Shave to express another side of their nature. Thus, frequently, women were willing to experiment when asked by their partner, but they weren't very good at being dominant. Typically, they performed as their man requested, but did not enjoy the dominant role. As a result, their efforts to please or humor their partner were unsuccessful, since the males could enjoy their submissiveness only if the woman if was being truly dominant and liking it. If a woman couldn't really "get into it", neither could her partner (Scott, p. 18).

Age plays a role in determining whether men want to introduce variations into their primary relationship or act out fantasies outside of that relationship:

The younger single men in their 20's and 30's are usually more interested than the older males in having a series of shifting relationships to experiment with a variety of people. They have relatively good success in doing so, much as they might in the straight heterosexual scene....

However, as men enter their 40's and 50's, they tend to become more interested in settling down to a more serious, ongoing, even exclusive relationship and exploring D & S within this more secure, personal context (Ibid., p. 28).

Attempts to involve partners in infantilism activities are not necessarily in vain. The relationship of Bill and Jenny is just such an example with each describing the frequency of wearing diapers as "often". James, who said infantilism led to a divorce, described his first wife's participation in infantilism for 4 years:

When I was twenty I met a girl called Pamela. She was very kind and sweet to me. After a long courtship I kept evading the issue of getting married because I wanted to tell her about my needs, to be treated as a baby, etc. . We had, up to then, a reasonable sex life but something was missing in it for me.

She knew that a particular pair of her panties turned me on. They were of a transparent nylon material. As a joke one night I said, "I have bought you a pair of panties I hope you like." She said, "OK. Fine. Surprise me. " I was really frightened to get them out of the bag, but finally produced an extra large pair of crystal clear plastic baby pants.

Much to my surprise and relief she laughed in a nice way and said she had better put them on. After taking her regular panties off she slipped, a the plastic pants up and over her hips. I was really shaking at the time. I was thrilled when I saw her crotch and fanny through the plastic. After massaging her through them for awhile, we then had a terrific lovemaking session.

She wore them for me many times after that.... [Later] we added to the [plastic panty] collection. Some were rubber, some had frilly nylon ruffles outside but lined with plastic. She would wear them while we were out dancing or at a party. Sometimes we cut a hole so that I could make love to her while she wore them. I was blissfully happy. Shortly afterwards we were married.

On our honeymoon I plucked up the courage to tell her that I wanted to be dressed as a baby and have her dressed the same. I also told her I wanted to mess my diaper and pants and would like her to do the same. She was very, very kind about it, and took it very calmly. I didn't know what her reaction might be, but she didn't seem to mind at all. She was a little worried about soiling her diaper and pants. She also said she knew I was holding something back from her.

That night we made loads of plans about when we got home to our house. We would set up a room as a nursery. Given the chance I would have dressed up as a baby that night but we only brought one pair of her plastic panties with us. We had a very good honeymoon; as you can imagine I was so happy at the prospect of what was to follow. While walking around the stores she would point at bibs, pants, bonnets, etc., or say "I must get you one of those dummies [pacifiers]" or "we'll need more diapers". It really thrilled me. It was our secret. Later she would talk to friends in front of me saying "Are terrycloth diapers best or disposable diapers?" or "What plastic pants do you recommend?".

When we got home from the honeymoon, that same night I showed her my rather small collection of pants, diapers, bibs, bottles, books, photos, dummies, etc.. She was amazed at how much I had. She told me to go upstairs, get undressed and lay on the bed. For the first time here was my very one wife baby powdering me and pinning 2 large diapers over my very swollen [penis]. Then she pulled some adult-sized plastic pants I had over the diaper. She tied a plastic bib on me and stuck a dummy in my mouth. I was told to lay down while she made me a baby bottle of juice. I was on cloud 9.... She came back, put the rubber teat into my mouth and told me to suck the bottle empty. While I was doing this she rubbed my cock until I came again. Finally I was made to wet myself while she watched, the yellow stain gradually obliterating the white of the diaper. I was then put to bed for the night. She would keep patting my plastic-covered bottom until I drifted off to sleep (which was difficult as I was so excited).

A few days later she said that when I was being a baby I could wetland soil in my diaper and pants. I wasn't to use a potty or the toilet at all.* I didn't need any encouragement and after crawling around on the floor with thick diapers and plastic pants in full view, I soiled myself.... After I finished she came over, massaged my bottom and spread the diaper's contents all around. Then I had my plastic-covered butt spanked. I was taken to the spare bedroom (which hadn't yet been made into a nursery) and was put to bed on a rubber sheet. I had to stay there... until morning. Because of the very messy state I was in I was told to change myself and clean up. Afterwards I was ordered to wash my own diaper and pants by hand.

* Note the dominance he ascribes to his wife: she made him wet; he was not to use the toilet.

A month later we bought a large old cot [crib] which was big enough for me. I also made a highchair with tray, and got a playpen. I spent the next few days decorating the room into a nursery with baby-print curtains to match.

My wife and I discovered various other baby clothes for me.... {We ordered many such items such as romper suits, baby nightdresses, bibs, bonnets, booties, etc., mainly made of rubber or plastic (although we did get cloth material as well).

I spent many hours in that room in my playpen, cot or highchair. I was fed only baby food, or bottles of milk or juice most weekends. For nearly four years I spent most weekends and other times dressed as a baby, always wetting or messing my diapers. My wife decided to make sure I did by introducing laxatives in my baby food or giving me enemas... before diapering me. Once, when I really upset her, she made me stay in a dirty diaper for nearly a week.

She would occasionally wear diapers and plastic pants and, be a baby with me, but only on a very few occasions did she wet or, soil her diapers. One day I was out in the back garden and she walked out with a bulky diaper and plastic panties showing as she wore only a miniskirt. The diaper was noticeably hanging low at the back.... It really got me going.

Sometime later she introduced butt-plugs and dildoes which she often used on me and herself either under diapers or just plastic pants.

It all changed one night. She was downstairs about 2 A.M. I came down to see her and found her crying. After a little while she told me she didn't want to stay anymore and that she now hated the baby scene. My world was shattered after about 6 months when she left. Two years later we got divorced.

I then had about 5 years on my own.... I lived and slept as a baby.

I met my second wife about 7 years ago. I tried to tell her about my needs, but she wasn't interested at all. She wore a diaper and plastic pants once with me; I've never been able to wear them in front of her since. We have a poor sex life now. As I cannot indulge myself now unless she is away I now go to a friend of mine. He's gay and I have spent a few days with him now and again. He is very strict and makes, me do all sorts of things I never dreamed of.... (James, personal correspondence, May 20, 1985).

It is clear that psychosexual infantilism covers a wide range of behaviors from occasional arousal at the thought of wearing diapers or 'being babied' all the way to pathological sexual lifestyles such as James'. It is amazing that James found a partner willing, to cooperate with such an extreme fantasy. The vast majority of subjects replied to the survey question that finding willing partners was difficult and that revealing their desires to a partner was damaging to the relationship. Other reports on infantilism, even in the porn press, confirm this. In a description of the marriage of Barb, a dominant woman, and Jerry, an infantilist, Barb discussed joining a correspondence club for infantilists, Adult Baby World and what happened afterward:

Barb has written or talked on the phone to some 50 male infantilists. She says most of them are desperate to find women who'll understand them and give them the special mothering they crave.

After I joined the club, I couldn't believe how many people were into infantilism!" Barb exclaims. "I learned there are a lot more men than women. Unfortunately, I don't think many of the men are going to find understanding wives or girlfriends. Most women are turned off by guys who like being treated like babies. That's too bad, because getting into infantilism has done wonders for our sex life. Our marriage is much better than fit would be otherwise. And it could be that way for other couples where the man is an adult baby." (Gregory, 1984, p. 60).

Although ?Barb and Jerry" reportedly came to a satisfactory arrangement it required the assistance of a psychiatrist:

After she'd been married to Jerry for two years, "I went to a psychiatrist for awhile," she reveals, "because Jerry seemed so obsessed with the whole baby thing that I became confused. I began asking myself, ?Do I turn him on, or do those diapers turn him on?" He was wearing diapers more and more - sometimes even under his clothes!"

I even had Jerry go to the psychiatrist once. He was glad to do it because he wanted me to know that Jerry's mother had made him wear diapers until he was ten years old because he had been a bed-wetter. Eventually they became erotic to him.

After I talked to the psychiatrist a few times, I understood Jerry more than I had before, and I feel better about the whole thing now.... (Ibid, p. 61).

Barb's discussion of infantilism brings up two important points: the ratio of men to women and causal factors in the development of infantilism. The respondents to the 1985 survey included 26 men and 1 woman; the 1980 survey included 11 men and 1 woman. 1 The difference has been noticed by clinicians studying a number of sexual variations including fetishism (e. g. Scharfetter: "Fetishism occurs mostly in men, in both heterosexual and homosexual forms."). A variety of reasons for this situation have been proposed. Some authors attribute it to a greater inhibition in women resulting in lower rates of sexual fantasy:

The factor of inhibition (mental blocking) is especially important with regard to women. They report, as a group, considerably fewer sexual fantasies than men. But they are, as a group, "less" in just about every category of sexological measurement, such as frequency of masturbation, premarital and extramarital sex experiences, and response to erotic literature and art. Their lesser proneness to fantasize about sexual matters is therefore not surprising and should not, in any case, be taken as an indication of lesser potential in all these respects, but as an indication of a considerably greater degree of inhibition and repression (Kronhausen & Kronhausen, p. xiv).

In recent years women have been encouraged to develop sexual fantasies in order to better understand their own sexual responses. Permission to fantasize seems to be particularly well received when it comes from female sex therapists (e.g. Dodson, n.d.; Barbach, 1975; and Raley, 1976). The Kronhausens' view that lack of reports of sexual fantasies in women is due to a learned inhibition has been borne out by more recent research. Barbach reports:

A study done by Schmidt and Sigusch with "relatively sexually emancipated" and sexually experienced college students at the University oft Hamburg showed no significant difference between the responses of young men and young women to erotic material, both visual and written, although over all the men reported feeling slightly more aroused than the women (Barbach, p. 76; Schmidt & Sigusch, 1971).

Women, today, are receiving permission and encouragement to fantasize and it is likely that the rates of sexual fantasy in women will approach those of men in the future (See Durden-Smith & De Simone, 1982, pt. 6, pp. 240-242). For both men and women, having a fantasy is often separate from the desire to act that fantasy out:

Having a fantasy does not mean you will want to act it out in reality. As a matter of fact, in women's groups we have found that by giving women "permission" to enjoy and indulge their fantasizing abilities, they actually become less afraid that they will act out these impulses unless they consciously choose to do so (Barbach, p. 79).

It is in the nature of sex fantasies that they are, to a large extent, so unrealizable that they are seldom acted upon. And that is exactly their theraputic function. They serve as mental aphrodisiacs and psychological stimulants, underlying "normal" behavior (Kronhausen & Kronhausen, p. xii).

Our original definition of psychosexual infantilism, however, requires acting out these fantasies using the 'props' to which an erotic response becomes conditioned: diapers. Sexual responses, particularly those responses involved in non-reproductive sex, are learned:

We feel that the object chosen is learned and represents one facet of the habit component of sexual behavior (Whalen, 1966, p. 161).

More recent research has corroborated this theory:

In approaching the more causal factor in fetishism we may again note that many stimuli can come to be associated with sexual excitation and gratification. Probably most people are stimulated to some degree by intimate articles of clothing and by perfume and odors associated with the opposite sex. Thus the first prerequisite in fetishism seems to be a conditioning experience. In some instances this original conditioning may be quite accidental, as when sexual arousal and orgasm - which are reflexive responses - are elicited by a strong emotional experience involving some particular object or part of the body. More commonly, probably, the conditioning occurs during masturbation fantasies (Coleman, Butcher & Carson, 1980, pp. 556-657)*

* See also Rachman, 1966; and Rachman & Hodson, 1968.

Psychosexual infantilism is dependent upon a combination of objects and behaviors from infancy and sexual pleasure. Diapers were present during early orgasmic experiences of all but 6 of 27 survey respondents. Of these 6, one-third (2) were 'taught' infantilism by a lover or significant other including the one female respondent. The combination of diapers and orgasm are less likely in girls: whereas girls begin masturbation earlier than boys, more boys than girls masturbate:

Estimates range from one-half of all male and one-third of all female adolescents to 95 percent of the males and 66 percent of the females - a report based on a college sample... . Boys not only masturbate more frequently than girls, they seem to enjoy it more (Sommer, 1978, p. 156).

The other component of psychosexual infantilism, diapers, would seem to be equally available to both boys and girls. Girls are more likely to be involved in childcare, either in the care of younger siblings or babysitting for others. Boys, on the other hand, are much more likely to be enuretic or encopretic and therefore more likely to be using diapers or incontinence garments, even into adolescence:

Among 7 year olds, an estimated 21.9 percent of the boys and 15.5 percent of the girls are enuretic, compared with only 3 percent of the boys and 1.7 percent of the girls at age 14... about 2.3 percent of 8 year old boys and 0.7 percent of 8 year old girls. are encopretic.... About 1/3 of encopretic children are also enuretic (Coleman, butcher & Carson, p. 510).

Nine of the 27 respondents reported enuresis problems resulting in diapering at night after age 3; 6 of these also were diapered during the day. Children are capable of sexual response in infancy when both sexes are likely to be wearing diapers:

I had two daughters who masturbated and two who did not. I really didn't do anything either to teach them or to restrict them. Both my girls who masturbated were well into masturbation by the time they were 9 months old. They were on their tummies with their hands between their legs. They would get the same kind of tension I get in my legs when I have an orgasm. It was very obvious, with their hands down in their diapers. I let my kids be nude a lot so they didn't always have a diaper on to restrict the touching ("Robin" in Hill, 1976, p. 42).

Yet infantilism, except in natural infantilists, seems to involve regressive experiences occurring during adolescence. Of those infantilists with bladder control attained before adolescence, all except one began wearing diapers by choice. (One was diapered by a maid as punishment for misbehavior.)

Recall Scott's report of infantilists explaining the fetish:

...males who like being mothered or babied say they felt this need because they did not have enough love or mothering [and regressed to, recapture what they missed] or because they found a disciplinary action involving babying, such as being put into diapers as a teenager, both embarrassing and erotic (Scott, p. 23).

Either regression or disciplinary action which involves the use of diapers during adolescence can pair diapers with erotic feelings and encourage the development of infantilism. Yet the model of fetish development discussed thus far does not clearly explain why fetishists are almost exclusively male or how the fetish, is maintained after adolescence.* Within the past few years, however, a more holistic model, which correlates better with both clinical and self reports, has appeared.

* See also Speaker, 1980, pp. 63-73.

Gosselin and Wilson (1980) have advanced the theory of the fetishist as both the script-writer, and lead actor in a fantasy play. Their theory, especially in the discussion of the roles of predisposition and learning in fetish development, provide a clearer explanation for the differences in the rates of fetishes among males and females.

According to Gosselin and Wilson personality plays a role in the predisposition for fetish acquisition:

Our personality studies have shown that variants in general tend to be more introverted than people whose sexual behavior is more conventional. Introverts are more easily conditioned than extroverts; they are more sensitive to stimuli and acquire stronger emotional associations. Therefore, they are perhaps more likely to turn on to sexual association (remember that the variant generally has more fantasies than the average individual and fantasies grow well in the soil of associations and images), but the more conventional sexual associations probably get "blocked off" by parental or societal injunctions. Learning thus plays an especially important part in the development of the variant's script, and the process by which it occurs must be described in some detail - even if only because it is the question most frequently asked by variants themselves (Gosselin & Wilson, p. 157).

They also propose that 2 aspects of gender, sensitivity for visual stimuli and awareness of arousal, heavily influence the probability of fetish development:

Fetishism has about it a particular element which makes it stand out from conventional behavior: its visual focus. A fetish object, fabric or garment usually cries with considerable force, "Look at me!" [e.g. "a bulky diaper and plastic pants" covering the genitals,, especially on an older child].... Now a number of studies in perception have suggested that men are more sensitive to visual stimuli than women: as a result they might be more likely to, pick up and internalize a stimulus that by its nature obtrudes upon the consciousness under circumstances in which it might otherwise not be noticed...

Much initial learning seems to follow the model of classical conditioning, to which the variant appears more susceptible than the nonvariant. Classical conditioning occurs when the stimulus to be learned and reacted to is paired with another stimulus which already has an emotional accompaniment. Repeated pairing allies the reaction originally associated with the old stimulus to the new one. However, for any pairing to take place... the stimulus has to be noticed...

A second factor which may predispose men more than women toward acquiring a fetish (or, indeed, toward acquiring almost any form of variant behavior as well as a conventional sex partner) involves the mechanism of biofeedback. Biofeedback is the summation of all messages, small and large, that the body sends back to the brain as to what it is doing and what it feels...

When it comes to information about whether we are aroused or not, males (even when very young) have a very good biofeedback amplifier, namely, their own penises. No particular part of a woman's body, sex organs or otherwise, gives such an immediate, definite and noticeable reaction; any reaction she does have to arousal is more diffuse occurring in the clitoris, the vagina, the nipples, the back, the earlobes and almost any erogenous zone. Because the reaction is more diffuse and less predictable, it is more easily overlooked, and the clear message of "I am excited" does not as easily register in her conscious mind. Of course it may do so eventually in the sense that a woman's learning may be slower but more general, leading her to being turned on by a situation such as "a romantic atmosphere and a considerate man" while the male would be more likely to be aroused by the more defined image of, say, a nineteen-year-old blonde in black stockings and garters. It is also well to remember that the arousal produced by stimulus messages received by the woman is somewhat more susceptible to hormonal influences which can heighten or lessen her receptivity and thereby alter the efficacy of the learning process.

The other concept that must be understood in this context is that of arousal. It is quite possible that as far as the learning process is concerned the arousal which occurs as the result of environmental or random internal stimulation need not be directly sexual at all, but may be just the general state of being awake or aware, which can change from minute to minute. To some extent the body, as opposed to the mind, has difficulty in distinguishing one form of arousal from another; as a result, any strong emotion can be translated in the mind, under appropriate conditionings, into sexual arousal, which is nearly always judged pleasant (Ibid. pp. 158-160).

Males, then, develop fetishes more often than females because of a biological predisposition. Given these predispositions, acquisition of the fetish follows the classical conditioning model developed by Rachman (1966). Gosselin and Wilson use a rubber fetish to demonstrate:

At some point, the young child is at a high level of arousal. This high arousal can occur purely fortuitously, in the way that every parent has seen happen when a child switches his mood for no better reason than his chemical switches happen to be set that way at the moment. On the other hand, the arousal peek may be due to anger, discomfort, pleasure, warmth, security, mother-being-absent, or mother-taking-active-interest (and, incidentally, this is probably why no experience common to all can be said to initiate the learning of a fetish: it isn't always feeding, bathtime, bedwetting or spanking, it's anything that goes with high arousal). At that moment, there is also present an element of the fetish-material-to-be: [diapers], apron, baby pants, crib sheet, mackintosh-as-shield-from-rain-and-cold. The male child notices the stimulus more readily than the female and connects it with the high arousal state, which may or may not have any direct sexual connotations about it but in any case is recorded in the genital area by a minor tumescence. The message recorded merely says at this stage, "Possible link between that material and that excited feeling. " The youngster is in fact making a miniature scientific hypothesis that certain qualities in a fabric are associated with a particular feeling.

When the fabric turns up again, the child remembers the previous association and says, in effect, "Let me test my hypothesis by searching for that feeling." If he notices no excitement, his verdict will be, "not proven, but my hypothesis still may be right", simply because nobody likes to admit, even to themselves, that they are wrong. If he does feel excitement - even coincidentally, or because he expected it and therefore he felt it - his verdict is that the hypothesis has been proved. An expectancy is thus strengthened that "next time it will work the same way" and confirmation is almost bound to be obtained on subsequent occasions because the reaction becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

During this testing process, the male child will notice that his penis is almost certainly the best place from which to pick up a message concerning his excited state. The female child, failing to feel such a definite and localized response, is more likely to dismiss the connection between fetish object and arousal state even if she has noticed the possibility of such an association in the first place. As a result, she forgets the whole thing, and the fetish script is never properly read, let alone learned.

Whether the male child regards the feeling in his penis as sexual, in the sense that he knows what the word means, is at this stage irrelevant. The point is that later, when overtly sexual stimuli produce virtually the same feeling in his penis, he will classify the fetishistic association as a sexual one even if the original association had nothing sexual about it whatever (Ibid. pp. 161-162).

It is interesting to note that survey respondents in their 40's and 50's prefer cloth diapers and rubber pants; those in their 20's and 30's prefer cloth diapers and plastic pants; reports are heard of younger infantilists preferring adult disposable diapers. Infantilists fixate on the style of baby clothes they wore, not what was in style during adolescence or later.

One could ask why every male is not a fetishist? Gosselin and Wilson answer that every person learns a multitude of scripts which are tried out in "a directly sexual context" during adolescence (Ibid.). The variant scripts only become prominent was more conventional scripts area blocked:

As the child grows up, he may receive messages from his parents, potential partners or anyone who he believes to be influential in his life, to the effect that the usual target for his genital feelings (i.e. the female per se, and particularly here vagina) is forbidden, naughty or wicked, or dirty, or unmentionable or in some other way not to be approached. Now, because he is more easily conditioned than most he takes these messages seriously and believes in them more easily: because of his higher emotionality, his attempts to disobey the messages lead to powerful anxiety and guilt associated with his arousal. In seeking to obtain sexual pleasure when aroused, he may therefore remember that the fetish fabric gave pleasure without interaction with the female. He therefore reaches for the mackintosh, [diaper] or whatever he can find that is similar and naturally receives no off-putting message about "forbidden sexual object" because inanimate objects don't transmit any message - except that this one "produces arousal as it always did, purely by conditioning. Orgasm then results, confirming that, for that boy, having a makintosh is better than having a girl since it produces less anxiety and more pleasure. Without the presence of girls who can produce alternative hypotheses to test such as, "Mary Jones sends me powerful signals that she (and maybe even her vagina) is not a forbidden target", or "girls are pleasure-giving even if one does no more than kiss and cuddle them", a fetish habit may become virtually all-powerful especially if girls are scarce. On the other hand, if there are sufficient Mary Joneses about, and the pleasure they afford to young men in one way or another is greater than that hitherto associated with the fetish object, then adherence to the fetish will either die away or, more often, remain at a level far below that which would predispose him to consider himself fetishistic (Ibid. pp. 163-164).

In psychosexual infantilism, ironically, it may be the existence of a second variant script, dominance and submission, that limits movement toward isolation on the part of the infantilist. The need for a partner to both dominate him and reassure him of his acceptability as a person leads, hopefully, toward a moderation of his desires with the interests of his partner. Infantilism may include conventional sex along with acting out the variant script:

When Jerry has his diaper on, I make him crawl around on the floor like a little baby. That's how he wants to be treated: He wants me to make him do the things a baby would do...

After playtime comes the sex. Actually, the way Jerry and Barb perform the sex act is not all that unusual. She explains, "We have sexual intercourse or we have oral sex. It's the arousal that's different. That's what makes our sex so good." (Gregory, p. 61).

Blockage of conventional scripts can result in the "fetish becoming all-powerful" (Gosselin & Wilson, p. 163). Recall that fetishism, "use of inanimate objects as the preferred or exclusive method of obtaining sexual excitement" is a mental illness (APA, 1980, p. 15). Strong negative social sanction is likely if a fetishist comes to the attention of the public:

Much the same happened to Francisco on New Year's Eve in San Francisco. He went out with friends as the "New Year's Baby" wearing just a diaper and baby panties. Unfortunately for the baby, some cops who stopped him discovered an outstanding traffic warrant. Like Rene, he wasn't allowed to dress until after he was booked and photographed. He was then given an orange jail jumpsuit and his baby gear was taken away...

Both babies indicate that being busted in diapers is far more fun in fantasy than in fact (Taylor, 1984, p. 11).*

* See also Speaker, 1980, p. 9

Without the existence of conventional scripts an even more devastating condition than fetishism can result: sexual addiction. Carnes (1983) has described 3 levels of variant sexual behavior:

Level 1: behaviors accepted as normal, acceptable, tolerable, e.g. masturbation, homosexuality, prostitution

Level 2: nuisance behaviors which are clearly victimizing and for which legal sanctions are enforced, e.g. exhibitionism, voyeurism [and fetishism involving theft or public sexuality]

Level 3: behaviors with grave consequences for victims and legal consequences for the addicts, e.g. incest, child molestation, rape (Carnes, pp. 27-28).

Sexual addiction is described as sexual behavior involving "preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior and despair". A hallmark symptom of addiction is the loss of control of sexual behavior (Ibid. p. 10). Addiction is possible at each level of behavior and addiction becomes a more serious matter with each downward progression. Escalation of the behavior1 within each level also indicates progression: "To risk greater consequences in the interest of a more exciting high indicates the escalation of the addiction ." (Ibid . p . 27 ).

Sexual addiction requires treatment as regaining lost control alone is virtually impossible. Treatment is also needed when spouse or lover objects to the script and refuses to participate. Treatment options will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.

Dissertation: 1986| HTML conversion: 16 August 2010

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