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Understanding Infantilism (.org)

Symbol, Mechanism, and Need in Infantilism or

Three Things to do with a Wet Knee Brace

By BitterGrey

Sections: The Need -The Mechanism - The Symbol - Symbols Effects - Mechanisms Effects - Affecting the Need

This text was written to offer understanding and insight into one type of infantilism. It was then adapted in the hopes of someday being read by my parents and loved ones.

In previous studies, I had developed new methods of approaching problems, and a different viewpoint from which to pursue truth. However, it seemed that repeatedly, these complexities would circle back onto the simple positions of the Christians. I would have traveled further and learned more, but ended up in the same spot.

When it came time to study my infantilism, this was intentionally prevented. Many had suffered under the Judeo-Christian stigma of not being "normal." Since my childhood, I was one of them. Infantilism caused me to reject spitefully the popular view that gave rise to this stigma, and perhaps the position of the church, which did not seem to oppose it.

This is an attempt to summarize my journey in a clear and direct way. However, I ask you to excuse any complexity or round-aboutness. Be assured that they were unavoidable.


Although my infantilism may be a result of events during upbringing, it is more likely to be a result of personality afterwards. Supporting this is view is the fact that my tastes run strongly toward disposables, while as far as I know, I was raised in cloth diapers. I don't recall my infancy, but have a few memories of childhood. Typical of this youth was a time my grandparents took me out to see a movie. As a twelve year old child, I thought Disney movies were too childish. I chose to see a double feature, Conan the Barbarian and The Road Warrior. Both featured a violently independent, almost stoic hero. (As my grandparent might also read this eventually, I would like to emphasize that this is only an example of my childhood and not a critical event. There is no reason for guilt.) In contrast, my family was loving, supportive, and forgiving; as ideal as could be hoped for. I, however, was too like my Hollywood heroes, either unwilling or unable to accept it. This lifestyle was fine for a few hours, but over the years an absence accumulated. It was not long until the need was clear, but not yet consciously understood.


Subconsciously, to deal with this need, a coping mechanism was called upon. Mechanism in the sense used here refers to an emotional crutch or sociological replacement hip. There are then two natures of things, mechanical and fluid (for lack of better terms). There are wrenches and there are arms. Each is made differently, will break differently, and then will be treated differently when broken.

The replacement hip is, in essence, a plastic joint with two pieces of metal for anchoring it to the bone. It is mechanical. As a result, with a little research, it is easy to know how it is made, what it does, why it is shaped as it is, etc. Revealing every detail of its nature is simple. This simplicity is not without drawbacks. Foremost, it cannot adapt to new problems, or recover from damage. This joint's mechanical-ness becomes most clear when installed in a living hip. The replacement can be made strong and installed quickly, where the natural hip might never have healed. However, if the replacement is too strong, the bone around it will not be loaded, and so will degrade until it fails in some other way. If the replacement is too weak, it will fatigue, and cracks will grow. The mechanical device will be unable to recover, and so will fail. If this happens, the replacement must itself be replaced.

Fortunately, my joints are natural, and my experience with crutches was brief. My knee required an operation, and would be useless for a time after that. The crutches were used instead of my bad leg, permitting me to move around. If that leg were used, it may never heal. Of course, if I continued to use the crutches after the knee had healed, that leg would wither to uselessness anyway.

It was a counterbalance mechanism that was involved in my infantilism. My main personality was unhealthily extreme in one direction, so another personality was induced in the other direction. This artificial counterbalance was more a fragment or unexpressed aspect than a true individual. It was simply a coping mechanism, subconsciously intended to give urge and symbol to a deep need. The urge has been felt for as long as I can remember, but the mechanism was not understood until recently.


This mechanism, of course, had a symbol. How many hungers remain generic, not hungers for a turkey diner or urges for a chocolate sundae? Unconsciously, I drew back to a time when I was tangibly loved and cared for: back when I did not have cause to condemn myself or reject the affections of others, a time before guilt. Notably, this time is also dramatically more subject to nostalgia. I hungered and, as most hungers do, it focused on a symbol of what I hungered for. Did I recall the tender attentiveness with which I was changed? Could it be that they were associated with peace and innocence in some advertisement, similar to how beer commercials promise happiness? I don't know.

For whatever reason, the urge focused on a symbol both tangible and extreme; the diaper. I would see them in adds and hunger - not to have the child, mind you - but to be that child, to be so tended and enclosed. I would hunger to be an infant, but that was abstract for such a deep urge. More powerful was the more basic, the diaper. There was a tangibility: the thickness in the seat; the hot urine flowing over wrapped testicles. (Apologies to Mom; the majority of infantilists are male. Also a note that any resulting rashes are also viewed with nostalgically.) I could not turn myself into an infant, but could only pretend. I could, however, wear a diaper.

This presence and tangibility were of foremost importance. Later I would become a Christian. I knew God cared for me and provided for my needs. (It is a peeve of mine that Bible translators left "Abba" in Aramaic, as if there was something wrong with calling up to "Daddy.") There was always someone there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. However, God himself wasn't tangible in the most basic sense: I couldn't physically reach out and hug Him.

And so, diapers became the basic focus of my otherwise unexpressed need. They pasted a picture, a feel, and a scent onto my hunger. However, they were a symbol, spawned from a mechanism, not the root of my urge.


Now, at first, all this may seem the result of a distant family. This is probably not the case. I still live with my mother, and if I needed a hug, I need only ask. If anything, it seems she would prefer the family be more huggy (no pun intended). It was an affectionate family; I was just not willing to receive it.

The infantilism made the matter worse. I became more distant because I now had something to hide. I began to dislike myself for not being in control, and so not only expected others to dislike me as well, but I tried to tighten my control wherever I could. My two halves became more separate and more extreme. The coping mechanism had become counterproductive. The pursuit of a symbol of my needs had the effect of deepening those needs and leaving them unsatisfied. It would probably continue to do so.

Please imagine, if you will, a date with a woman you plan to marry. "Sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on," you say, "and at times, I try to escape the daily pressures by being small and helpless. Sometimes I need to be held." All the while, you are holding her powerfully, offering her the same whenever she needs it. Imagine her reaction, assuming she is sound and reasonably maternal. Now if you will, contrast that with what also might be said. "Sometimes I need to be changed. That is, my diapers..." Now, the underlying needs are the same in many cases, but reliance on an uncommon symbol may cause them to be unfulfilled. Now, if you expect to be changed, she should be told. But wouldn't it be better to forgo a symbol to improve the odds of satisfying the substance of the need? Keep in mind that this holds true only for ~vestic infantilists, who have an infantile side to their personality. It is a different matter to those who look to diapers as a fetish or a source of humiliation.


Some mechanisms are fine, like the crutches. They are used while they are needed, while living systems heal, or to replace those that will not heal. However, some are like the knee brace I used to wear. It compensated for the problem's symptoms, but the knee itself would get worse. I would tend to forget the problem, and so not deal with it, even abusing the knee at times. This impeded the natural healing process. If the brace was relied on, it would eventually need to have been replaced with a stronger brace, and then perhaps a synthetic knee. Now, my infantilism seemed mostly stable. However, its danger was that it concealed other problems while not satisfying the initial need. One of these other problems was a particularly destructive form of masochism. If you like, this can be discussed in more detail later.

So I stopped relying on the brace and the diapers. Now that all the problems were in the open, the knee is improving, and the masochism is being dealt with. (Not necessarily eliminated, but at least moderated to a safe level).


Please don't get the wrong idea. I don't consider infantilism evil. There is still a fondness for the feel of a warmly padded scrotum, but it should not a burning hunger. There is still a joy in a mother's affections. Ideally, they should be expressed in ways I don't have to hide from my mother.

However, there was clear reason to oppose the mechanism, even if the tastes remained in tact. The form of this opposition was mostly intuitive. First, the underlying need had to be understood and dealt with. In my case, this involved learning to accept love, support, and forgiveness from others. This part wasn't easy, but with God's (whose love, support, and forgiveness I also needed to learn to accept) help, it was relatively painless. The mention of God's help, and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, is made only briefly. Any attempt to summarize Their role would oversimplify things, and make it sound easy. Simply put, it was not easy.

Second, the counterbalance persona needed to be absorbed. That is, not to have a small and hidden infantile side, but to be a whole person that is a little more boyish on average. Those of you who have met BitterGrey on FurryMUCK or on IRC know him as a cub. He is significantly less grim, guarded and, well, bitter than the older wolf he was at his initial World Wide Web presentation. (Which was based on a personification - or lupification - buried in a systematic Bible study.) Overall, both I and the cub are happier and a lot more pleasant to be around.

Permission (and encouragement) is given to reproduce or redistribute this text, unaltered, on a non-profit basis, especially to your parents and loved ones.

- Updated:20 March 2011     

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