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The Clinical Mental Health Experience of Persons with Paraphilic Infantilism and Autonepiophilia

Sections: Index- 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- a- b- c- d- References

(This dissertation is also available in PDF format.)

A dissertation as presented to the faculty of The American Academy of Clinical Sexologists In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Clinical Sexology

By Rhoda J. Lipscomb, MSC, LPC

The dissertation is approved and accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Dissertation Committee

Edward H. Fankhanel, PhD, EdD, Committee Chair

Patti Britton, PhD, Committee Member

James Walker, PhD, Committee Member


It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge the following people, without whose support, assistance and guidance this academic endeavor would have ever been possible.

First, to Dr. William Granzig, President and founder of the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists for sharing his extensive wealth of knowledge, guidance, and dedication to educational excellence in the field of clinical sexology. Many of your sage comments have made me a better clinician and for that I thank you.

To Dr. Edward Fankhanel, Committee Chair and Faculty, for his guidance and enthusiastic support of this research into a little known area of human sexuality.

To Dr. Patti Britton, Committee Member, for her support, sense of humor and willingness to take on one more project despite her already overbooked schedule.

To Dr. James Walker, Committee Member and Faculty, for his assistance and guidance in the production of this research.

To Dr. Lloyd Williams and David with Dissertation Editor whose assistance with editing, polishing the language, ensuring a solid academic product as well as providing encouragement when I needed it most.

To my study participants and other AB/DL patients, for the courage to trust me with the most shameful, embarrassing, intimate aspects of their sexuality, for teaching me the best ways to help them accept themselves and achieve better lives and for allowing me the honor to work with them as well as tell their stories.

To Dr. Ralph Fox, my colleague, partner and very dear friend for his belief in my ability to take this journey, his assistance with editing and polishing, taking the time out of his busy schedule to read and re-read excerpts and provide sage advice as well as his unwavering love and support.

To Andy Lipscomb, my amazing husband and life partner whose steadfast love, support and belief in me has kept me going even when my waning belief was unsure if I could make it through this journey.

And finally, to Carma and Dale Harris, my parents, who raised me to believe in myself, become a compassionate, empathetic, and caring clinician so I could work to give a voice to those in the world who feel they have not been heard.


Rhoda J. Lipscomb is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in the Denver, CO metropolitan area. She has certifications in sex therapy, marriage and family therapy, Rapid Resolution Therapy and advanced training in clinical hypnosis. She is a member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and the American Psychotherapy Association.

In her private practice while she works with many areas of sexual functioning, depression, anxiety and life transition, she specializes in areas of alternative sexual expression, such as open relationships, BDSM, kink and fetishes. She is on Faculty in the sex therapy certification program at the Colorado School of Family Therapy in Aurora, CO.

Rhoda earned her Masters of Science in Counseling (MSC) from the University of Phoenix, Lone Tree, CO branch, in 2006. She earned her Bachelors of Arts (BA) from Hamline University, St. Paul, MN, in 1988. She spent 14 years working in reproductive health care clinics around the country educating, counseling, and assisting in the medical care of women and men dealing with reproductive health issues such as contraception, sexually transmitted infection prevention and treatment, and abortion care.


In the field of psychology and psychotherapy, there are numerous articles and chapters in text books devoted to the treatment of various paraphilia and fetishes, especially those that infringe on the rights of others such as pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and frotteurism. Very little is written or discussed regarding fetishes that are consenting and non-exclusive in a sexual manner yet cause the individual shame, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and difficulty in interpersonal relationships, especially romantic relationships. The focus of this dissertation will be on a greater understanding of the issues involved so that treatment of individuals presenting with sexually non-exclusive, consenting paraphilic infantilism and autonepiophilia receive more empathetic and compassionate care.

Studies show that few individuals who engage in paraphilic infantilism or autonepiophilia seek psychotherapy to help improve their lives. A review of the literature reveals a lack of peer-reviewed research into this unique area of human sexuality for therapists who see such individuals. While psychology and psychotherapy have made advances, further study is necessary to address the attitudes of the field regarding diaper fetishism.

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological research is to explore the participant’s world view and perspective. It used a social constructivist model and a phenomenological inquiry to describe and understand the sexual lives of individuals who practice these particular fetishes (Creswell, 2014) conducted open-ended and semi-structured interview questions, assessed by mining the data to explore the participants lived experiences and perspectives.

The themes that were discovered by the research represent the values and beliefs of the participants regarding the meaning of their AB/DL desires in their lives. The most critical theme that emerged from the research was the desire for a mother or mother figure despite the evidence that none of those in this study reported a poor relationship with their mothers.

This study does provide further evidence that psychotherapy can be beneficial to the lives of those who struggle to understand atypical sexual practices that appear at a young age despite no history of trauma or abuse and remain throughout the subjects’ lives. This study also shows that further investigation could be useful to help broaden the definition of sexual orientation beyond its current definition of the gender one seeks to have sexual experiences with. There is the possibility that fetishism is a natural expression of human variation that has been pathologized by the definition of deviance (Hawkinson & Zamboni, 2014).

Table of Contents

Dissertation Approval ... p. i

Acknowledgements ... p. ii

Vita ... p. iii

Abstract ... p. ..iv

Table of Contents ... p. vi

Chapter 1

Introduction ... p. 1

The Problem ... p. 3

Purpose of this Study ... p. 5

Research Questions ... p. 6

Limitations/Delimitations ... p. 7

Definition of Terms ... p. 7

Importance of this Study ... p. 10

Chapter 2

Review of the Literature ... p. 12

A Brief History of Attitudes Regarding Atypical Sexual Behaviors ... p. 13

The Meaning of Paraphilias ... p. 18

DSM: A Look at the Paraphilias ... p. 18

DSM-I ... p. 18

DSM-II.. ... p. 20

DSM-III.. ... p. 21

DSM-III-R ... p. 23

DSM-IV ... p. 26

DSM-IV-TR ... p. 27

DSM-5 ... p. 29

Modern Era Peer-reviewed Literature ... p. 33

Modern Era AB/DL Resources and Studies ... p. 40

The Survey Project ... p. 44

Chapter 3

Methodology ... p. 50

Introduction ... p. 50

Research Plan ... p. 50

Appropriateness of the Research Design ... p. .51

Selection of Participants ... p. 54

Instrumentation ... p. 55

Ethical Concerns ... p. 57

Data Analysis ... p. 59

Summary ... p. 59

Chapter 4

Results ... p. 61

Research Questions ... p. 61

Patterns and Themes ... p. 68

Patterns ... p. 70

Themes ... p. 71

Conclusions ... p. 72

Chapter 5

Conclusion and Recommendations ... p. 75

Limitations ... p. 75

Areas for Future Research ... p. 76

Appendix A: Consent Form for Participants ... p. 78

Appendix B: Subjects Bill of Rights ... p ... p. 84

Appendix C: Questionnaire ... p. 86

Appendix D: Face to Face Interview Questions ... p. 100

References ... p. 101

Dissertation: 2014| HTML conversion: 14 September 2014

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This work is copyright Dr. Rhoda J. Lipscomb, PhD, LPC, DAACS, BCPC, posted by permission. Dr. Lipscomb can be reached at dr.rhoda@yahoo.com.