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Dr. Brian Zamboni's AB/DL Community Survey

By B. Terrance Grey

Six papers by the late Dr. Brian Zamboni are collectively the most significant study of AB/DLs in medical literature to date. Five were published within a ten-month period, a year before his sudden passing.

Brian reached out to me via email in 2010. He had worked with several patients who had AB/DL-related issues. At an AASECT conference in 2005, he gave a presentation that he described as “not long and very modest; as I recall, I mentioned some cases I had seen up to that point and noted some of the literature (such as it is).” At the time, infantilism was listed in the DSM as a type of masochism, with no provision for non-pathological ageplay or diaper enjoyment. The few academic articles that mentioned AB/DLs were usually based on atypical individuals (e.g. those submitting to examination due to legal trouble). Brian and Dr. Kaitlyn Hawkinson wanted to expand on this with a survey that had a non-pathological approach and an “open stance” to reflect the diversity in the ABDL community. They had consulted the ABDL survey project while working on their survey. This limited influence is clear in, for example, the common list five AB/DL aspects. Importantly, their survey would be developed within academia (the University of Minnesota and Hamline University), and so would have substantially more weight among mental health professionals.

Data collection for Brian’s survey ran for two months in 2011. The fourth survey of the AB/DL survey project was delayed to avoid overlap. A draft of the initial paper was written in 2012, but it was not accepted and published until 2014.

The Initial Paper

"Adult Baby/Diaper Lovers: An Exploratory Study of an Online Community Sample” offered a general overview of the AB/DL community (Hawkinson & Zamboni, 2014). Specifically, it was 93% male. Males were 58% heterosexual and reported experiencing AB/DL-related desires at a younger age than female AB/DLs. The distress and impairment necessary to meet Criterion B was absent in 87% of males and 91% of females. As a result, few AB/DLs sought professional help. This larger population was absent from the prior case histories.

The paper also looked in to negative mood states, attachment style, parental relationships, and two subgroups within the AB/DL community. This and later papers were generally objective and free of a priori assumptions. However, some results might benefit from clarification. For example, this paper presented the mean participant age, 31 years, and an annual income distribution with a mode of “less than $25,000”. This might give the impression that AB/DLs were largely unemployed thirty-somethings. To the contrary, these results were consistent with the AB/DL survey project’s participants base, which included a large percentage of participants in their low twenties. These participants might have had Internet access through their college or university, but as students, little income. Both surveys excluded participants under 18. While the income mode might have been strongly influenced by college students, the mean age might have been strongly influenced by older participants.

While the affiliation that Brian listed in papers did not change, he experienced a change to his position that permitted him to focus much more on writing. Between September 2017 and June of 2018, he would publish five more papers. These added new observations and expanded on topics from the initial paper.

The Forest and the Trees

“Characteristics of subgroups in the adult baby/diaper lover community” (Zamboni, 2019) and “A Qualitative Exploration of Adult Baby Diaper Lover Behavior” (Zamboni, 2017), published online in September and October of 2017, provide an important forest-and-trees contrast to each other. “Characteristics” explored AB/DLs who reported an agreement with the statements “I enjoy being treated like a baby” and “I enjoy sexual activity as a part of my ABDL behavior”. Notably, the two values were not correlated. These were not exclusive subgroups or a linear continuum, but a two-dimensional space. For example, more negative general mood states (not specific to AB/DL practices or identity) were associated with enjoying AB/DL roleplay, but not with AB/DL sexual enjoyment. “Qualitative Exploration” discussed participants' descriptions of their AB/DL practices. This paper’s approach permitted some exploration of smaller groups, such as a segment that included only AB roleplay, not wearing or using diapers. This group included only 5% of male participants, but 25% of female participants. The paper adds that Adult Baby might be a misnomer, with some participants preferring toddler or child roles.

In particular, the two papers offer different perspectives on the role of sex in AB/DL fantasies and practices, and on changes in the importance of aspects. “Characteristics” summarized that enjoying being treated like a baby correlated positively with an importance of sex as an aspect of ABDL. (The enjoyment of sexual activity and the importance of the aspect of sex were reported separately.) "Characteristics” also mentioned that age did not correlate significantly with agreement with either statement. In contrast, “Qualitative Exploration” highlighted that the importance of sex and babyhood might change over time in some individuals, and that some ABs excluded sex (e.g. to “keep the baby pure”). “Qualitative Exploration” warns clinicians and researchers to be cautious about making assumptions about AB/DLs.

Parents and Partners

“Experiences of Distress by Participants in the Adult Baby Diaper Lover Community”, (Zamboni, 2018a)published in February, explored breaks in AB/DL practice, depression, lack of self-acceptance as an AB/DL, etc. Broadly, it noted the negative effects of culture’s marginalization of atypical interests. Specifically, it urged parents to learn that “paraphilias are not uncommon” and “how to respond to their children’s sexuality in respectful and supportive ways.”

“Exploring asexuality within an adult baby/diaper lover community” (Zamboni & Madero, 2018), published in April, observed that AB/DLs who reported an asexual orientation wore diapers more frequently and reported greater enjoyment of them than other AB/DLs did. Asexual AB/DLs also reported significantly less importance and/or frequency of sexual excitement as part of being an AB/DL.

“Partner Knowledge and Involvement in Adult Baby Diaper Lover Behavior” (Zamboni, 2018a), published in June, found that AB/DLs often advised other AB/DLs to discuss their interest early, and that some data suggested that accidental exposure later in the relationship may lead to hurt feelings. It found that AB/DLs currently in a relationship usually discussed their interests with partners early in dating (although this might be less true of older AB/DLs).

Brian also influenced a number of AB/DL-related doctoral dissertations, either by being on the review committee or providing archival data from his survey. These included Transgender Individuals among the Online ABDL Community (Gibson, 2018), Etiological Perspectives of ABDL Behavior from Members of an Online ABDL Community (Hilleren, 2018), and An Exploration of the Motivation and Significance of Roleplay Within an Adult Baby Diaper Lover Community (Madero, 2021). He was also instrumental in shifting my focus more towards journal publication.

Brian died suddenly in 2019. Thanks to Brian, medical literature now includes a much broader understanding of the AB/DL community, as well as a more established context for further discovery.

Email BitterGrey[mail] Last Update: 22 July 2023| First: 22 July 2023

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[icon] Books and Other References:
  1. Gibson, E. (2018). Transgender individuals among an online adult baby diaper lover community sample: An Exploratory Study. Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  2. Hawkinson, K., & Zamboni, B. D. (2014). Adult baby/diaper lovers: an exploratory study of an online community sample. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(5), 863-877. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0241-7
  3. Hilleren, J. (2018). Etiological Perspectives of ABDL Behavior from Members of an Online ABDL Community (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University).
  4. Madero,G. (2021). An Exploration of the Motivation and Significance of Roleplay Within an Adult Baby Diaper Lover Community (Doctoral dissertation, Alliant International University).
  5. Zamboni, B. D. (2017). Characteristics of subgroups in the adult baby/diaper lover community. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(11), 1421-1429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.09.006
  6. Zamboni, B. D. (2018). Experiences of distress by participants in the Adult Baby/Diaper Lover community.Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 33(4), 470-486. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2018.1434312
  7. Zamboni, B. D. (2018a). Partner knowledge and involvement in adult baby/diaper lover behavior. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 44(2), 159-171. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2017.1340381
  8. Zamboni, B. D. (2019). A qualitative exploration of adult baby/diaper lover behavior from an online community sample. The Journal of Sex Research, 56(2), 191-202. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1373728
  9. Zamboni, B. D., & Madero, G. (2018). Exploring asexuality within an adult baby/diaper lover community. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2018.1459804

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