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Infantile Adults

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:22 pm    Post subject: Infantile Adults Reply with quote

For some reason, I seem to be surrounded these days by infantile adults. Not the extreme case

(Read this article if you want a good laugh: )

But just people, and many in positions of responsibility, who, in essence, want to do nothing and basically have their emotional diapers changed.

For some reason, Seattle is a way station for this behavior. Everyone is cute and fey and special. And it overlaps into professionalism as workplaces where your programming code is judged by how well you snowboard...and so on.

Will they every grow up? They haven't yet. Perhaps early retirement...
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a fascinating article, and somewhere in there, I did laugh.
I applaud your finding it, even while not wanting to know the search
terms you used (unlike the current administration - zing!).

(Sorry - couldn't resist.)

(But seriously,)

I suppose the Democrats will spy on us too.

(I'll be here all week!)

No, really, seriously: Look, maybe I should just start over.

First, I had some ideas related to the article you mention:
I found that the most interesting part, aside from the detailed
description of the patient's behavior, was:
...could speculate that he had a long-standing and ongoing conviction that he [i]missed out on the ideal infancy because he was rejected by his biological mother. ... he insisted on being the one who made the appointments so that he was in charge and ultimately abandoned her, rather than giving her the opportunity to abandon him ... ...began at approximately age 12, when puberty must have been approaching. We can speculate that one of the determinants of the adult baby syndrome in this case may have been a wish to avoid the threat of genital sexuality by regressing to an infantile dependent state...

My reactions were complex. You offered derision, and I got a bit of
that: "I want to be a baby. I want to be a baby."

But also pity. I suppose your viewpoint might depend on whether
he was giving you a ticket or not, whether a person like that had
authority of some kind over you.

Fascination, I already mentioned.

A bit of admiration, for presenting such an extreme example of what
is an elemental desire. You suggested the idea of a continuum.
I told my mom, who is edging back toward a child state, and is
living in a retirement center, that I envied the benefit of people
coming to her room, asking what she wanted for dinner, and then
bringing it.

I guess a lot of people would be tempted, if it cost the same,
for instance, if someone brought what you wanted for dinner.
If you had enough extra wealth or income, such that the added
expense of being "babied" in this way was inconsequential, who
wouldn't be tempted?

We aren't homo economicus for nothing. We do this kind of
thing all the time. We pay to be babied: our pizza's delivered,
our lawns mowed, our houses cleaned every three weeks (not
mine). I probably wouldn't want someone to pay my bills for me
(I do that for my mom), but this year I've hired someone to do
my taxes. We might say we wouldn't want to be "babied" in some
particular way, but if the cost were small or inconsequential,
there's a good chance we'd go that direction. After all, who wouldn't?
Who wouldn't want to save the time spent plucking feathers from
chickens and preparing vegetables for canning, to devote to other
more productive or more interesting pursuits, or even to sleeping?

Which raises, I think, the central question of Mr. A, and the idea
of being treated as a baby. The question is not why Mr. A wanted
to be treated as a baby, but why everyone else doesn't want the
same thing. I have several ideas on this topic, but I can hold off
for the moment.

I think that the most interesting aspect of the case described in
the article was that it seemed consistent with a theory I've been
kicking around for about 10 years, now. My hypothesis is that our
personalities are formed at a very young age, primarily by crises
in which none of our repertoire of behaviors is effective in resolving
a particular problem. In other words, "what do you do when there's
nothing you can do?" My intuition is that the way that people
answered that question as a baby (and, I think there are several
distinctly different answers) subsequently shapes their
choices and their personalities as adults.


Ultimately, It seemed that Mr. A's "problem" (to himself) was
not in being a baby, but that he couldn't find someone to mother him:
a "search" problem, perhaps.


That is what I got from the "extreme" case you mention.

You suggested the idea of the continuum, and I think I've
fleshed that out a bit, and hinted as to why one might be
positioned further out or back along that continuum.

I find it a much harder problem to criticize others who are
on a different point on a continuum that I myself am also on,
for the position they are at, or the choices they make.
Consider how much easier it is to make a distinction between
yourself and "those people" when those people are qualitatively
different from you, than it is to make a distinction between them
and you when they are quantitatively nearby on a particular

So, given the idea of the continuum, I would translate your
original question as: we're all babies, so why aren't some of us
so contemptible? I'm hope I'm being reasonable when I believe
that we will both have good answers.

Meantime, you describe people you know who are between you
and Mr. A on the baby continuum. On one level, they would
seem to have enough "wealth" in terms of cash, status, or
snowboarding skills to pay to be babied. As Shaw once said,
"we've already established what sort of person you are, now
we're just haggling over price." (paraphrase)

This may well be an example of how we are returning to a feudal
state, where the vast majority of us earn a living by making
"rich" people happy, in this case by changing their "emotional
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