Trying to Understand Adult Babies and Furries
Positivism states that a person is not in control of their behavior which can be objectively observed and fixed. This theory can be divided into three major areas known as strain theory, social learning theory, and control theory — which can be defined by minor theories within the major theories that help explain deviant behavior.
What was viewed in the Taboo Adult Baby (AB) video was a young man named Stanley attempting to escape the abuse of the past by reliving his infancy through roleplay. A parent is required in order to complete the roleplay; therefore, a woman named Sandra has taken over as the guardian, by choice, when the former “parent” passed away.
The Furries video showed two young men, known as Courtney and Eric, who cope with their social anxiety by wearing costumes and roleplaying. Their animal personas are given names, and these individuals get together to express these personalities.
The chosen theories to explain the taboos concerning adult babies and furries are social learning theory and control theory.
Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory is a positivist theory which declares that a person’s behavior is influenced by the behavior of those who surround the individual. The regular social interactions with deviants can cause a person to become more deviant by identifying with the deviants; the deviant behavior may be considered convenient or more rewarding than following the standard rules.
Social learning theory further splits into the theories of differential association, differential reinforcement, and differential identification.
According to researchers Thio, Taylor, and Schwartz, differential association relates to how a person may commit more deviant acts because there is more social involvement with deviant individuals than the majority; differential reinforcement relates to how an individual may psychologically connect more with deviants and feel separated from the majority; differential identification relates to how a person may receive more benefits from being deviant vs. the amount of punishment received.
The deviant behavior shown in the Taboo Adult Baby (AB) video can be explained by the theory of differential identification while the deviant behavior shown in the Furries video can be explained by the theories of differential reinforcement and differential association. Stanley found comfort from his past abuse while Eric and Courtney found groups of friends with similar mindsets.
Control theory states that every individual is prone to deviant behavior since birth but that social controls, such as rules and etiquette, cause the majority to conform. Thio, Taylor and Schwartz state that those who do not conform to this control may have been raised or eventually learned not to be attached to the majority who do follow the social controls known as social bonding, self-control, and control balance.
Control theory includes deterrence doctrine and reintegrative shaming; deterrence doctrine explains that an individual is likely to become deviant if punishment is not applied properly while reintegrative shaming explains that a person may continue to pursuit deviant behavior if they are not put to shame.
The deviant behaviors shown in the Taboo Adult Baby (AB) video, which involves people who roleplay parent and child, and the deviant behavior shown in the Furries video, where these individuals roleplay in animal costumes, can both be explained by deterrence doctrine and reintegrative shaming. None of these individuals have been punished or been publicly shamed for their deviant behavior, so far.
When it comes to the deviance of being an adult baby, social learning theory and control theory have similarities and differences in explaining the existence of this taboo. Stanley had PTSD which caused him to search for escapism, and he found relaxation in a nonsexual form of infantilism while Sandra found comfort in the idea of nurturing another person.
Also, Stanley felt justified because infantilism is not illegal nor physically harmful to those involved, and he was still able to keep a job as a handyman.
The difference in the theories comes from how control theory focuses on punishment, overall, while social learning theory focuses on reward or similar ideas. Stanley and Sandra did not face any kind of punishment; therefore, they only had to think of the reward of comfort.
Social learning theory and control theory, when compared, have differences and similarities in explaining the taboo involving furries. Roleplaying as an animal helped Courtney become less shy and nervous, and Eric even mentioned that “social barriers have been removed.”
These people felt like they are legitimately part animal — with another personality and name — and they enjoyed spending time together in groups. When Courtney was dressed as Nuka, he felt no shame in the attention he received.
Social learning theory and control theory both are similar when comparing differential association, differential reinforcement, and social bond because it reflects how connected a person is to the people around them. Eric and Courtney did not identify with people who did not believe they were part animal, so they continued their deviant behavior with others who believed and did the same.
Besides the difference of reward versus punishment, social learning theory and control theory involve identification with deviants versus identification with the majority. Eric became Alcane while Courtney became Nuka. Stanley became an infant while Sandra became a parent to an infant.
There were rewards for those in Taboo Adult Baby (AB) and Furries while there was a lack of punishment. Sandra and Stanley focused on how they identified with their personal levels of comfort while Eric and Courtney identified with their association with other similar deviants.
As stated by Thio, Taylor and Schwartz, social learning theory is about “what causes deviance” while control theory is about “what causes conformity.”
I was entirely shocked when one of the professionals in the video mentioned the fact that 85% of the people who take part in the furry behavior actually believe they are part animal. This is different than the situation involving Sandra and Stanley because Sandra is aware that she is not his guardian but that it’s therapeutic to care for another person; whereas, Stanley is conscious that he is not an infant and that he is entirely capable of caring for himself — it’s all done for comfort.
Courtney and Eric did not outright mention that they believe they are part animal or furry, but they did say that they felt more comfortable expressing other sides of themselves that are not normally expressed when they are dressed as the average person.
As for societal expectations, Sandra and Stanley seemed to care less, but Stanley was aware that he still needed a job in order to afford his deviant lifestyle. It’s interesting that Courtney was in the process of earning his PhD when he took part in the documentary because, in a way, this shows that he may have some interest in societal expectations by needing to prove something with his research about furries.
Stanley seems to be using infantilism as a coping mechanism, and Courtney does the same with dressing as an animal. I can’t help but wonder if they have ever received therapy for the issues that cause them to choose these behaviors; Courtney mentioned anxiousness and being shy while Stanley mentioned PTSD from abuse in his youth.
Perhaps they haven’t tried other forms of coping that a therapist may provide. Neither of the documentary videos mentioned whether either of them had gone through a psychologist or any other professional for help related to their insecurities.
They have each learned to avoid the majority, when possible, by only forming social bonds with others who take part in the same behaviors, and while they are not hurting others, they may be hurting themselves without realizing it. The lack of reintegrative shaming by not being chastised enough for their behavior — and not being given the tools by a professional for dealing with their problems — may have aided in their choices.