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"a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity projected in imagery or actually engaged in".Money believed all paraphilias were caused by the formation of abnormal lovemaps during the preadolescent years and that such abnormal lovemaps can be formed by any number of contributing factors or stressors during this developmental period.This may be due to both the relative rarity of the condition and because few paraphilic infantilists appear to seek professional mental health counseling, Research on the etiology of paraphilias in general is minimal and as of 2008 had essentially come to a standstill; it is not clear whether the development of infantilism shares a common cause with other paraphilias.Criminologists Stephen and Ronald Holmes believe that while there is no simple answer to the origins of infantilism, the practices may involve an element of stress reduction similar to that of transvestism.It has been hypothesized that, among other possible causes, sexual templates are established by a process akin to imprinting where lack of availability of female genitals during a critical period of development causes the imprinting mechanism to instead associate with the nearest visual or olfactory approximation.In the case of infantilism, the discipline of the mother or wearing diapers may create associations between pain, humiliation and sexuality.

Subsequently the internet became a major forum, with numerous websites offering books, magazines, audio and video tapes and related paraphernalia, as well as a 24-hour hotline.A variety of organizations exist to promote infantilism or meet with other practitioners throughout the world.The infantilist community is described by one practitioner as made up of two main types - adult babies (adults who role play infants) and sissy babies (who tend to wear typically feminine clothing, and use female pronouns).The conventional definition of infantilism means the persistence of childlike traits in adults and medically the failure to attain sexual maturity, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that along with other behaviors, sexual masochists "..have a desire to be treated as a helpless infant and clothed in diapers ('infantilism')" Psychologists D.Richard Laws and William O'Donohue state that "Although infantilism is classified as a sexual masochism in the DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR, it is questionable whether the criteria for sexual masochism are always met.