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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Reborn dolls: When a hobby becomes an obsession

  By Amanda Edwards

 A rising number of women around the world are succumbing to the strange addiction of collecting and caring for dolls that look eerily like newborn babies. The reborn dolls are made to feel just like a tiny baby in a person’s arms and women of upper and lower classes are falling victim to their desire to nurture these “babies” sometimes to the detriment of their family dynamic. Why is this happening? When does a hobby become an obsession?

In the field of mental health, to summarize plainly, a hobby brings joy while an obsession brings destruction. Painting is an example of a hobby that, for most, is enjoyable and enriches a person’s life. Most of the time, painting (or engaging in any other hobby) for a few hours a week would cause no harm to an individual or those around them. Partaking in a hobby is a healthy way of expressing self and individuality in a world where we’re often defined by our career roles. A hobby becomes an obsession when the damage done to a person, their family, or their existence outweighs the enjoyment they gain from the experience.

Collecting dolls is absolutely an acceptable hobby, one that dates back hundreds of years and provides work and fulfillment for many people. The fascination with the reborn doll movement is that it’s not simply about collecting and creating these dolls as a hobby, it’s about providing care for them, nurturing them, and sometimes, choosing them over family.

Recently, Voxxi reported about Alice Winston, a woman who collects these dolls and has lost her husband in part due to her emotional connection to her “babies.” Despite having five children of her own, she stated that, “No relationship will ever come between me and my babies, and I wouldn’t give them up for my children.” Clearly, a woman who chooses her doll collection over her relationships with her husband and children has an obsession, but why?

Alice started collecting dolls when her kitten and child fostering didn’t fill the void that she felt upon accepting that she should have no more children, as reported by the Telegraph. Her adolescent and adult children were no longer filling the void within her and she, like many women, felt the need to nurture something… anything…

A logical person may say this woman is crazy for spending thousands of dollars and countless hours on her “babies” while her marriage fell apart and her own children continued to grow. She doesn’t seem to think so and neither do her supporters.

Some women start collecting the reborn dolls to replace a stillborn child or lost pregnancy. For a woman who goes to the hospital, expecting to bring home a bundle of joy and doesn’t get to, there is no “proper” way to grieve and mourn and if a snuggle with a doll commemorating the short life of a lost baby helps a family heal, they should not be judged. Alice is not one of those mothers though. She has five children of her own already, her obsession has damaged herself and her family and, while no one with mental illness should be judged, she is putting her own children in danger and that cannot be ignored.

The unreasonable obsession starts when that “baby” takes precedence over other important aspects of the mother’s life. Then, mental health treatment is absolutely necessary in order for the woman and her family to remain safe and stable, physically and emotionally.

Whether it’s reborn dolls or model cars, hobbies are healthy while obsessions are not. The reborn doll movement can be a cohesive network of women supporting one another and engaging in a joyful experience or it can spiral into a dependency on nurturing something that’s not living. Let us all be aware of the difference.

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