Infantilization Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infantilization

Infantilization is the prolonged treatment of one who has a mental capacity greater than that of a child as though they are a child.[1] When used in reference to teenagers or adolescents, the term typically suggests that teenagers and their potential are underestimated in modern society, and/or that adolescents are often regarded as though they are younger than their actual age.[2]

Studies have shown that an individual, when infantilized, is overwhelmingly likely to feel disrespected. Such individuals may report a sense of transgression akin to dehumanization.[3]

The act of infantilizing others has been associated with narcissists.[4]

Infantilization may also refer to a process when a child is being treated in a manner appropriate only for younger children.[5]

In property law, infantilization is defined as “the restriction of an individual’s or group’s autonomy based on the failure to recognize and respect their full capacity to reason."[6] When infantilization is coupled with property takeover, the result is a dignity taking.[6]

There are several examples of dignity takings, including wage theft from undocumented workers where the power imbalance allows employers to rob workers of their agency and avenues for redress[7];  the dispossession of property from African Americans in the South Carolina sea islands by predatory tax buyers who routinely infantilized their victims by overwhelming them with paperwork and timelines to accelerate foreclosures;[8] and the unequal division of matrimonial property in southern Nigeria following divorce that assumes women are less capable of managing property and thus infantilizes them.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maude, Ulrika (2011). Beckett and Phenomenology. p. 111. 'to infantilize someone', for instance by treating an adult person as if they were a child
  2. ^ Couture, Pamela (2007). Child Poverty: Love, Justice, and Social Responsibility. p. 199.
  3. ^ Ware, Mark (2013). Handbook of Demonstrations and Activities in the Teaching of Psychology volume 2. p. 281.
  4. ^ "This is How Narcissistic Parents Treat Their Children | Psychology Today".
  5. ^ Gresham, Mary (1976). "The infantilization of the elderly: A developing concept". Nursing Forum. 15 (2): 195–210. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.1976.tb00616.x. PMID 1049435. In Maternal Overprotection, Levy (1957) defines infantilization as that process occurring in childhood whereby certain activities in caring for the child are continued beyond the stage of development when such activities usually occur.
  6. ^ a b Atuahene, Bernadette (2016). "Dignity Takings and Dignity Restoration: Creating a New Theoretical Framework for Understanding Involuntary Property Loss and the Remedies Required". Law & Social Inquiry. 41 (4): 796–823. doi:10.1111/lsi.12249. ISSN 1747-4469. S2CID 151377162.
  7. ^ Marzán, Rosado; F, César (2017-11-28). "Dignity Takings and Wage Theft". Rochester, NY. SSRN 3078735. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Kahrl, Andrew (2018-03-06). "Unconscionable: Tax Delinquency Sales as a Form of Dignity Taking". Chicago-Kent Law Review. 92 (3): 905. ISSN 0009-3599.
  9. ^ Diala, Anthony C. (2018). "The shadow of legal pluralism in matrimonial property division outside the courts in Southern Nigeria". African Human Rights Law Journal. 18 (2): 706–731. doi:10.17159/1996-2096/2018/v18n2a13. ISSN 1996-2096.