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Sep 13, 2005

    1. I am very interested in the psychology of what attracts people to and repels people from dolls. As doll collectors I'm sure most of us have experienced mixed reactions from others towards our dolls, and it seems a good few people find them creepy to the point of fear.

      The fear of dolls is called Pediophobia, it is also used to refer to a fear of small children. What do you think lays behind this fear? Is it just the result of horror movies and before that numerous horror tales of dolls? Is there something deeper to it? I would love to hear your thoughts about what is behind this reaction, especially if you have any interesting experiences to share.

      (Mods if this is too OT please delete)
    2. My brother likes my larger (well, MSD size) Gerard...but he is scared of my smaller (Yo-SD) Liam.
      I asked him why and he said that Liam looked like a baby trying to look like an adult? I don't get it, but I think it's odd that he's scared of one and not the other.
    3. ~The only experience I've had with pediophobia has been ironically with ABJDs.

      As part of an "experiment", I went with a study group to Barnes&Noble with some dolls. We all had dolls. I took Lefanu, he's a Volks Kouhya, a non-fantasy-character, and the other one is Amaranth, she's a Luts elf vamp Lishe. Both are in flesh tone.

      Two things happened: the people who saw Lefanu were either very attracted to him and had to touch him and pick him up; basically play with him. Physical contact was very important, I noticed that the people who interacted with Lefanu, mainly women, derived real enjoyment from the contact with my doll. They messed with his clothes, hair, eyeballs, somebody took his shoes off and cooed and ahhhd about his toes and laughed her head off when she saw his anatomical detail.
      Another woman craddled him like a baby and started to rock him, I don't think she knew she was rocking my doll, it looked instinctive.

      On the other hand, some people found Lefanu creepy, off-putting, frightening, grotesque and someone was actually so repulsed by him that she walked away. Many children were also afraid of him.

      I talked to two Asian women who were not fazed at all and recognized the dolls right away and chatted with me about were I got them, how long I had them, etc...

      Amaranth on the other hand, got a total different reaction from the same people. She was accepted immediately and her pointy ears were pawed at all the time. Even the people who found Lefanu scary, reacted in a positive way and were not threatened at all by my elf, even after I showed them her fangs, those same people still found her cool.
      One lady said "she isn't scary at all, elves are awesome besides they're not real..." but of Lefanu she said that "he is very beautiful but he terrifies me, he looks like a beautiful dead child..."

      One of the repeating comments most of us got was that the dolls looked like "beautiful corpses of children."

      I think maybe people are afraid partly because of what you say of horror movies but fear of dolls dates prior to movies, so I think it may have to do with cultural background and probably how we view death within our own cultures.
      Ethnicity seems to affect the reactions as well. The Asian women were very comfortable around the dolls.
      I found the comment about dead children disturbing, why children, why not young adults?

      ~I really want to know what other people have experienced and what they think it means. :daisy

      Cool topic by the way! :D :D :D
    4. And why "dead" they don't look dead at all, otherwise I wouldn't own any and have them out while I sleep if i did.
    5. How interesting, especially the difference between the elf and human bjds. I wonder if its because the elves are not 'like us', they can be beautiful like another species or and animal, wheras human dolls reflect us directly. They imitate our form, and bjds do that very well.

      As for dolls being dead, well to a lot of people I suppose they are. They look like beautiful little people, but they don't move or talk. They just sit there and stare. Unless you are constantly exposed to dolls it might be hard to imagine them as alive in any way.
    6. An elderly friend of mine used to paint porcelain dolls, until she painted one of a sleeping baby, and donated it to a church charity auction. She was asked to withdraw her doll from the auction because it upset too many people because it was so life-like and when it didn't wake up, people REALLY thought it was a dead child...

      I only found out the story when I was looking through a photo album and commented that her grand-daughter looked so adorable when she was "asleep". She never painted or sewed for dolls again :(

      I haven't experienced anyone mistaking my Rémy for a real child, probably because he's a mini, but I think that glimpsed out of the corner of your eye, a normal-sized BJD might possibly pass for a small human?
    7. I’m in agreement with the death theory (although I certainly think the horror genre contributed) I think it’s more than likely that dolls can stir thoughts of death, for much the reason Pandora already stated. BJD’s are still silent effigies of human beings. Since most dolls will be taken for children also, the concept of a dead child to many is particularly disturbing.
      And it seems instinctive to fear or be ‘creeped out’ by death, thus this is projected onto the dolls.
      My dolls haven’t been seen that much so I’ve not had many comments on them, but I’m sure a lot of you will be familiar with the koitsukihime dolls?
      Now, I love dolls but when I first saw a koitsukihime doll my first thought was that it looked like a dead woman (or possibly child) and I felt a pang of revulsion, and initially I did think they were creepy. But as I said, since I’m a doll fan the feeling mostly past and turned into curiosity, but the revulsion was my first instinctive reaction.
      I would say there could be a complation of reasons to cause pediophobia.

    8. Interesting topic!

      I blame horror movies, although as others have said, the silent, stillness of these dolls, coupled with their lifelike appearance can make people think of dead/undead creatures.

      I'd like to add something from the reactions of my closest friends.

      One doesn't like the dolls because she says the proportions are wrong. I understood this when she didn't like my Obitsu 60cm, as her neck is long, & that is what my friend was pointing to, but I was surprised that she wouldn't even look closely at Hound, as I thought he might be more aesthetically pleasing to her, with his proportions. *sigh*

      So it was the fact that they were like humans in some ways, but UNLIKE them in other, subtle ways that upset her.

      I've also had comments from another friend about the unblinking eyes. They are given the sensation of being watched, & can only see silent, watching figures as malevolent.

      I suppose that even the gender-neutrality of many dolls might disturb some people, or the realistic adult characteristics.

      I've not taken my dolls out & about enough to gauge many reactions, but have been surprised by many positive ones from unexpected people.

      Looking forward to more theories!

    9. Actually, other then Barbies, Bratz and of course BJD's, Im completely terrified of dolls ^^; Things like really old china dolls, I actually cant be in the room with, they scare me so much. I think its probably from a horror movie POV, though Ive never actually watched any movies with dolls in them, I just have a hyperactive imagination >>;

      So the thing that I wonder about, is why do I LIKE BJD's? I think its because, for the most part, theyre -not- incredibley lifelike, I mean in features, a lot of them resemble anime or graphic novel characters more then humans? ^^; Theyre just so pretty, and the characters of my dolls are so real to me, that they dont scare me at all. They even sleep in my bed ^^; You'd never catch me getting to sleep with a china doll in the same HOUSE as me, let alone in my room!
    10. I have gotten several mixed reactions about my ABJD's even from doll collectors. One woman I met at an artique convention who was a doll seller, was creeped out by the fact I could take his wig off. I have found that with these dolls in particulr people are bothered by how lifelife they are, they are just life like enough that perhaps it bothers people to see them so still? Im not sure. I'e gotten every reaction from "dang that creepy" to "wow she is so gorgeous!" I had a full conversation with a little girl once who I let look at my boy and she was facinated by him.
      my nephews though seem o fear dolls I think because of the horror movie, although they seem to not be bothered by my abjd's as much. I asked markus why once and he replied "because ash is cool" (ash being my boy). he even played with him a bit. yet they seem to fear my mothers collection of antique dolls.
      perhaps it is a combination of things? I am sure that horror movie play a big part. that "creepy human like thing that isnt quite human".
    11. Some dolls have a very stiff, dead look to them just from their molding. Look at the old-fashioned types of Victorian dolls with their chubby faces and lifeless eyes and bodies. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the uglier a doll is, the creepier it is, but there's something about the molds that can make a doll look stiff and weird. I don't see many ABJD's that look that way, but they can.

      I think some fear comes from them looking dead, but also that they look too alive. Not the "dead baby" thing but the "they're watching me" thing.

      Then there's the "pfft, that's child's stuff!" thing. I mentioned that I collect dolls when some stranger online asked my hobbies and he went on about how that's "kids" stuff and he buys "dolls" for his little brother and so that's an infantile hobby because his four year old brother "collects dolls too". I asked if he meant expensive collectors dolls (he said "yes" but then qualified it) or what and he meant ... Tweetybird plushies. Ah, clueless.
    12. Oh! Also, my husband is reading this thread (he should join!) & got very excited & started telling me about Japanese Robotics research...


      Looks a bit technical, but it's the Uncanny Valley phenomenon: the fact that there is a point when something becomes close to being realistic, but not quite close ENOUGH, leading to it giving a more disturbing effect, rather than a pleasing one.

      A dead body closely resembles a living human, but with subtle differences that mark it as WRONG to the human observer, whereas a realistic elf-doll is not being seen in the same way, as the very obvious differences from a human mean that the observer is not perturbed by it.

      And there was me thinking I shouldn't get a vampire doll, as it might scare my parents!

    13. I'm afraid of barbies... those weird... freakishly... insane smiles that forever haunt you at night... 8D


      bjds are ok though! espeacially minis! they're so large yet... small... :chibi I see mine as a "guardian" whenever I turn off the lights of my bedroom before going to sleep... (as to not terrify myself)

      I sort of like china dolls though... not the weird :D "heehee" smiling ones... more like the ones that seemed to be in deep thoughts... or smiling a knowing smile (like the mona lisa!)... I dunno why though @__@; I guess it makes them look more... "alive"?
    14. I also agree with the "death theory".
      As a matter of fact, there truly are mummies of small children that look like dolls.
      About one year ago, I saw a program on TV about that cemetery inside of a church (the famous Crypt of the Cappuccini friars) in Italy where, more than a hundred years ago, a scientist found a way to preserve corpses that made them look still alive.
      There were several mummies of small children from the beginning of last century, and many of them were standing and dressed up as if they were about to go out for a walk.
      I felt so horrified and sad about them that I hadn't the courage to look at my SD boy for several weeks!
      By the way, I think some people are scared by very small baby-like dolls because they unconsciously think they look like rejected fetuses.
    15. I am terrified of dolls. I have collected porcelain dolls for many years in the form of birthday presents, I think I received my first at age 5. They're so scary. They sit on my shelves and look pretty and one's a ballerina and you wind her up and she MOVES and plays SCARY MUSIC. They're absolutely terrifying. I used to keep heavy books on top of the box that held my Barbies so they couldn't get out (I also hideously disfigured them and made them jump off rooves, but that's another story) and I only ever had anthromorphic figurines for my dollshouse because proper people-like dolls were too scary.

      Oddly enough, my bjd is probably the one doll I DON'T find terrifying. I've actually never had a reaction of fear or creepiness to her, even when I took her to school, but my porcelain dolls terrify all my friends. This also could be due to the fact that when I was 5 I read a horror story about a porcelain doll and proceeded to relate it to all my friends for the next 12 years of our lives. WHO KNOWS.
    16. This is utterly fascinating to me, thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Its strange how some people find BJD's less scary because they aren't realisitic, and some find them attractive because they are? A point of perspective I suppose.

      I imagine what many people have mentioned, the child-like aspect of dolls even the fact that they are associated with children has to do with this response. I think it could be more than the repellance at the thought of a dead child, (though thats a story in in itself, look at victorian post-mortem photographs) also there is the fact that fear and childhood are intrinsically linked. When we are young our fears are so much more real, we convert imagination into reality with such ease.. some children can even have this effect on adults.

      curiouser and curiouser..
    17. it's odd.. when I find soemthing creepy, I don't try to avoid it, I touch it and examine it to make it more faimliar or to find out more about it.
    18. I actually don't like the fact that "pediophobia" refers to both the fear of dolls AND the fear of small children. I adore dolls, but I absolutely abhor children. If children didn't move and...do other things I won't go into, I wouldn't dislike them. Odd that they chose to lump together the fear of an inanimate object with an animate one, seeing as how the reasons to be afraid of them would not be consistent.
    19. I personally think that its not just the fear of death or that dolls appear to be dead. I agree that to some extent that does seem to give fuel to the fear. However I think that there are some people who feel that those of us who are collecting dolls are compensating (at least those without children) for our childlessness. I think dolls also force people to look at something in themselves because they're charicatures of people.

      Now I will say that I also have a few of the little apple dolls. My sister hates those because she says they represent dead children (partially on the story, but they're not dead just inbetween) and that makes her sad. However she's intrigued by Lenore and other more realistic dolls.
    20. I think so too about the children thing, but I won't say why for fear of offending somebody *_*