H. H. Holmes, or Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was one of the many aliases of Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896). Holmes was first and foremost a con man. Almost every description of him goes on at some length about just how very handsome, charming and simply winning a fellow he was. Like every great con man he was naturally expert in reading people — their clothing, body language, accent and diction — and exploiting the information to further his own agendas. He was warmly flirtatious with women, chummy with men, sincere with the elderly and exuberantly adoring with children. He would easily transform into whatever his mark needed him to be in order to get at their money, property, services, chastity, business and trust. He charmed and murdered his way into owning and operating a successful pharmacy, apartment building, and hotel, accumulated several wives and constructed a very elaborate “murder castle” — all without any qualifications or personal fortune to begin with. Nobody knows how many victims he took, but some think the number may be as high as 250.
Since there is no sexual aspect to what he is doing, it is called infantilism. When people role play as infants for sexual arousal and gratification it is called paraphilic infantilism. There is also diaper fetishism, but that can be driven by arousal from contact with waste or from the humiliation inspired by conscientiously breaking a cultural taboo rather than the attempt to capture psychological regression. Someone who practices non-sexual infantilism is called an adult baby (AB), but one who enjoys paraphilic infantilism is referred to as a diaper lover (DL).
On a visceral level, I have the same reaction to infantilists that most people probably do: yuck. However, I try to be careful not to let those feelings make me recoil and turn away. Instead I make myself learn more until I can understand (in theory) why they do it and why I react the way I do. Infantilists aren’t hurting anyone — there is no known correlation between infantilism and pedophilia. In the case of Stanley, the subject of the National Geographic story, his lifestyle is the result of having endured a traumatically abusive childhood. I think that living as an AB or DL is a comparatively healthier coping mechanism than what many people end up doing: self-destructive addictions and socially destructive violence and crimes. So it makes me feel icky, so what? People feel icky in response to all kinds of things: oral sex, homosexuality, sushi, body piercings, tampons, etc., etc.. It doesn’t make any of them wrong.