Is it weird for an adult to own a stuffed animal? Not at all, in fact, it is a widespread phenomenon today for adults to own one or even more stuffed animals, which will be discussed in this article from a psychological point of view.
Adults With Stuffed Animals Psychology
In the psychology area, the relationship between grown men or women and stuffed animals are considered normal, sometimes they are even positive and beneficial. For adult, stuffed animals provide assurance, safety, and a sign telling them they are not alone. Adults are not invincible even if they're grown-ups. They also have feelings like fear of darkness, loneliness sleeping alone at night, just like we have when we are little. Adults usually have more stress and heavy workloads in their lives so the intensity of their negative feelings is stronger, that's why it's common for them to have these negative feeling feelings, and many of them turn to stuffed animals for calmness.
Do you have something you love cuddling or sleeping with when you were young and you still love them until now? Well, that blanket, doll, or stuffed animal might be your exclusive transitional object. Donald Woods Winnicott defined the concepts of transitional objects and transitional experience in 1951, according to his research and observation of infant development. In his own words, the transitional object is “a physical object or any material that an infant attributes a special value or bond in which makes the child be able to make the necessary shift from the earliest reliance on their mother to genuine object relationships.” So, a transitional object is something physical, which takes the place of a mother for the child when the mother-child relationship is interrupted whether intentionally or accidentally. Transitional objects are chosen by children themselves unconsciously, but instead purely based on their sensation. So you can always see a blanket, doll, stuffed animal, or pillow being chosen by infants since they are soothing and comfortable to sleep with.
The most common situation for adults and stuffed animals is transitional objects, and the features of this pattern are that adults are obsessed with items that are intimate to them since they're very young, and they are only fond of that single object. It is a positive relationship, even after they grow up.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
This is a more severe and extreme situation in adult and stuffed animal relationships. Although it is normal that the use of transitional objects can be prolonged to adult ages, for some people with mental issues, their heavy dependence on transitional objects like stuffed animal is a sign of BPD. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is featured with agitation, unstable personal relationships, unable to be alone for a long time, and an inability to calm down. It is typically caused by childhood trauma, or having irresponsible caregivers when they're little. Since they lack the ability to soothe themselves and control intense emotions on their own, stuffed animals are something they can use. There is psychological research conducted to show the relationship between BPD patients and TOs(transitional objects) like stuffed animals. But all in all, stuffed animals can help BPD patients to soothe themselves and lessen their anxiety. Below are two psychology papers you can read if you want to learn more.
Overly dependent on stuffed animals' companionship
Some people don't like going out for travel or even short trips because it is embarrassing to bring out their stuffed animals. In another scenario, people act more intimate with their stuffed animals rather than with their intimate partners. The two situations above both impact people's lives more or less, and they are red flags. If not treated in time, they will cause severe impacts. As for embarrassment, the data collected below will tell you there's no need to worry about bringing out your stuffed animals with you when traveling. Also, acting more intimate with stuffed animals than partners can be resolved by genuine conversation and explanation. They aren't big problems as long as you overcome the mental issues and resolve them in time.
Stuffed animals fetishism
Some people have Plushophilia. Plushophilia is a term made up of plushie and -philia. It is a certain sexual orientation that people have sexual feelings for stuffed animals or plush toys. Plushophiles modify their plushies with a hole or holes reminiscent of those found in sex toys, to allow them to sexually interact with their plushies. Although interacting with lifeless objects is harmless to other people, and everyone has the right to choose their own sexual preference, this orientation is usually thought to be unhealthy, mentally and hygienically.
How Many Adults Still Love And Own Stuffed Animals?
There are quite a lot of adults who still own at least one stuffed animal. In a survey conducted in 2017, every 4 out of 10 Americans still sleep with teddy bears. Although this is not the majority, it's enough to show the benefits of transitional objects and stuffed animals.
Psychological Explanations For Adults Sleeping With Stuffed Animals
According to Therapist Margaret Van Ackeren, LMFT, adults sleep with stuffed animals they have all the way from childhood because those toys bring them a sense of security and help them lessen negative feelings including anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc. The main function of stuffed animals used for sleeping is to provide soft and gentle physical contact with their owners to soothe and make them sound and assured.
10 Benefits of Stuffed Animals for Adults
Stuffed animals of good quality require premium materials to craft. From inside stuffing to outside fabric, appropriate materials should be chosen for different demands. And as we cuddle these stuffed animals when we were little, the sense of touch was stored in our brain, and we can always access that memory whenever we cuddle good stuffed animals. In that way, our brain may release dopamine so we could calm down, slow our breath and feel quiet and peaceful.
Mental health improvement
Like mentioned above, stuffed animals play the role of transitional objects, which have special bonds connected with their owners. Transitional objects are usually picked by little kids when they're young and serve as a replacement of their mother. So even if people have grown up, they can still find the similar feeling of mother from their old stuffed animal, and that means soothing, and assuring for them.
Sense of security
People who have special bonds with their stuffed animals usually treat them like real people. According to many people, they've imagined a certain role for their stuffed animals to make them acquaintances, which will make them feel safe when living alone.
Moving to college? Find a job but in another city? Many people will miss home badly after they leave for a more independent life. This is more explicit when there's only one kid in the family. The only child would feel lonely even when they're at home. Although now the internet is so versatile and convenient for communication, there's always good to have something physical. Stuffed animals are many people's choice. They are assigned with certain feelings, but most importantly, companionship, to make their owners feel less lonely.
Better sleep quality
A suitable stuffed animal will greatly improve one's sleeping quality. Stuffed animals with soft stuffing and smooth fabric will serve as good as or even better than normal pillows. That's why a lot of grown-ups would still choose to sleep with stuffed animals, even if for business trips. There are new designs for stuffed animals that are not only ergonomically suitable for sleeping, but the stuffing is also flowing sand-like, which makes the stuffed animals even softer.
Adults' world is complicated and frustrating. People always have so much to think about. Many of them are anxious and stressed all day long. Then a stuffed animal would work perfectly to release the stress after a long day of work. Stuffed animals for stress also tend to let brains release dopamine, yet it is different. They function more like fidget toys which people use for releasing stress as well. Stuffed animals are soft, they can be squeezed and pulled, and smashed to let people dump their negative thoughts.
Great memory carrier
Stuffed animals were probably our best friends when we were little. During the process, we get more independent. Stuffed animals are also witnesses to our growth. Quite a lot of times, we only share our secrets and words with them. Whenever we see them again, all the good and bad memories will bring us back to the time when you're young. It is such a good way to wake up your good old memories.
As mentioned above, although there's no research directly pointing out that stuffed animals can help cure childhood trauma, there is still research that there is a close relationship between patients with mental illnesses like BPD and trauma. And they can be used as a method to ease the symptoms of certain diseases
Stuffed animals can be great decorations for a house. There are many different types of stuffed animals, from the most common cute and beautiful stuffed animals to creepy, kinky-style stuffed animals. So stop saying stuffed animals are childish. There's always one that can fit with your "adult" taste.
Great gift for lover
Don't think it's a suitable idea to send a stuffed animal to your lover? Well, think again! It is such a romantic thing to send a stuffed animal that you choose deliberately for your boyfriend/girlfriend. The theme doesn't have to be cliche and is always about romance. You can pick something that he/she's interested in and show your understanding of him/her. It would be the best gift for Valentine's Day or Anniversary.
Is it weird for an adult to sleep with a stuffed animal?
Definitely not! It is natural for adults to have a stuffed animal and sleep with it. Don't get biased by haters on the Internet. It is not "fem" for guys to have it, nor "childish" for ladies to have it. It is something special and comfortable and should be enjoyed without any hesitation.
Can stuffed animals help with loneliness?
Yes, they can. A lot of people assign a role or a personality to a stuffed animal. Through their imagination, they can treat their stuffed toys like a person or a pet. It is a unique way of interaction, some might find awkward, but it is a very personal and private thing in the first place, so why don't you try that if you're lonely now? You can come to our store PlushThis to pick some cute stuffed animals for yourself.
Are stuffed animals good for depression?
It is not sure yet. There is no research showing direct evidence that stuffed animals are good for improving depression. However, stuffed animals can function as transitional objects, so it definitely can help ease depression symptoms.
In conclusion, stuffed animals are good for adults, and in a way adults need them more than little kids do since they have so much more pressure and stress all day. Sometimes, it's just the speech on the Internet makes people feel awkward and ashamed to love what they love. There are way more than 10 benefits of stuffed animals for adults, so if you're anxious or want to lie on something soft, why not come to PlushThis? We have the best stuffed animals made of the best fabric. There are also many styles like emo Plush and gothic stuffed animals for you. There must be one that you will love to cuddle with.