What is Age Regression?
Not everyone is aware that someone’s childish behaviour might not simply be a part of their personality but a defence mechanism that helps them cope with anxiety or stress. In some cases, it might even be a symptom of a mental health disorder or a state a person reverts to as a result of trauma.
In this blog, we’ll talk about what age regression is in more detail.
How Does Age Regression Work?
Age regression is defined as a psychological state in which someone might revert to a younger state of mind. As a result, they might stop acting their age and display behaviours typical for children, such as not being able to complete adult tasks and speaking in a baby voice.
While some people might feel just a few years younger than their biological age, others might revert to an even earlier stage of their development such as infancy.
Age regression isn’t seen as an inherently bad thing in psychology. For example, Sigmund Freud believed that it’s an unconscious coping mechanism used to protect a person from distress and Carl Jung saw it as a positive way to handle stress and believed that people revert to the age when they felt safer. However, age regression is often involuntary and can be triggered by stress or trauma.
It’s also often a symptom of:
– Dissociative identity disorder
– Borderline personality disorder
Signs of involuntary age regression can include whining, baby talk, throwing a tantrum or hugging a teddy bear while voluntary age regression refers to engaging in childlike activities such as thumb sucking, colouring, playing with toys or wearing children’s clothes.
How to Stop Age Regression
Age regression is typically experienced by those who were abused in childhood and tends to happen involuntarily. When a person is confronted with upsetting memories, they might unconsciously revert to a younger state of mind, often the one they were in when the trauma occurred.
Regressing to a younger age allows children to feel more secure but can become a long-term coping mechanism if it’s used to deal with trauma. For this reason, the best way to treat age regression is to address the underlying cause, learn to recognise emotional triggers and acquire new coping skills in therapy.
If you think you might experience age regression and want to get to the root of the problem, contact My Family Psychologist to see how we can help