Created By: Xtifr on September 20, 2012 Last Edited By: Xtifr on November 3, 2012
Nuked

My Baby Doll

A mother thinks a doll is her child.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
This was a premature launch, made with only four examples and two hats. After some discussion at TRS, we're sending it back for more examples, and possibly some help with the description and finding indexes. Previous YKTTW is here. Suggestions for alternate names or radical changes in the description may or may not need a crowner (that's still being discussed).

This is not my trope; I'm simply trying to fix something broken.

Indexes: The Parent Trope, Femininity Tropes, Madness Tropes

This trope is when a mother, in a delusion, thinks that a doll is her child. It can be caused by guilt due to Parental Abandonment, trauma or artificial means. But no matter the means, the result is that the mother treats a doll as her child. If the real child is still around, she may treat him as an impostor, for added irony and sadness. The best case scenario is that the mother is so wrapped up that she doesn't even realize that her real child is standing in front of her thinks that the child is a stranger. It can involve The Doll Episode.

Compare Egg Sitting. Not a case of Artificial Humans. Replacement Goldfish are different, as the original child may still alive, or may not exist at all. Also, being a Lonely Doll Girl or Living Doll Collector is not this. There is some Truth in Television here: there are women who purchase lifelike baby dolls and treat them as if they were real babies.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • The Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion. After the contact experiment with Unit 02, this fractured her psyche and led to her belief that the doll was Asuka. However, due to her psychotic nature, she decapitated at least one of the dolls and then committed a 'murder-suicide' with another. A young Asuka was the first to discover such a scene.
  • In Familiar Of Zero, Tabitha's mother drank a spiked drink meant for Tabitha, who is actually the next in line for the Galian throne. This resulted in her losing her mind and thinking that Tabitha's childhood doll was Tabitha herself, and that her daughter was an impostor sent to replace the doll. This leads to Tabitha leaving and adopting the name of her doll, Tabitha.

Film
  • In the Czech film Little Otik (aka Greedy Guts), an infertile couple adopt a wooden stump and treat it as though it were their living child.

Literature
  • In Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey, Talia encounters a Weather Witch whose child drowned when she wasn't attentive enough. She has gone mad from grief and guilt and is convinced that a rag doll wrapped in a blanket is her son.
  • In Phantom by Susan Kay, Erik hypnotizes his mother into believing a porcelain figurine is an infant. His reasons for doing so are...complicated.
  • In The Malloreon, Ce'Nedra is put into a hallucinatory state by the villain, Zandramas, who had previously abducted her baby. In order to find out where the good guys are headed, Zandramas pretends to be a friend of Ce'Nedra and to return her baby, but what she actually gives is a bundle of rags. Ce'Nedra is left crooning over the bundle and trying to show her compatriots how beautiful it is. In order to save her from undue stress, Polgara erases her memory of the event.
  • In "Overheard in an Asylum", a poem by Alfred Kreymborg, a doctor is talking to a child, saying calm, reassuring things. Then it's revealed that the child is a doll provided by the doctor to the mother.

Live-Action TV
  • Joy from Psychoville has a doll called "Freddie" that she is convinced is her real child. She even steals blood from the hospital where she works to give Freddie transfusions.
  • In The Haunting Hour: The Series episodes "Really You" and "Really You 2", Lily's mom starts treating Lily D (the doll) more like her daughter than the real Lily. Justified in part 2 because she just realizes that Lily D and Lily have switched places.
  • In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • They find a women walking around the park with a plastic baby doll, she says that after god took her real baby he gave her one who could never die. They take the baby from her and refuse to give it back until she says whether she kidnapped a real missing baby
    • In another episode, a woman who'd suffered brain damage in a bus accident lost the ability to recognize her real daughter's face, treating the girl as if she were an impostor. Instead, the woman became obsessed with an online video game, and fixated on the virtual "child" of her online avatar as her "son". When the police take her and her boyfriend into custody for neglecting her real daughter, she cries and yells because they'd hauled her away from the video screen when her "son" was in in-game danger.
  • In the Smallville episode "Memoria" Lex is sitting on a high balcony, in the rain, apparently hallucinating that he is rocking his baby brother Julian to sleep. He's singing to the blanket and tells his father to be quiet or he'll wake the baby. He thinks he found the baby inside of his dorm, crying and told Julian that he'd never let anyone hurt him again.
  • Crazy Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer spends much of her time mothering dolls, particularly "Miss. Edith". She even punishes them for perceived bad behaviour; eg., excluding them from playing with the rest or denying them meals.
  • Invoked in the outrageous comedy series Gimme Gimme Gimme. Linda de Hughes is given a doll to use for Egg Sitting, to help her with anger management issues, and some passing strangers leap to the conclusion that's she's deranged and an example of this trope, which enrages her, and causes her to attack them with the doll.
In Desperate Housewives, when Gaby found out that her daughter had been exchanged when she gave birth, she started searching and found the other (her biological daughter)girl, and coming to realize that she couldn't keep her near her she bought an expensive doll and started to play with her, talk to her as real person, at first this is dismissed by the other characters, but when she and Carlos are about to go out, and arguing about the doll (which was in the back sit) they get robbed and told to step out of the car, Gaby refuses to let the doll even tough the robber had a loaded gun, and tries to retrieve it, yelling "My daughter!" Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: Homer takes a quiz that indicates he's going to die and goes a little crazy. At the plant he's found "nursing" a doll (missing an arm). His theory is that if he's a mother he can't die.

Radio
  • The Ricky Gervais Show: Karl Pilktington tells a story about a homeless lady who used to walk around town pushing a baby carriage. It turned out that inside was a bucket with a face painted on it.

Theatre
  • In the play The Curious Savage Florence, one of the inmates in the sanitarium, has a doll she thinks is her deceased son.
  • Saeda, in Eve Ensler's play Necessary Targets holds a bundle of blankets as a proxy for her lost daughter, Doona (whom she dropped when escaping from soldiers).

Video Games
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Raine's mother Virginia has freaks out due to the guilt of sending her and her brother Genius through the Otherwordly Gate and not being able to go through, too. Also, the loss of her husband (a human) didn't help. This results in her living in a house on Exile talking to a doll as if it were a 5-year-old Raine. The problem is that a now fully grown Raine is trying to get her to realize she [Raine] is her daughter.
  • In BioShock, one of the first female splicers run across is a mother who is increasingly desperate that her baby isn't moving. After she attacks you in a rage and you kill her, looking into the baby carriage reveals a handgun. Did we mention splicer's tend to be insane?
    • For bonus points you can steal it and then shoot her with it.
  • In The Sims 2, a Family sim who falls into Aspiration Desperation will draw a face on a sack of flour and start cradling it/talking to it like it's a baby.
  • In the What If? game Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, Frank West finds a broken Chuck Greene who has gone crazy due of the trauma of having his daughter Katey die before the games events. He carries a Katey sized doll on his back and claims that it's his daughter and that he won't ever let anything happen to her. And yes, you have to fight him.

Community Feedback Replies: 56
  • September 20, 2012
    ccoa
    • In Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey, Talia encounters a Weather Witch whose child drowned when she wasn't attentive enough. She has gone mad from grief and guilt and is convinced that a rag doll wrapped in a blanket is her son.
  • September 20, 2012
    polarbear2217
    In The Haunting Hour episodes "Really You" and "Really You 2", Lily's mom starts treating Lily D (the doll) more like her daughter than the real Lily. Justified in part 2 because she just realizes that Lily D and Lily have switched places.
  • September 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Is that a TV series?
  • September 21, 2012
    polarbear2217
    ^Yes. Sorry, I forgot the "The", so it didn't link to the page.
  • September 21, 2012
    abk0100
    • The Ricky Gervais Show: Karl Pilktington tells a story about a homeless lady who used to walk around town pushing a baby carriage. It turned out that inside was a bucket with a face painted on it.

    That counts, right? It's not quite a doll, but I assume it's close enough.
  • September 21, 2012
    Koveras
  • September 21, 2012
    Karalora
    In Phantom by Susan Kay, Erik hypnotizes his mother into believing a porcelain figurine is an infant. His reasons for doing so are...complicated.
  • September 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • The Simpsons:
      • Homer takes a quiz that indicates he's going to die and goes a little crazy. At the plant he's found "nursing" a doll (missing an arm). His theory is that if he's a mother he can't die.
      • In another episode Ralph Wiggum goes crazy due to too much sugar and can't find his (invisible) baby.
  • September 21, 2012
    lexicon
    • In Smallville Lex thought a rolled up blanket was his dead baby brother.
  • September 21, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^^ Since you specified an author, I'm guessing...literature?

    ^^^^ I think a bucket with a face painted on it meets some reasonable definition of "doll". :)

    Other suggestions: an invisible baby does not fit the trope. The Smallville suggestion is closer, but I'm not sure that brothers really count. Fatherhood, maybe, so I'll accept Homer Simpson, but brotherhood may be stretching this too far. I might change my mind if a good argument is presented, but I'd want to hear something like "he treated it with an affection bordering on the maternal".

    That said, wow, I thought it was going to take a lot longer to come up with some decent examples. Thanks, everyone!
  • September 21, 2012
    Earnest
    This pic is from the movie Little Otik (also known as Greedy Guts), and combines this trope with Love Imbues Life and all sorts of Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • September 21, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Interesting, but is it an example? This is basically a trope about Mothers Gone Mad.

    (Also, I think a pic of a more conventional doll might illustrate the trope better, though that's certainly a vivid and interesting picture, and I can't reject it out-of-hand.)
  • September 21, 2012
    Earnest
    Ooh, before I forget, a videogame example.

    • In Bio Shock, one of the first female splicers run across is a mother who is increasingly desperate that her baby isn't moving. After she attacks you in a rage and you kill her, looking into the baby carriage reveals a handgun. Did we mention splicer's tend to be insane?
  • September 21, 2012
    Generality
    • In The Malloreon, Ce'Nedra is put into a hallucinatory state by the villain, Zandramas, who had previously abducted her baby. In order to find out where the good guys are headed, Zandramas pretends to be a friend of Ce'Nedra and to return her baby, but what she actually gives is a bundle of rags. Ce'Nedra is left crooning over the bundle and trying to show her compatriots how beautiful it is. In order to save her from undue stress, Polgara erases her memory of the event.
  • September 21, 2012
    Earnest
    ^^^ Yep, it's an example. An infertile couple treat the stump as though it were their living child.
  • September 21, 2012
    cygnavamp
    Truth In Television: There are women who purchase lifelike baby dolls and treat them as if they were real babies.
  • September 21, 2012
    dante8
    A poem by Alfred Kreymborg:

    Overheard In An Asylum

    AND here we have another case quite different from the last, another case quite different -- Listen.

    Baby, drink. The war is over. Mother's breasts are round with milk.

    Baby, rest. The war is over. Only pigs slop over so.

    Baby, sleep. The war is over. Daddy's come with a German coin.

    Baby, dream. The war is over. You'll be a soldier too.

    Yes, we gave her the doll -- Now there we have another case quite different from --

  • September 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the play The Curious Savage Florence, one of the inmates in the santiorium, has a doll she thinks is her deceased son.
  • September 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^ I really like the poem, but I had a hard time making it fit as an example, with the proper formatting and everything, so I just gave a brief summary.
  • September 22, 2012
    DracMonster
    Might broaden this a bit, sometimes its something other than an actual doll when the "mother" is really delusional, like a rock wrapped in cloth.

    Infant Substitution Delusion?

    Or Darling Baby Substitute Object? (If you do restrict to dolls, Darling Baby Substitute Doll would be clearer)
  • September 22, 2012
    lexicon
    You'd want to hear something like "he treated it with an affection bordering on the maternal?"

    • In the Smallville episode Memoria Lex is sitting on a high balcony, in the rain, apparently hallucinating that he is rocking his baby brother Julian to sleep. He's singing to the blanket and tells his father to be quiet or he'll wake the baby. He thinks he found the baby inside of his dorm, crying and told Julian that he'd never let anyone hurt him again.
  • September 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^ I think the definition of doll is broad enough to cover rocks dressed up like babies. Tropes Are Flexible. As for the concept of other names, I'm neutral. If there's strong agreement on another name, I'll be happy to go with that, but I'm not excited by any of those suggestions.
  • September 22, 2012
    Bravefrog
    • there's an episode of Law And Order Special Victims Unit where a they find a women walking around the park with a plastic baby doll, she says that after god took her real baby he gave her one who could never die. They take the baby from her and refuse to give it back until she says whether she kidnapped a real missing baby

    @Earnest thanks for scaring the crap out of me before I realized what that thing was

  • September 22, 2012
    abk0100
    I know you said you'd prefer a pic of a more conventional doll, but what about this for an image? It seems like it gets the point across.


  • September 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Maybe. What's it from? I do think an actual doll would be better, but that one's worth considering.
  • September 22, 2012
    axordil
    Does it have to be the mother/"mother" and not the father/sibling (See Smallville example above)?
  • September 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ As I mentioned at the top, this isn't my trope. It's a repair-shop job, and I'm just trying not to bend or break it too much. Just gathering examples and whatnot. That said, I simply overlooked the revised Smallville example, and the new version does look a lot better. I'm a little wary of borderline examples leading to even-more borderline examples leading to definition drift, but I'm inclined to accept the revised example.
  • September 22, 2012
    SailorKitty
    • In The Sims 2, a Family sim who falls into Aspiration Desperation will draw a face on a sack of flour and start cradling it/talking to it like it's a baby.
  • September 22, 2012
    SailorKitty
    Does this one count?

    • Crazy Drusilla from Buffythe Vampire Slayer spends much of her time mothering dolls, particularly "Miss. Edith". She even punishes them for perceived bad behaviour; eg., excluding them from playing with the rest or denying them meals.
  • September 23, 2012
    Earnest
    @Bravefrog: You're welcome. =)
  • September 23, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Although there are very few male examples, there's no reason the trope needs to be gender-specific.
  • September 23, 2012
    peccantis
  • September 23, 2012
    abk0100
    @Xtifr: it's from the animated adaption of the Ricky Gervais Show example I mentioned.
  • September 24, 2012
    Chabal2
    If non-maternal examples qualify, there's Artemis Fowl's mother in the first book. Having never gotten over her husband's disappearance, she dresses up a dressmaker's dummy as her husband and talks to it. Fortunately, she gets cured by magic by the end (her husband reappearing in a later book doesn't hurt either).
  • September 24, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ That sounds more like Replacement Goldfish, but I'm not entirely sure where we should draw the line here. Earlier I was asking for maternal, but not necessarily a mother. This example seems like the opposite of that, and I'm afraid I may already be stretching the definition. I don't want to stretch it to the point that it breaks. I was thinking this should go on a motherhood index if we have one (surely we do?) as well as a madness index of some sort. But I'm willing to listen to counter-arguments. I just don't want this to become a dumping ground for any "person has a relationship with inanimate object" example, because I don't think that's this trope.
  • September 24, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Here's a possibly suitable image of Joy from Psychoville - I don't know how to get it onto TV tropes so I'll shamelessly hotlink it for now:


  • September 24, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ might be a little better if we could get a clear shot of the face, but that's pretty good. Seems fairly obvious that it's a doll.
  • September 25, 2012
    lexicon
    I think a picture should reflect the affection bordering on the maternal, which none of these do. As for indexing, there's The Parent Trope, Femininity Tropes, and Madness Tropes.
  • September 28, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Better picture would be better, but at least a couple of these seem to convey the trope well enough that they're better than no image. So, unless you actually have a better pic to suggest....

    Good suggestions on the indexes. Thanks.
  • September 29, 2012
    DoktorvonEurotrash
    Another name suggestion: Inanimate Surrogate Child. That said, I like peccantis' Inanimate Baby Substitute even better.

    Just about anything is better than My Baby Doll, though. It's completely non-indicative.
  • September 29, 2012
    Boston
    Saeda, in Eve Ensler's play "Necessary Targets" holds a bundle of blankets as a proxy for her lost daughter, Doona (whom she dropped when escaping from soldiers).
  • September 30, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^I'd prefer something a little less like pseudo-scientific technobabble. Maybe Doll As Child? In any case, the claim that this is "completely non-indicative" is clearly false. The current name is potentially misleading, but it does suggest the trope. We have far more potentially-misleading names that are performing just fine, and not actually misleading anyone. I have no particular attachment to the current name, but I dislike hyperbole.

    To disprove your claim that "just about anything is better", I only have to point to the original name at the first YKTTW: "Soryu Syndrome". That is what "non-indicative" means.
  • October 1, 2012
    lexicon
    I think My Baby Doll has more emphasis on the nurturing while the last picture has a doll but emphasis on the craziness. They could work together. I also like that My Baby Doll is in simple English but I think it sounds better than Doll As Child.

    Compare Egg Sitting.
  • October 1, 2012
    Xtifr
    Since I don't feel strongly about the name, and other opinions seem to be across the map, maybe a crowner would be the best approach? If so, let's get as many suggestions as we can first.
  • October 11, 2012
    Xtifr
    I don't know. Maybe Inanimate Baby Substitute works. Surely there's more opinions out there? This is just a repair shop job, so I don't want to spend forever on it, and aside from the question of the name, I think we're looking pretty good here.
  • October 11, 2012
    lexicon
    I like the simplicity of My Baby Doll, a person treating a thing like a doll as an actual baby. Egg Sitting would also count as Inanimate Baby Substitute, only the person knows that it's a substitute.
  • October 12, 2012
    SharleeD
    If a virtual child counts as a "doll", here's another example:

    • In another Law And Order SVU episode, a woman who'd suffered brain damage in a bus accident lost the ability to recognize her real daughter's face, treating the girl as if she were an impostor. Instead, the woman became obsessed with an online video game, and fixated on the virtual "child" of her online avatar as her "son". When the police take her and her boyfriend into custody for neglecting her real daughter, she cries and yells because they'd hauled her away from the video screen when her "son" was in in-game danger.
  • October 14, 2012
    AgProv
    Live Action TV: in outrageous comedy Gimme Gimme Gimme, foul-mouthed harridan Linda La Hughes (the magnificent Kathy Burke) is given one of those baby dolls to bring out her maternal side and hopefully act as an anger-management technique to stop her randomly laying people out in frustrating circumstances. She takes her new "baby" out for a walk and glumly plays with the doll. Two passing well-intentioned-strangers - typical North London yuppies - come to entirely the wrong conclusion, and assume Linda is, er, mentally disadvantaged, an educationally subnormal adult with a beloved baby doll. Naturally Linda reacts badly to be being patronised. With a yell of "Are you takin' the piss? I'm not a facking retard!" her fists clench, and she lays about her - with the doll...
  • October 15, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Well, that's technically a case of Egg Sitting, but this trope is clearly invoked, so I guess that works, though I may need to rephrase a bit.
  • October 27, 2012
    Madrugada
    Name suggestion: Baby Doll Baby
  • October 28, 2012
    RoseBride
    In Desperate Housewives when Gaby found out that her daughter had been exchanged when she gave birth, she started searching and found the other (her biological daughter)girl, and coming to realize that she couldn't keep her near her she bought an expensive doll and started to play with her, talk to her as real person, at first this is dismissed by the other characters, but when she and Carlos are about to go out, and arguing about the doll (which was in the back sit) they get robbed and told to step out of the car, Gaby refuses to let the doll even tough the robber had a loaded gun, and tries to retrieve it, yelling "My daughter!"
  • October 28, 2012
    socks
    In Lost, after Claire is separated from her infant son Aaron, she constructs a very creepy replacement out of an animal skull, and some bits of fur. Fans christened it her "squirrel baby".
  • October 28, 2012
    GameKeeper28
    • In the What If game Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, Frank West finds a broken Chuck Greene who has gone crazy due of the trauma of having his daughter Katey die before the games events. He carries a Katey sized doll on his back and claims that it's his daughter and that he won't ever let anything happen to her.
  • October 29, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^ Sounds like Replacement Goldfish, unless there's evidence she actually believed it was her child. Anyone who's seen the show want to comment on whether it's actually an example?
  • October 30, 2012
    lexicon
    Please add to the description: Compare Lonely Doll Girl.
  • November 3, 2012
    Xtifr
    Ok, I've updated the trope. I'm marking this as discarded, but really, it's just...done. I don't want to see what happens if I try to launch an already existing trope. It's linked from the trope's discussion page.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=eyjvqzo7gjhygtv65fpp0dwh&trope=DiscardedYKTTW