Obsessions: Stephanie, Kathryn, Reborning

Doll Domination

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is a comedienne, mom and author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom. She meets with Kathryn, who says she can't live without her reborn dolls.

"So what is it about reborning that people get obsessed with?" Stefanie asks Kathryn as she looks around a room filled with dolls.

"They look like real children," Kathryn says.

"This has taken doll collecting in a completely different direction and has become this craze that people can't get enough of, these babies that look like babies," Stefanie says.

"Right, and some people make them to look like their children," she says.

"Do you think that's a little weird?" Stefanie asks.

"I think it could be if you don't have control," Kathryn says. She shows Stefanie her favorite reborn dolls. "That one's name is Ryan, and the reason I was attracted to him is because he reminds me of my grandson."

Kathryn takes Stefanie to her newly refurbished basement, where her doll-making shop is located. As she opens up a cabinet of unfinished doll parts, Stefanie cringes. "Oh, God. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? That looks like a horror movie!"

"That's just creepy to me," Dr. Phil tells Stefanie.

"It was creepy to me. I mean, when I first went there, I was concerned, just from the name alone " reborners? That sounds like a cult," Stefanie says.

Stefanie says Kathryn is a nice woman who's really into her dolls. "She has two rooms entirely devoted for the dolls " one is the feminine room and one is the masculine room. And there are, like, 20 real life-looking dolls in each room just kind of staring at you," she says. 

Once a month Kathryn hosts a "Doll Day" party for friends who also collect the dolls. She invites Stefanie to join the party to see what their hobby is all about.

Kathryn's friends bring over their favorite dolls to show off. Then, the women get busy in a workshop to create more. The term "reborning" refers to the process of creating the dolls. "It's in the process of being reborn," a woman explains. The women attach body parts, add hair and paint to make them look as lifelike as possible.

One party-goer explains that she misses the days when she had young children, and reborn dolls take her back to that time. She admits she sometimes finds herself rocking the doll, as if it were a real baby.

Back onstage, Kathryn shows Dr. Phil a doll named Trevor. She prefers her dolls to have their eyes closed, so they look like they're peacefully sleeping. Kathryn sees her hobby as more of an art form because of the amount of work that goes into creating each doll.

"Do you think you're too old to play with dolls?" Dr. Phil asks her.

"Yeah, probably," she admits.

"What some people would say " and it's true of people who become really engaged with pets, or dolls or whatever " is that it's just really low demand," Dr. Phil says. "You don't really have to do anything. You don't have to engage, you don't have to interact, and so it's a regressive sort of thing to a really low-demand relationship, so you don't have to engage in a healthy relationship." Dr. Phil adds that he doesn't think that of Kathryn. "You don't strike me that way at all." He says the doll collecting seems to be a healthy hobby for her.

Kathryn shares that she learned the hard way not to leave her dolls unattended in public -- someone almost called the police on her because they thought she left a real baby in her car!

Dr. Phil holds Kathryn's doll. "Wow, that is real-looking." Dr. Phil asks Kathryn, "How much have you put into this hobby?"

Kathryn considers her answer and responds, "Am I going to be on your segment for divorcees if I say this?"

"Maybe, but there won't be a custody fight!" Dr. Phil jokes.

Kathryn admits she may have spent as much as $40,000 to $50,000 over the last 14 years, but notes that estimate includes antique cribs, cradles and other accessories.

Dr. Phil doesn't think Kathryn's pastime is an obsession. "I vote hobby on this," he says.