In the wake of the mother of octuplets in California, there has been quite a bit of discussion over whether Ms. Suleman may suffer from "baby addiction" given how many children she already had even before the 8 new arrivals.
A century ago it was perfectly normal for a family to have a handful, or even a double handful, of children. Of course, mortality rates were far higher back then, and children were expected to contribute to helping provide and care for the family; as a family grew larger life could become easier for everyone in later years through collaboration of efforts.
In today's society, things are substantially different, and families with more than a few children are looked at skeptically. But what is the difference between a desire to have a big family and "baby addiction"? The answer seems to primarily rest in the psychology of the mother.
Women who become addicted to that absolute dependence, or to the feelings associated with having a newborn around, may be perfectly content with their families... up until there isn't a newborn present any longer, and then the urge to have a new baby sets in. It's when those urges run counter to the best interests of the family, especially with regard to the capability to provide and care for more children, that baby addiction becomes harmful.
Experts are quick to point out that there are plenty of big, happy families that are not the result of baby addiction. They also emphasize that children in small families can suffer emotional scars, too, from absentee or otherwise poor parents.