Peter Pan Syndrome

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Peter Pan Syndrome is a deep-rooted belief that one must never grow up. It is named after the legendary character of the same name who lived in Neverland, a place where kids are immune to aging. Those afflicted by Peter Pan Syndrome are said to be adults who cling to their childhood for fear of assuming responsibilities. They look upon the naive security of youth as an ideal state of being.

[edit] Like Peter Pan

Though they chronologically grow older, they have not grown up. Like Peter Pan they break societal norms to serve their own purposes and don’t care much for the feelings and rights of others. They want all the power but are not willing to share the responsibilities, not ready to sacrifice and reject moral structures which are part of mature adulthood.

As the World Health Organization has not yet recognized Peter Pan Syndrome as a psychological disorder, the syndrome is not currently considered a psychopathology.

Psychologists make a clear distinction between Peter Pan Syndrome and other, more serious, mental conditions involving adults who behave as children both emotionally and mentally. This is because it is often found that people suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome are mentally fully developed adults who often carry professional activities requiring strong intellectual skills.

[edit] Overprotective parents responsible

Leading psychologists warn that overprotective parents can be responsible for this disorder as this prevents them from developing necessary skills to confront life.

Though Peter Pan Syndrome affects both men and women, it is found more among men.

Psychologist Dan Kiley, who defined ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ in 1983, also used the term ‘Wendy Syndrome’ to describe women who act like mothers with their partners or people close to them. Wendy is said to be behind every Peter Pan, taking his every decision and responsibility.

[edit] Associated with narcissism

Peter Pan Syndrome is often associated with narcissism, though not in the negative, self-centered sense. They are attracted to introspection in an attempt to find that imaginative comfort inside their own minds. On a positive sense this characteristic is seen as being in touch with the unbridled imaginational freedom of childhood. While succumbing to the prescribed order of things, most people forget all that they knew as an idealistic child, the eternal child is able to draw from their own raw, creative energy to remind us of how colorful life really is.

[edit] Effects of male socialization

Dan Kiley’s book, The Peter Pan Syndrome, is based on research on of the effects of male socialization on relationships. Males diagnosed with having this syndrome were found to exhibit the following psychological traits:

  • Either exaggerated or paralyzed emotions
  • Anger taking extreme form of rage
  • Joy turning into hysteria
  • Disappointment grows and develops into depression or self-pity

As a result males diagnosed with this syndrome find it difficult to express love, refuse to share feelings, feel guilty and have difficulty relaxing. Men with Peter Pan Syndrome find it difficult to make genuine friends and as a result feel desperately alone.

They don’t feel sorry for inappropriate actions but blame others for their shortcomings. This helps them take the focus away from their own limitations and vulnerabilities. They may resort to alcohol or drug abuse to escape from the challenges of daily life.

[edit] Relationships with parents

Men suffering from the Peter Pan Syndrome display the following traits in their relationship with parents:

  • Are obsessed with their mothers
  • Have estranged relationship with the father
  • They believe that it is not possible to obtain the father’s love and approval
  • They have difficulty interacting with figures of authority
  • Are not mature emotionally
  • Exhibit silly behavior
  • Hide their inner insecurity with macho attitude

[edit] Relationships with women

When the male forms attachment with a woman they

  • Are prone to extreme jealousy and violent outbursts
  • Cannot accept a woman asserting any independence. Becomes easily provoked and gets into fits of rage

He becomes protective of the woman only if her dependence on him is complete. The fear of impotency and rejection contributes to verbally abusive behavior. Though he may appear strong and assertive to the woman, in reality he feels threatened by her independence. They are unable to share their own sensitivity with women as they fear appearing weak and unmanly in front of friends.

[edit] Peter Pan overachievers

The world is also composed of Peter Pan overachievers. They are eternal children who also have a competitive spirit. They conform to the conventions of the adult world to escape once they lay their hands on the resources required to escape. They can be successful businessmen with a childlike view of the world. Their success often stems from their refusal to lead a 9 to 5 life.

All the time the Peter Pan overachiever is looking for another eternal child with whom he can run away.

[edit] References

  • What Is Peter Pan Syndrome?
  • Narcissism And Peter Pan Syndrome
  • Male Socialization
  • Overprotecting Parents Can Lead Children To Develop 'Peter Pan Syndrome'