Our Inner Child Doesn’t Grow: Peter Pan Syndrome

Peter Pan Syndrome

While it is important to protect our inner child, it is a kind of disease avoiding growing up and rejecting it. Some people don’t want to face with the responsibilities of adulthood and they even have a hard time acting like adults. Let’s take a closer look to this condition called “Peter Pan Syndrome”, which is more common in men.

What Is This Peter Pan Syndrome?

Peter Pan Syndrome, which can be defined as the desire to never grow up, was first introduced in 1983 by psychoanalyst Dan Kiley. This syndrome usually begins with the emergence of responsibilities and duties that come with being an adult. It is especially seen in men between the ages of 25-40. People with this syndrome are very afraid of being attached to someone while avoiding taking responsibilities. In situations that require taking responsibility and commitment, they feel that an obstacle is placed on their freedom and prefer to get away from that situation.

These people look for a country that exists only in their imaginations like Peter Pan. They usually try to avoid marriage and having children as much as possible. They prefer to live in the family home in order to continue their life carefree. Individuals with an overprotective family structure are more likely to be seen this syndrome. With this syndrome, children cannot develop themselves and feel inadequate. These people do not want to give up this comfort zone because they are used to it  which is provided by their families.

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People with Peter Pan Syndrome see the adult world as inextricable chaos. Therefore, they lose their motivation. These people avoid internal conflicts instead of figuring out how to mature. By returning to their inner world, they have problems in coping with and managing material issues.

How Can We Identify Peter Pan Syndrome?

The symptoms of Peter Pan Syndrome are related to inability to handle the normal world of work and human relationships and  need to escape adulthood as much as possible. Not everyone with Peter Pan Syndrome has all of these symptoms, but we can say that they have most of them. The most common symptoms of Peter Pan Syndrome are:

  • They postpone their work
  • They refuse to work
  • They are manipulators. At first, this person may seem attractive, but underneath his fun, smart, attractive appearance, he may be a manipulator who is afraid of change.
  • They try to justify their own inadequacies. They cannot stay at one job all the time. They try to escape by making excuses or whining.
  • They are thoughtful, but they are more in the foreground. They want to keep most people around, not because they love them, but because they meet their needs.
  • They are indecisive and their enthusiasm wears off quickly. They may like one thing today but easily like another tomorrow. They forget the past very quickly.
  • They are very likely to display addictive behaviors.
  • They fear and run away from long relationships and friendships.
  • If their relationship is starting to get serious, they will push it away and will find themselves moving towards a new relationship. Because these people are emotionally immature.

What Should Be Done, What Is The Treatment?

If you think someone close to you has Peter Pan Syndrome, you need to be careful. At this point, the attitude of their families and partners is extremely important for men with Peter Pan Syndrome to gain their own individuality. Parents need to be aware that their child is now an adult and should stop assuming their child’s responsibilities. If these men are married or have a relationship, their partners should also exhibit a similar attitude and stop acting as a mother and make the other party feel that they are individuals who can fulfill their responsibilities.

  • Calmly and rationally explain them how it affects you and others. Encourage them to consider how their behavior affects the people around them.
  • People with Peter Pan Syndrome are not usually reckless, they are simply trapped in their own emotions and experiences. So if they can begin to see and accept that things need to change, refer them to an expert counselor.
  • The counselor will help the person accept the lost childhood years and show that by denying adulthood they can never regain it. It will also help them take practical steps to change their lives.

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