J.M.Barrie wrote Peter pan as a character who never grew up. A boy who always stayed a boy.
Some adults don’t want to grow up but no magic stops them from growing. They grip on to the carefree childhood experiences by not taking responsibility for adulthood. Dr. Dan Kiley came up with this term in 1983. Peter Pan syndrome was largely associated with men however later it was associated with women as well.
They live by the mantra “I can’t adult today” every day. These are people with adult bodies and the mind of a child. The reasons can be both: Either they don't want to grow up or they are unable to grow up.
Peter Pan syndrome is a pop-psychology term, used as a metaphor to denote people with a brain of a boy into a body of an adult. It is also referred to as Peter Panners and failure-to-launch syndrome. Peter Pan syndrome has not been identified as a disorder in DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) or ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision). Many practitioners agree on it having destructive patterns affecting relationships and quality of life.
Identifying Peter Pan Syndrome
It is difficult for people with peter pan syndrome to make it alone in the world. They let work pile up until there is no way out but to do it. They show signs of emotional unavailability. Frequently have emotional outbursts while dealing with stressful situations, blame others for shortcomings, and fear negative evaluation. They constantly avoid productively dealing with issues. They form unrealistic goals like being a pro athlete or being a famous singer or professional traveler without any skills or efforts to achieve them.
Narcissism v/s Peter Pan Syndrome
Narcissism is often talked about during discussions on peter pan syndrome. Many show narcissistic tendencies but only a few met the criteria for NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Peter Pan syndromes narcissistic tendencies are extreme compensations for low self-esteem and poor self-worth. It is explained that by having fewer achievements and accomplishments to show they feel others will disrespect them.
Factors responsible for Peter Pan Syndrome
Having overprotective or permissive parents result in a child not learning necessary adulting skills such as being under the aegis of protective parents who have always been involved and been around to help. This creates an anxious and insecure foundation for adulthood. On the other hand, having permissive parents leads to severe insecurities. This is carried forward in their future relationships.
Having the playful outlook of a child could help reduce stress and improve health in the long run. The transformation from a child to an adult is a long journey. The metamorphosis from a child to man requires restructuring perspectives, thought processes, moving on, accepting heartaches, and a lot more. However, preserving the innocence and creativity of a child while growing up is different from Peter Pan Syndrome. It is said, "The creative adult is the child survived".
Peter Pan syndrome goes beyond playfulness and carefree outlook towards life it is when this attitude beginnings to creep up in each aspect of a person’s life that becomes problematic. A person with Peter Pan syndrome lives in the world of wishful thinking and when it comes to executing a thought into real life, it threatens the comfort zone.
If you feel you or someone you know might have better Peter Pan syndrome the first step is to question why don’t you want to adult? It is possible to make changes on your own. Failing to make them pushes you back into the trap.
In case, you feel you, or someone is having Peter Pan syndrome, then you shouldn't hesitate to consult a counselor!