Peter Pan Syndrome – Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, Test


What is Peter Pan Syndrome?

Peter Pan Syndrome is a disorder in which a man is unable to grow into maturity. They may grow physically as an adult but choose to hang on to their childhood in avoidance of assuming responsibility like a mature person. They are men who stay as boys inside. They are also imprisoned in the result given by the freedom of youth. The term “Peter Pan syndrome” is derived from the book “Peter Pan” written by J.M. Barrie about a boy who doesn’t want to grow up and lives in Neverneverland where people do not grow old. Peter pan syndrome can affect both men and women, but it is most often seen in the male population.

Peter Pan Syndrome symptomsPeter Pan Syndrome symptoms & signs

What are the Symptoms of Peter Pan Syndrome?

Signs and symptoms are based on the following:

  • Either excessive outbursts of emotion or blunt in affect.
  • Anger to the point of wrath
  • Happiness that turns into extreme panic
  • Frustration that leads to self-pity and depression.
  • They have difficulty expressing feelings of love
  • They always feel guilty
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Undependable
  • Manipulative tendencies

Individuals with this syndrome have a hard time building strong and genuine relationship with peers; as a result they feel extremely alone. They are also not bothered by the wrong things that they have done, instead they blame others for their frailties. They tend to move away from real problems concerning their weaknesses, which can cause them to use prohibited drugs and abuse alcohol in an attempt to escape the obstacles of life.

What Causes Peter Pan Syndrome?

Overprotective Parents

According to the top psychologist, Peter Pan Syndrome may be a result of overprotective parents because it hinders the child from growing to maturity and to exhibit their own skills to face life’s challenges. Peter pan syndrome was defined by psychologist Dan Kiley, in 1983. According to him, in every Peter Pan there is a shadow of a “Wendy”. Thus, he also used the term “Wendy Syndrome” for those women who act behind their partners and friends as a motherly figure.

Link with Narcissism

Peter Pan Syndrome is related to narcissism, but not in the egotistical sense. They tend to be absorbed with imaginative comfort in their minds which attractes them to introspection. This leads them to be imprisoned by childhood fantasy, not the realities and difficulties of life that they need to overcome.

Genetics

Peter Pan Syndrome is not a genetically inherited syndrome. It is acquired by:

  • Environmental influences, in which an individual may inhibit it by how they were raised by their parents.
  • Factors such as the so-called “Wendy Syndrome”.

Diagnosis

It may be diagnosed when an individual exhibits the signs and symptoms of Peter Pan Syndrome. However, this disorder is not yet medically accepted by the WHO (World Health Organization) and not yet acknowledged by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder. It is regarded as Psychopathology.



How to Treat Peter Pan Syndrome

Since Peter Pan Syndrome is not yet recognized as a psychological disorder, there are no defining treatments. There are therapies such as the wilderness therapy, which covers psychodrama, cognitive behavioral therapy, strength-based therapies, solution-focused therapy, transpersonal counseling, family therapy, and other treatment modalities such as:

  • The Healing Sound of Silence. This is where the individual is kept away from refocusing on other things that will lead to addiction, such as watching TV, computer games, Internet, alcohol and drug abuse. Instead, they are focused on the real issues about themselves; they start with the basics on how to learn to face the real problems of life.
  • Embracing the 12 Step Philosophies. This is a wilderness expedition where they go out camping and hiking in four cycles, in which they learn to share their experiences and prepare themselves for the next tour. The 12 philosophies is a program that covers meetings in the field camp and in the community, for them to be able to recognize support systems that are available during the 12 steps program. Since this kind of therapy occurrs during camp outs, adventure based counseling is done. They begin to be aware of the consequences of their actions and not only to focus on themselves. They also learn self care and eventually realize that every individual in the group is a part of the whole system, and that they are a reflection of a family and each and every one of them has a role and a purpose.
  • Transforming into an Effective Adult. This is the so-called “wake up call” for the family, in which a Peter Pan-like person begins to take responsibility. This is the result of the four cycles of wilderness therapy when they begin to be a leader and taking care and reaching out to each and every member of the group.

Even though there is no established cure for the disease, the only time that the person with Peter Pan Syndrome is treated is when the individual shows willingness and awareness of their disorder.

Prognosis

Since Peter Pan Syndrome is still unrecognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and WHO there is no clear prognosis about the disorder. Individuals with this disorder may undergo therapies, but there is still no established way to treat the syndrome.

Life expectancy

Peter Pan Syndrome is still a psychological issue, so there is no established and exact measure of the individual’s life expectancy. The tendency of the person having the disorder to be cured is still unknown.

Complications

The major complication of Peter Pan Syndrome for individuals having the disorder is not being able to build strong relationships. They remain unsuccessful at facing fears and responsibilities, and may also acquire other psychological disorders. According to research, people having Peter Pan Syndrome have very low self-esteem, are unmotivated and feel depressed. Individuals having Peter Pan Syndrome do not usually exhibit the self-confidence, motivation and determination that are keys for being successful.

Prevention

Since Peter Pan Syndrome is a disorder caused by factors during childhood, any prevention measures should be directed at parents and their awareness on how to raise a child. Parenting seminars should be organized, especially for teenage parents so they are aware of techniques to teach their children about responsibilities. However, the environmental factors still need to be considered when raising a child. Proper values and education are important and children should also be surrounded by the right people as role models.

Proofreaded for grammar and quality by Chris on 30/8/2012



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42 Responses to “Peter Pan Syndrome – Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, Test”

  • Brian says:

    Truly, a parent’s action dictate the development of Peter Pan syndrome. For first time parents who do not know how to bring up children, it is better to receive counselling and seek consult from experts in child care.

  • Kate says:

    I see that Peter Pan syndrome results in not being able to be mature and assuming a boy’s role despite mature age. What is the difference then in metal retardation where a person also is not able to mature his mental abilities?

    • levi b says:

      The disease is more psychological as opposed to mental, hence the term mental retardation. Please think before you write, and please spellcheck before you press post comment. Ta. Xxxx

  • Truth says:

    Not that anyone cares but from the gay perspective, the parents and the upbringing have nothing to do with this. Peter Pan syndrome is an epidemic within the gay community and I’ve withnessed the extremes of it as I have aged. As the article states, narcissism is the root cause here which is based on deep self-esteem issues. Just my opinion from the “front lines”.

  • Sami says:

    You guys don’t know what you’re talking about. Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with it I’m a 13 year old straight girl and I have Peter pan syndrome. Over protective parenting can trigger Peter pan syndrome at any age it’s not the only way but it’s a big one. Im one of the lucky teens with pps with a complete baby face and I’m short for my age but that won’t last forever. I won’t et into the details but it’s stinks having pps and ANYBODY can have it

    • Anonymous says:

      But you’re 13?! You ARE still a child!

    • amethyst rose says:

      this makes me laugh… you’re not old enough to have this syndrome

      • Leila says:

        “Old enough?” I’m dealing with a 15 1/2 year old granddaughter with an extreme case of pps and she has told me many times that she “doesn’t want to grow up”…..refuses to “learn” anything that relates to her future life, “expects” that all good things will “just happen” or “oh well”, she completes the picture with rages at anything that does not go her way. Trying to “force reality” on her is my biggest problem so far in 73 years of living….not easy……

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, ur only a child yet and can make changes in ur life going forward. Wait till ur 48 like we have had experience watching our son go through.

    • Mark says:

      You’re simply not old enough to have this syndrome. Get out little girl.. the adults need to talk about adult things. Go play with your cell phone and post compromising pictures on the Internet like all the other little brainwashed girls.

      • Lauren says:

        how could you possibly know if she has PPS or not? you don’t know the whole story and if that is what you think little girls do all the time, then maybe she is already doing it.

  • […] weet je of jouw man een Peter Pan is? Nou simpel, puberaal gedrag, angst voor binding, onverantwoord gedrag, narcisme, manipulatie, […]

  • […] for Peter Pan Syndrome may need new approaches and its efficacy may not yet be fully established according to a research […]

  • Rumu says:

    I am 23+yrs old. i have also same problem but cause is little bit different my parents are not over protective.they are normal..so what will be my treatment..thanks…

  • […] were raised by single mothers who were unavailable. Either way, they are stunted, playing out the Peter Pan syndrome, not wanting to grow up, not pursuing their passions, they talk the talk, but often do not walk the […]

  • Anonymous says:

    what about females with these symptoms?

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been involved with a “man” who has PPS. I have been searching for information about him until I was told about PPS recently by a friend. He matches it perfectly. It has been the most undesirable relationship I have ever encountered or want to remember. He was always trying to make me feel I was doing wrong when I tried to discuss anything of importance. My advice, if you find yourself with someone who has it, get out of the relationship ASAP. They try to distort your world by manipulating you. It is horrible! Their lack of self, self esteem and reality is understated in all information I have read. This one also began using drugs as he progressed into his fantasy world and as he was getting older. He actually believes he now is an alien from another world/planet and was a warrior in his past life. and his so called life friends laugh at him. SCARY…… need I say more. They (he) progressively got worse in my opinion. Doctors, make this come to light and help women who find themselves in relationships with PPS types also. I truly believe they will they hurt someone as it gets worse. (e.g. aggressive behavior when questioned). He stole from many to support his newer User habits (marijuana 1st choice is how he began, not even sure how worse it had gotten because I don’t do drugs). After I suspected his problems were getting worse, I did some digging online (watching his habits of web sites visited) only to find BABY porn and TEEN porn. They are very sick individuals and lie extensively to cover their hatred towards women in my opinion. Mommy problems for sure! Believe me when I say it is the exact behaviors as stated above but progresses as they get older. His age now 48. Run women run (for your lives). When any man expects a women to take care of him because he has excuses for always getting into financial or other difficulties, get out!! You deserve better and don’t let him MANIPULATE you in thinking otherwise. It’s their issue, let it be! Did I say RUN already? !!! Sticking around is not good advice from anyone if you want to stay sane. Whatever you do, do not console, sympathize or show compassion. BIG MISTAKE! (and keep your monies hidden).

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh, one more comment. This one had a child I was unaware of and openly admitted he begged his “mommy” to force the women into having an abortion. He stated his “mommy” said “you will have to learn to keep it in your pants and now pay for this child thorough child support. You will learn to appreciate your offspring as you grow up”. Poor gal, poor child. Obviously I knew nothing about him or I would have RAN sooner. Hint, ask a lot of questions, if resistance, get out fast! I feel NO SYMPATHY for these people unless they seek help.

  • Wendy says:

    I would like to share this write-up but I don’t see a “Share” option anywhere on the page. Help, please.

  • MyViews says:

    I think I have Peter Pan syndrome, but probably not for any of the reasons I’ve seen so far. In my case, I think it has to do with feeling like I missed out on a lot of things during my college years (studied more, attended 3 or 4 parties total, no girlfriend). Now that I graduated and have a job, I suddenly feel the urge to catch up on all that I missed. I check out nightclubs and chat up the college girls (it’s a college town). I’m currently dating an 18-year old and I’m 24. Anyone else think this is a symptom of PPS?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the PPS you are describing is a mild form of the PPS that Michael Jackson had. He missed out on his ENTIRE childhood, and forever after tried to reclaim it. I don’t think he would have denied this at all, seeing as he named his estate “neverland.” In my opinion the first step as with many problems is identifying and admitting the issue. Only then can you begin to stop the tendencies that encompass PPS.

    • Atreestump says:

      I would say: Yes in my opinion, any refusal to mature should be classified as Peter Pan Syndrome…

      I’m 25 and I’m convinced I have Peter Pan Syndrome. I had a very sheltered childhood; my parents wouldn’t let me out of the house unless I was going to school, or church or if I was going to a friend from church’s house. Even those visits were few and far between, and never for more than a few hours. Anything I did that didn’t involve me doing something for “The Lord” was considered Satanic and either they’d (literally) burn it, or make me do it.

      I joined the Army when I was 20, saw way more shit than I care to mention. Now that I’m out, I feel that doing all the things I wasn’t able to do as a kid makes me feel like I’m not missing out, and helps distract me from the PTSD nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think you have pps. It is most likely only a mild form of regression. Military children tend to do this as well because they tend to have to grow up quicker due to an ever changing environment. So when they hit their early to late twenties they tend to regress some and spend time doing childish things that did not do when they were young. If this sort of behavior last after say 35 then that’s when I would start to worry. And not to sound sexist but men tend to age slower emotionally then females. So while you are twenty four and she is eighteen emotionally it could be that you are closer to the same age emotionally then your physical ages. If say you were twenty four and she was fifteen or sixteen then you would have more cause to worry.

  • Anonymous says:

    What’s the opposite of pps?

  • Darryl says:

    I have PPS and am 55 yes old and live a very happy life, i keep to my self and have freinds that know i have PPS, my sexuall orentation is Gay but this dose not have a bearing on my PPS/ lifestyle .!! !im cool with how i am .

  • Annonymous says:

    I’m afraid I am also a victim to the PPS. I’m a 28-year-old woman, single, still living with her parents, have two part-time jobs (one in fast food of all places) despite of my college degree. My bedroom is decked out with stuffed animals everywhere and a hugeass doll collection above my bed. My room is always a mess, I hate doing chores at home (keyword: at home; work is another story), and when my parents need me while I’m in the middle of an online conversation or writing one of my books, I either lash out or make my annoyance known to them. My interests include going to anime/manga/gaming conventions, cosplay (and spending a lot of money buying costumes, XD), and playing video games from my childhood, Pokémon in particular. I despise children; I find them to be a nuisance more than anything, and I find myself wanting to slap the crap out them half of the time for their crying, whining, and whatnot. I also find them as a responsibility I have no desire on taking; I’d rather pawn them off to my parents so I can have some constant me time or to a friend who wants kids. As for relationships, I long to find a Peter Pan with the same interests and outlook on life with me. Thought I found him, though we never really became an item, but he ended up becoming a “Wendell Darling” instead and left our private Neverland for good. Call me a selfish b**** who needs a swift kick in the butt, but I’m proud to be Petra Pan. Grow up? Now why would I want to do that?

    • Anonymous says:

      my boyfriend has pps. i don’t know if he knows he has it. he doesn’t talk to anyone about anything personal, not even me. i want to be with a man, not an immature 40 year old. i want to leave him but i also would like to find him another girlfriend, if possible. (he doesn’t know this. i don’t know how he’d react to me finding him someone else). he works but he wants NO responsibility whatsoever. he says he hates kids, but he seems to be good with them. to the 28 year old woman who wrote the above statement, he loves video and internet games. if you have some type of plan for a future (he doesn’t) please get a hold of me. i feel like im leaving a helpless child behind so before i leave i want to try to leave him in hands where he might be taken care of and hopefully mature. i know this is not a dating site, but he desperately needs help. i care too much about him to not at least try to help him be able to survive on his own.

  • ray says:

    I am 66 and have PPS. I don’t feel any different than when I was 18. I hang out with 20 somethings and am gay. Im into bodybuilding a s speak slang as 20 somethings . Use word “dude” extensively. Have 4 college degrees and still see myself as a student. MANY people say ive been sheltered. I do look young for my age. Still have that promiscuous sexual mentality that college students have and brag about sex conquests. Talk about straight sex since im im bi. Prefer sex partners 18-27. Took pps test and I scored age 22.

  • Peter Narc says:

    I am a self-aware narcissist with acute, chronic Peter Pan syndrome. I’ve been aware of that for decades. I’m okay with it. Know thyself. I can’t change substantially, I can only try to manage the excess.

    So here’s what I have to add here, for what it’s worth. I’ve studied a vast amount of material on this and it is very rare to find someone suggesting that the syndrome can be cause by over-PERMISSIVE or simply ABSENTEE parents. My parents were not overprotective. During my childhood, we moved to a new state roughly every year. Every summer and holiday we flew to somewhere like Miami (read “Never Never Land”) to play on the beach and with the neighbors — we kids often spent the entire summer there. I was a smart and good looking kid and easily made friends everywhere I went. Almost every holiday we flew or drove somewhere. Disney Land. Grandma’s. Other relative’s homes where we kids were encouraged to just go to our thing but leave the adults alone (and so they left us alone.) I lived in 9 states by the age of 14, and attended 13 different schools in 10 different cities. To me, each time was an adventure. I couldn’t wait for the next move. Geography was my favorite subject, hands down. When we were “home”, I did what I wanted most of the time. I never had to worry about anything — it was all provided. Even education — I learned to read and do basic math in pre-school and the “head start” kept me ahead of the pack thru at least the seventh grade (I dropped to a C student in high school, and no one noticed.)

    My point is that my own PPS stems from HABIT. I did whatever I wanted, everywhere I went people/neighbor kids/girls/airline stewardesses/teachers/relatives/etc welcomed me as the new kid on the block and seemed to relish my “fun” spirit, tales of adventure and travel, and so forth, until they got tired of it. I was exhausting. Fortunately for them, we then moved again.

    So it’s not just overprotective parents. My parents were anything but overprotective. They didn’t ENCOURAGE reckless and careless behavior, they just didn’t much notice it, because they were self-absorbed or just not around. That went to a whole new level once my parents separated when I was 10 — then I had an apartment to myself (Dad was never there), a motorcycle and thousands of square miles to explore, a nice allowance (Dad gave me plenty of cash to buy my own groceries, school books, clothes, etc which I spent as I wanted), friends, girlfriends (from my age to about ten years older, the girls/women were plentiful, thanks in part to Dad and also to living in an apartment complex full of dirty old college girls.)

    I’m over 50. I’m still traveling, finding new adventures, meeting new people all the time, doing new things. Old habits die hard. I know myself. I’m okay with it.

    I can’t say that I’m completely happy. The lack of deep, lasting relationships is the main reason. I “substitute” one night stands and short term affairs for that, but it’s getting harder all the time. Especially since we Peter Pans like new younger women all the time. This is the my dilemma because I love the ladies and can’t/won’t commit.

    Unhealthy? No meaning? No purpose? Okay, maybe so. But I’m over 50 and in great health in every regard. People guess my age at late 30s. I ran a marathon last month. My BP is 110/70. I haven’t been to a doctor or dentist in the 21st century. I sleep like a baby, even if I sleep in a storage unit or at a hostel or on some stranger’s couch — all of which I do often because I don’t have or want a “real home” or a even a car. Today’s Tom Sawyer.

    It works for me. I’ve tried to not be myself and be a “responsible adult”. It was miserable and it just won’t work for me.

    No one is completely happy. In fact, happiness is not the normal human condition. Just the opposite. So many people today, especially in the West. think it’s common and normal, or supposed to be (supposed by whom? Themselves.)

    You make your own happiness. First, you must know thyself. If you’re a narcissistic PPS at age 50, the only way you’re going to have some happiness is to stop listening to the same voices of society you’ve been trying to drown out your whole life and make your own happiness doing whatever that means FOR YOU.

    We’re creatures of habit. Sure, stay at war with your bad habits. But being PPS is not a “bad habit.” It’s simply a habit. It may have some cons but it has it’s pros. Like most any “lifestyle.” It may be “bad” for society as a whole AS SOCIETY EXISTS TODAY.

    WE DID NOT EVOLVE IN THIS SOCIETY. LOOK AT A FILM OF HOW APES LIVE IN THE JUNGLE. EVEN THE ADULTS SPEND MOST OF THEIR TIME RELAXING, ENTERTAINING THEMSELVES, ALMOST DEVOID OF ANYTHING WE WOULD CALL “RESPONSIBILITY.” They don’t even have to get dressed.

    We do. And a billion other things and details and responsibilities.

    “Society” tends to compel conformity (and the mental health profession and associated literature is nothing if not a regulator of societal norms). Wittingly or not, “they” work to compel us toward unnatural, almost jackbooted behavior that is contrary to our nature.

    MODERN SOCIETY can’t work without a lot of responsible adults. And only “responsible adults” will be RESPONSIBLE when they allegedly responsible adults destroy it, as they inevitably will (probably when they let that first self-aware supercomputer cut loose — it will have no survival instinct with regard to itself, much less the humans which, to it, move at a speed far slower than a snail — by the time we can walk across a room, it’s evolved another trillion years in its time. What forces and such does it figure out by then?)

    So “society” is “right” and the PPS’s of the world are “wrong” or need to change? Right…

    People will keep sucking up, working themselves to death doing unnatural work (assembly lines! yikes), bowing down, doing the bidding of others, letting others fill their heads full of insane bullshit (like the myth of the magic zombie and other religions), tell them what to do, what to think, how to be, etc etc.

    Right up until they destroy not only our humanity, our naturalness, and our planet.

    The “good” cogs have habits too.

    Clearly the standard of what is “good” or “bad” behavior is, “Does it further the goals of modern society and its keepers, or no?”

    By that standard, I’ll have to side with all the other life on Earth that would love to see humans vanish before they compel other members of their own kind to believe in and embrace one more idea or project that will destroy their own kind.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are completely dismissing the damage that these folks do to those around them. It is not you against society norms, how narcissistic is only seeing that? It is narcissists causing needles pain and suffering to loved ones. The Narcissist, PPS folks being hugely narcissistic, goes through life completely unaware of the damage (s)he inflicts on others and does do damage. I don’t buy your argument. You have/had a family, my narcissist Dad has burned through most of his, and the damage he causes to those around him continues unabated, because he doesn’t think living the way he does causes problems! Wow, if only society would just loosen up a little, eh? There is a reason that most therapists would call narcissists untreatable – they really don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.

  • Guest says:

    I think i also have pps (assuming any kind of refusal to grow up is considered pps) but still very minor. If i just strengthen my will a little i’ll probably get through pps. I’m 21 female that goes to business college

    I believe the main reasons are:
    -i was being (and still, but less than before) spoiled by my mother as i’m the youngest daughter. <<– the main reason
    -i'm pretty lazy and kind of scared of the future, not to mention my sister and mom are active women, so the hurdle to 'meet their standard' is kinda…not low

    And yeah, what's the opposite of pps?

  • Dusty says:

    I think I have pps. I still live with my mother at 23 and I am not motivated to move out and grow up. I am into dragons, unicorns, I love my little pony. After reading this article I have come to see that I have all of the signs and symptoms listed above. I tried to go to my oldest sister because I thought she might understand but I keep getting told i’m making pps up and that i’m just being childish and I need to grow up. and I tell them, that’s the problem. I can not grow up.

  • Rynn says:

    i am finding by reading this that i have some or most of the symptoms of PPS. i am 30 and still live at home. i have a “part-time” job…which isn’t really part-time. i pay for my own cell phone, car insurance, and health insurance, i also buy most of my own groceries when i go out shopping.

    i have a habit of buying video games, movies, and books…actions figures i a have grown out of, i don’t buy stuffed animals, however i do sleep with a stuffed penguin…lol. my parents don’t and have never been overbearing or overprotected. i think i have lived a sheltered life more so than my brother who is 23 and already has two kids and is living mostly on his own. i also have never had a relationship. the one time i tried to have one i couldn’t commit. i would like to add that i am gay, not that it matters much, but seems to be common.

    don’t get me wrong i like having the life i do, i am just realizing that i am lonely and want to be free. explore and be more independent , but don’t really know how to. with being 30, i feel i am now too old or older than i should to want that much freedom. i will say i want to be a writer, i work now as a night stocker making more than any job pays around my area, i have even tried to start writing, but it is hard to get the time to do that and working and everything else. either way i am sorry for pouring my hear out and boring everyone with this. i just figured i would add a reply to other fellow like minded people and maybe people that might be able to help.


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