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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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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23 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.

  • [...] 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 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).

    • amethyst rose says:

      you were dealing with a paedophile… send him to police before he hurt the children around . baby porn is the clue

  • 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:

    What’s the opposite of pps?

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