Have you ever felt that you’d never take any responsibility for things you’ve done? Perhaps you simply want to be a kid forever and don’t want to take things seriously? You can tell that you have Peter Pan syndrome by those thoughts in your mind.
What is Peter Pan Syndrome?
You may be aware of ‘Peter Pan’ as the fictional character created by James Matthew Barrie in the early 1900s. In the novel, Peter Pan is developed as the character who is carefree, childlike, and irresponsible for things he did. With that well-known personality, scientists named the syndrome to those acts similar to Peter Pan.
The syndrome is characterized by the absence of mature behaviors, such as taking things seriously and acting responsibly. This refers to people who grow up physically, but do not develop their mental awareness. So far, scientists have not determined what causes this syndrome. (The Good Men Project, 2021)
The Cause of People Suffering Peter Pan?
- Being too spoiled by parents: The way parents always become overprotective, indulge their children too much, and think of ways for their children to avoid failures and obstacles. These actions invisibly create a mindset for children that they are not responsible for their things because they will always have their parents by their side. Gradually grow up and mature physically, but without life skills which is a major lack to deal with the adult world.
- An abusive childhood: I would describe this characteristic as “a child without a childhood”. This describes children who spent their childhood without being playful, having fun physically and mentally. Instead, they have work and make money (you can think of child actors/actresses, singers, models, etc. who are still in a child shape), and it depends on the productivity they are on the screen. The more they appear on the screen, the more they work and have less time for school, playtime, family time, and so on. When they’ve grown up, they may look for things and wishes they haven’t done in their young time. A great example is from the all-time music icon Michael Jackson, he once named his estate the Neverland Ranch, you may find the link between the character Peter Pan.
- Lack of economic support: I agree this is one of the factors that lead to people sometimes wanting to act childlike. Basically, for those who have some wishes and goals to achieve their hobbies and interests that are considered as things only children usually do. However, at first their economic ability does not let them do and daily businesses like bills, groceries, insurances, etc. keep their feet from those things. (Kirby, 2020)
Symptoms of Peter Pan Syndrome
- Lack of career interest: People who suffer from Peter Pan feel that there are only a few jobs that are interesting to them and most jobs aren’t. Most of them would feel unmotivated and don’t pay the seriousness to put their effort into the job. And it concludes that they will be fired and find it difficult to find another job based on their past performance.
- Cannot handle situations: As I mentioned above, Peter Pan people behave childish and lack dealing with their problems. When problems come, they would face stress and difficulty to go through those. Furthermore, they may throw an adult tantrum, and scream. That’s exactly how a young child expresses his/her feelings without acknowledgement.
- Unsure with commitment: Especially in relationships, Peter Pan people can find trouble in committing with his/her loved ones that they would be together forever. These kinds of people enjoy short-term relationships and don’t want to be stuck in one relationship for long. (Kirby, 2020)
How To Help Them Overcome?
- Introduce them to mature concepts: Making examples of self-development, listening to others’ feelings which motivates them to do something in return.
- Removes distraction from their life: Peter Pan people are sensitive with distraction and makes them feel impatient to deal with things. It’s best to remove it, let them stay calm and head to the problems.
- Seek therapy: A therapy session would be useful for Peter Pan people to talk and express their daily struggles relevant to their syndrome. Therapists’ expertise and perspectives would be a treatment to help them overcome over time. Take a leap.
Peter Pan syndrome is not a mental illness and not recognized as a mental disorder according to WHO. For people who have someone experiencing behaviours exactly like Peter Pan, it is always a good way to sit and share things with them, let them share their struggles, the more you listen and comprehend, the more they would develop and be able to get rid of that syndrome, who knows.