The Peter Pan Syndrome


We all know who Peter Pan is in children’s literature. He is the little boy who never grows up, who can fly and lives on the island of Neverland, leading his band of Lost Boys. His friends are fairies, elves, and the occasional normal child. He just wants to have fun. Psychology being what it is, there is a syndrome named after Peter Pan, the Peter Pan Complex or Syndrome. Young males, up into their 20s or 30s, are sometimes diagnosed with it. Yes, you guessed it. They just want to have fun and someone along the way decided it was more complicated than that and that it was a mental illness.

Even more interesting is that there are also female Peter Pans. Yes, right again! Girls just want to have fun. They have been labeled as the female clones of the male Peter Pan’s. It is quite the stereotype to have the title of “Peter Pan” slapped on you whether you are male or female.

When male children are labeled “Peter Pan,” their parents typically try to break them from such atypical behavior. They insist that they “grow up.” Psychologists say that such children refuse to accept responsibility, to keep promises, to commit to anything, and show excessive concern about the way they look. Much of the literature says the children are the victims of overprotective parents. I say that there is much ado about nothing. Why not give these kids some breathing room? Let them grow up in their own time. What, indeed, is the definition of “growing up?” Does it mean that we can’t have fun anymore? That we, like Peter Pan, are criticized for being young at heart?

The body of literature goes ahead to say that the males who exhibit the Peter Pan syndrome look for women who mother them, take care of them. That they don’t like to work, to keep steady jobs. That they, in effect, have too much fun and not enough gainful employment.

We live in a society long since descended from the Puritans. We know that the Puritans didn’t much believe in fun for the sake of fun. Could the basis of this “syndrome” have come from jealousy that these young people could indeed have fun without feeling guilty about not working all the time? Were we put on the earth to work all the time? I guess you see I have more questions than answers.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. What about the female Peter Pans? In doing some reading for this article, I got increasingly furious. Female Peter Pans like to talk to their girlfriends, compare hair and makeup and skinny jeans and think the world revolves around them. How many of us women, no matter what age, enjoy such entertainments? Could I safely say many of us? I don’t think we all think the world revolves around us. In fact, most of us help run the world with pretty responsible careers and family obligations.

Female Peter Pans are supposedly afraid of commitment and are easily bored. Bored? Who has time to be bored? Commitment? With spouses, partners, and children. You’ve got to be kidding me. But, put this together with wanting to connect with our friends and wear nice clothes and we suddenly turn into Peter Pan;. Sheesh.

Female Peter Pans supposedly live in places like lofts, or downtown, or…..Portland. They apparently aspire to be cool. Maybe they just like to live in those places. Sounds nice to me.

Last, but certainly not least, female Peter Pans think they are immortal. Yes, I have actually read that. I don’t believe that for a minute. But perhaps they would like to live  their lives, have fun, and not spent every minute thinking about their own mortality.

To be frank, I think this is a bunch of crap. People who exhibit Peter Pan-like traits tend to be young at heart and most of them have careers and take care of themselves just fine. I’ve always been Peter Pan-ish and have had a professional career and a relationship with my extended family. I have a number of friends who also have a little Peter Pan going on. But, I don’t think we are going to run off, live in a loft in Portland, and quit our careers, not to mention decide we’re immortal.

Don’t believe everything you read! #amwriting #writing #blogging #PeterPan #FairyTales



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