Peter Pan syndrome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Peter Pan syndrome is a term used to describe an inability to grow up or engage in behaviour usually associated with adulthood. In the modern era, the Peter pan syndrome is mostly used with regards to adulting (reaching milestones associated with adults) or lack thereof.


The term comes from the fictional children's character Peter Pan, a character created in the 1910s whose has as one of his main characteristics the inability to grow up as senescence or symptoms resembling aspects of ageing do not occur with him.[1] As a paraphilia, the tendency to regard oneself as a tween or juvenile by someone in their twenties, a tricenarian or older is referred to as juvenilism. Similarly, the paraphilia or tendency to regard oneself as a teenager or adolescent whilst being in one's twenties a tricenarian or older is referred to as adolescentilism.[2] Transageism is a concept modelled on transgenderism wherein an adult views themselves as being a child, although the psychological identity or dysphoria of being an age that differs widely from one's actual age not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a specific mental disorder.[3] However the transeageist concept has garnered a great deal of controversy.[4]

The concept gained popularity through Dr. Dan Kiley (psychoanalyst) in his book “The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up” first published in 1983. His book became an international best seller and led to a wave of copycat pop-psychology books. Dr. Kiley got the idea for "The Peter Pan Syndrome" after noticing that, like the famous character in the J. M. Barrie play, many of the troubled teen-age boys he treated had problems growing up and accepting adult responsibilities. After he began work on the book, it dawned on him that the teen-age boys who refused to accept responsibility grew up to become men who refused to accept responsibility. His book contains exhaustive research on the syndrome but the syndrome is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a specific mental disorder.[5]


"Adulting" is a colloquialism referring to reaching milestones commonly associated with adults, or reaching the ability of self-sufficiency associated with being an adult. Adulting has particularly become an issue with regard to the millennial generation and generation Z. Several analysts have associated incompetence within these age groups with regards to life skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, various types of insurance and time management.[6]

Popular culture[edit]

An example of the Peter Pan syndrome is used in Aldous Huxley's 1962 novel Island, in which one of the characters talks about male "dangerous delinquents" and "power-loving troublemakers" who are "Peter Pans." These types of males were "boys who can't read, won't learn, don't get on with anyone, and finally turn to the more violent forms of delinquency." He uses Adolf Hitler as an archetype of this phenomenon:[7]

A Peter Pan if ever there was one. Hopeless at school. Incapable either of competing or co- operating. Envying all the normally successful boys—and, because he envied, hating them and, to make himself feel better, despising them as inferior beings. Then came the time for puberty. But Adolf was sexually backward. Other boys made advances to girls, and the girls responded. Adolf was too shy, too uncertain of his manhood. And all the time incapable of steady work, at home only in the compensatory Other World of his fancy. There, at the very least, he was Michelangelo. Here, unfortunately, he couldn't draw. His only gifts were hatred, low cunning, a set of indefatigable vocal cords and a talent for nonstop talking at the top of his voice from the depths of his Peter-Panic paranoia. Thirty or forty million deaths and heaven knows how many billions of dollars—that was the price the world had to pay for little Adolf's retarded maturation.


A prominent example of a celebrity with Peter Pan syndrome was Michael Jackson,[8][9] who said, "I am Peter Pan in my heart."[10] Jackson named the 2,700-acre Los Olivos, California property, where he lived from 1988 to 2005, Neverland Ranch[11][12] after Neverland, the fantasy island on which Peter Pan lives. He said that it was his way of claiming a childhood he never had, having started early as a performing artist with his family.[8][9] He had built there numerous statues of children, a floral clock, a petting zoo, a movie theater, and a private amusement park containing cotton candy stands, two railroads, a Ferris wheel, carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, roller coaster, go-karts, bumper cars, a tipi village, and an amusement arcade.[13][14] As The New York Daily News staff writer, Carrie Milago, reported on 26 June 2009: "On Jackson's dime, thousands of schoolchildren visited over the years, from local kids to sick youngsters from far away." Visitors "often recalled it as dreamlike", she observed.[15] A preschool teacher visiting the site told USA Today in 2003, Neverland "smells like cinnamon rolls, vanilla and candy and sounds like children laughing".[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dalla, Rochelle L., et al. "“All the Men Here Have the Peter Pan Syndrome-They Don’t Want to Grow Up”: Navajo Adolescent Mothers’ Intimate Partner Relationships-A 15-Year Perspective." Violence against women 16.7 (2010): 743-763.
  2. ^ Janssen, Diederik F. "John Money's" Chronophilia": Untimely Sex between Philias and Phylisms." Sexual Offender Treatment 12.1 (2017).
  3. ^ Pilgrim, David. "The transgender controversy: a reply to Summersell." Journal of Critical Realism (2018): 1-6.
  4. ^ Pilgrim, David. "The transgender controversy: a reply to Summersell." Journal of Critical Realism (2018): 1-6.
  5. ^ Dan Kiley, The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up, Dodd, Mead
  6. ^ Chen, Victor Tan. "Adulting While Poor." Dissent 65.4 (2018): 59-65.
  7. ^ Huxley, Aldous (1962). Island (1st Perennial classics ed.). New York: Perennial. pp. 184–185. ISBN 0-06-008549-5.
  8. ^ a b Hiatt, Brian (30 July 2009). "Michael Jackson: What Went Wrong - Over the past 20 years, Michael Jackson went from being the biggest star in the world to a reclusive broken man. The inside story of his downfall". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b Corliss, Richard (26 June 2009). "Michael Jackson: The Death of Peter Pan". Time. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  10. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (6 February 2003). "TELEVISION REVIEW; A Neverland World Of Michael Jackson". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Neverland Never More", by William Etling (author of Sideways in Neverland: Life in the Santa Ynez Valley),, 2009
  12. ^ Toumi, Habib (23 January 2006). "Jackson settles down to his new life in the Persian Gulf". Gulf News. Archived from the original on 12 February 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2006.
  13. ^ Soriano, Cesar G (2003-11-24). "At Neverland, they believe". USA Today.
  14. ^ "Vegas Hosting Big Jackson Family Auction". Fox News. Associated Press. 2007-05-29.
  15. ^ a b Melago, Carrie - Daily News Staff Writer (26 June 2009). "Michael Jackson's Neverland, his own 'Oz' and place to reclaim lost childhood". Archived from the original on 2012-10-27. Retrieved 13 September 2012.