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Peter Pan syndrome, is exactly how it sounds. It’s a disorder that is derived from the novel Peter Pan written by J.M. Barrie that defines those who appear as an adult but their actions are quite childlike. The ‘Peter Pans’ of present society “see the adult world as very problematic and glorify adolescence, which is why they want to stay in that state of privilege”, according to Humbelina Robles Ortega, professor of the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the University of Granada and an expert in emotional disorders.
Although it can affect both men and women it is often seen in the male population. The syndrome is developed through environmental factors, and cannot be genetically inherited.
“What causes Peter Pan syndrome?”, you may ask. According to top psychologist, it is do to overprotective parents. What this is exactly is that the parent is so overprotective that it does not allow the child to have their own life experiences to grow up and learn on their own, so the “child” is in need of constant parenting.
Dan Kiley, who defined Peter Pan syndrome in 1983, also suggests behind every “Peter” there is a “Wendy”. Thus creating the term “Wendy syndrome”, which is used for women who shadows their companions as a motherly figure. Women with “Wendy syndrome” The consistent parenting figure in the person’s life with PPS, Peter Pan syndrome, never gives them a chance to grow up. The typical PPS victim experienced a great deal of permissiveness in his upbringing.
This led to a lack of self-discipline, demonstrated by laziness and irresponsibility, along with the inability to learn how to control their emotions.
PPS may be diagnosed once the person begins to show symptoms and signs. Certain symptoms are outbursts of emotion, expressing anger to the point of wrath, happiness that turns into extreme panic, frustration that leads to self-pity and/or depression, and they always feel guilty. The use of anger is used to push the person away that is trying to push reality upon them. People diagnosed with this also show difficulty relaxing and can be really undependable considering their childlike characteristics. They are also narcissistic with dependency and manipulation tendencies. Basically, this syndrome characterizes the personality of an immature person and also includes narcissistic behavior.
Another serious problem people with Peter Pan syndrome have is developing relationships. Referring back to the person’s relationship with their parents, men often find themselves fixated on their mother. Usually because of their fixation with their mother, this is when they develop feelings of anger and guilt due to their conflicting feelings for their mother. The relationship with the father is at odds since the person diagnosed believe his love and approval is off limits. The hang up on their mother is what will cause difficulty in future relationships.
Individuals with this syndrome have a hard time building relationships with peers. As a result they become depressed and feel desperately alone in their attempt to belong. They often don’t fix the problem though because their solution to any problem is to ignore the issue and until it disappears. Most people, especially men, with this diagnosis cannot have a real connection with friends because they believe they can only be bought. When they do get friends, they often ‘drag their feet’ and cause a delay when hanging out because they share characteristics of the condition called narcissistic personality disorder.
Males with PPS have trouble keeping a love life as well. They tend to become easily extremely jealous and exhibit violent outbursts. If the woman tries to assert her independence, the male becomes easily provoked to fits of anger. They fear if the woman asserts their independence, then they’ll appear weak and not like a man in front of friends. This often causes the male to refuse to share feelings. This may result to having difficulty expressing love, especially when it comes to being sensitive. Men often pick younger women to have relationships with because that way they don’t have to worry about responsibility such as settling down and having a family.
People with the disorder could live a normal life. There is no physical or brain function change for those with this disorder. It may take energy from their partner, but with dedication they could show them having a committed relationship can be worthwhile too. If their partner begins to suffocate them then they’ll scare them off, so it’s better to give them their own space. If it is a man, then make sure they still get their “man cave”. As long as both partners are understanding of the person’s needs with PPS then it’ll work out.
The only thing that could stop them from having a bad life would be the narcissistic characteristics of Peter Pan syndrome. They tend to be absorbed with imaginative comfort in their minds which attracts them to introspection. This leads them to be imprisoned by childhood fantasy, not the realities and difficulties of life that they need to overcome. In an attempt to avoid the realities of life, it could cause them to use prohibited drugs and abuse alcohol in an attempt to escape the obstacles of life.
The only major complication of Peter Pan Syndrome for individuals having the disorder is not being able to build strong relationships. However, 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 and are unmotivated leaving them feeling depressed. Individuals having Peter Pan Syndrome do not usually exhibit the self-confidence, motivation and determination that are keys for being successful.
Treatment for Peter Pan syndrome is uncertain. Peter Pan syndrome is still unrecognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association and WHO, which is why there is no specific treatment. There are therapies such as the wilderness therapy, which covers psychodrama, cognitive behavioral therapy, strength-based therapies, solution-focused therapy, trans-personal counseling, and family therapy. There is other treatment modalities as well, such as: The Healing Sound of Silence, Embracing The Twelve Step Philosophy, and Transforming Into An Effective Adult.
The Healing Sound of Silence helps the individual keep away from refocusing their addiction on something else such as: watching TV, computer games, drugs, etc. Instead, they put the focus on themselves and their issues in an attempt to get their life back on track. It allows them to learn the basics on how to face the real problems of life. The Twelve Step Philosophy is a camping therapy. It’s a twelve-step program that helps them recognize the importance of a support system. They learn that every individual has a role and purpose. They also learn self care. The transformation into an effective adult is when the Peter Pan-like person begins taking responsibilities. 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 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 discussions should be organized, especially for teenage parents so they are aware of techniques to teach their children about responsibilities. Also, the environmental factors still need to be considered when raising a child. The right role models should always be around as well for positive influence.
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