Although this term was introduced into the professional literature back in 1983
for men who never really grew up, but remained eternal boys, it seems that it is
even more relevant today.
As is well known, Peter Pan is a boy who never grew up. He lived in the country of
Never Never Land, where it was possible, and where he led a group of "lost boys". Because
of his characteristics, the "Peter Pan syndrome" was created, which describes men
who have never really grown up, who have remained eternal boys. Although this
syndrome was introduced into the literature in 1983, it seems that today there are
more and more men whose behavior deserves to be classified in this syndrome.
Why are more and more men unwilling to grow up? For the same reason that women do
not want to grow up, and that is because they have a negative image of adulthood.
When they enter those years in which they should both grow emotionally and, for
example, enter into serious relationships and accept responsibility for starting a
family, they retreat, withdraw, and continue to behave at a “younger” emotional
and social level.
An idea of adulthood
Children and young people get an idea of adulthood by observing parents and the
older generation. Seen through the eyes of a child, adulthood is not attractive at
all. Parents work a lot, they are constantly in obligations, duties, they have
little or no fun, especially if they give up a lot or sacrifice in order to make
their children as comfortable as possible and to make them as happy as possible.
If parents try to make the child have a happier childhood, fairytale and magic,
then the difference between childhood and adulthood is very large and frightening
for a young person. That is why she wants to prolong her "childhood" as long as
possible and to become an adult as late as possible, if possible.
When a young person does not want a parent of the same sex to be a role model, she
looks for role models elsewhere. The largest selection of new models is offered by
various media: films, television, literature. It is the media that are full of
various "new male stereotypes" that, despite their age, offer a youthful lifestyle
that abounds in entertainment, hedonism, individualism and an unconventional
lifestyle. Wealth, fame and power are offered as ideals. The role models are
usually individuals without a family and children, without people to whom they are
emotionally attached, with whom they are in a relationship of love.Even when these
role models are presented as heroes who enter risky situations to save others,
these others are often some abstract community, and by no means, for example, a
When there are more and more real people in the generation who live according to
the principle of Peter Pan, then such behavior becomes the generational norm, that
is, normal behavior "because others live that way" and "what they lack". Then, the
role models are no longer just characters from the screen, but specific people who
"revived" the life scenarios they saw in the media.
Each person carries within himself that part of the personality that we call the
"inner child", that is, the self as it was in childhood. From this inner "free
child" spring desires, play, wit, fun and creativity - in a word: life energy. We
say that a person is not old as long as he raises this child in himself. But it’s
all a matter of proportion and balance. When this child becomes the dominant part
of the personality, then it is not an adult who knows how to have fun, but a
childish, infantile "adult".It is an adult with a child mentality: irresponsible
to himself and others; in a position of dependence on a parent or “parent”;
preoccupied with fun and pleasures; egocentric and without developed empathy for
others; without work and other habits.
Although the character of Peter Pan is mostly known from Disney's cartoon, it is
only a modified version of the original character created by the Scottish writer
J. at the beginning of the 20th century. M. Bari. It is interesting that in the
first versions, Peter Pan was portrayed as a negative character, and that in the
Disney version from 1953, he was presented as a positive character. That change
probably reflected the "spirit of the times" and the new attitude towards
childhood and adulthood.
The Disney version offered a character that children could better identify with
and wish they never grew up and never left their comfortable childhood. Peter Pan
syndrome was defined in 1983 by Dan Kylie in the book of the same name, with the
subtitle: About men who never grow up. It seems that this book is more relevant
today than it was forty years ago when it was written.
Because of all the above, it is important to recognize men who have this syndrome,
and not only the obvious ones, but also the hidden infantile ones that hide behind
the mask of adulthood.