Peter Pan Society, the inner child that never grows up

Peter Pan Society, the inner child that never grows up

What is the Peter Pan syndrome?

The Peter Pan Syndrome is an inability to grow up or to engage in behaviour usually associated with adulthood. The term comes from the fictional children’s character Peter Pan, who never ages.

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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 teenage boys he treated had problems growing up and accepting adult responsibilities. This trouble continued on into adulthood.

While transageism, or adults regarding themselves as juveniles or adolescents (also referred to as “juvenilism” and “adolescentilism”, respectively) 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.

As in the transgender being a responsibility avoidant personality disorder. The real association should be about castration anxiety and defined as a personality disorder.

What is castration anxiety?

Castration anxiety is one of the central concepts of psychoanalysis. It has a very strong link to the more well-known Oedipus complex. The first person to mention this concept was the father of psychoanalysis himself, Sigmund Freud.

Of course, castration anxiety is not referred to mutilation of someone’s genitals. It’s a really intense mental experience that you would experience for the first time between the ages of 3 and 5. This unconscious experience then happens again and again at different points in your life. It mostly happens at times when you get triggered by a person or event.

“A man should not strive to eliminate his complexes but to get into accord with them: they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world. “

Sigmund Freud

However I agree with the idea of castration and the anxiety of it, but I call it EMOTIONAL CASTRATION, female and male. When parts of the identity as a female are not permitted into the child’s life, behaviour and desires. Rejected by the parents, community and society in general

Emotional age

There are many Emotional Intelligence test online, but my approach is trying to go to the core of the Emotional Immaturity. To find out the why of that lack of development in early childhood development stages and treat that from the root.

Where did we got stuck?

Why we don’t want to grow up?

In addition asking someone about their childhood and the first memory they will tell u ask them how old they were then. That’s probably the age they are stuck in. It can be because of a traumatic experience or the total opposite the lack of guidance, freedom or individuality. In severe cases both aspects are present.

Similarly I can see it in people just by talking sometimes. They manifest some very clear signs of toddlers. Lack of compassion, respect or fear represent stuckness from 2 to 4 years old.

More over some unsocial or psychopaths in their relationship development stage from 5 to 7 years old. Narcissists and egocentric personalities are stuck somewhere in their 9 to 12 years old.

So how all this is translated into our society and why do I call it The Peter Pan society? Let’s take definitions of what a juvenile behaviour would look like and make the analogy.


  • physiologically immature or undeveloped
  • of or relating to young people who have committed or are accused of committing a criminal offense.
  • reflecting psychological or intellectual immaturity


  • marked by or suggestive of immaturity and lack of poise
  • lacking complexity


  • exhibiting less than an expected degree of maturity
  • lacking complete growth, differentiation, or development
  • having the potential capacity to attain a definitive form or state: CRUDE, UNFINISHED

For instance is obvious that the word “development” has appeared in two occasions. Since the trauma or lack of guidance, freedom and individuality is the blockage in these early stages. Another word that doesn’t appear at all is “responsibility”, and that is one major trait of being juvenile, committing acts and having behaviours without assuming the consequences of those acts. It’s also mentioned the word immature, which takes us back to the development stages. I order for me to take victimisation or blame out of this discussion I will again explain that this is due to poor parenting skills, no parenting at all, influential community and society where these people have been growing up. Can be a small village in Uganda, the poor neighbourhoods of Bucharest or even a small Mediterranean town in Spain. Regardless we all have mix of poor education, or lack thereof, and environment influence.

How this society has lost its ability of being responsible of their own life?

Because many profit out of other not wanting the responsibility. Above all it helps to create a culture that sells, a Peter Pan society that instead of making the changes they want to see in the world, they manifest and protest more than taking action. They complain and judge more that taking responsibility. And I am not even talking exclusively about Millennials, we are all in this.

Les complaining, more doing. Grow up, take responsibility and change the world by yourself.

Read more about the therapy I do where I help people achieve their Emotional Maturity here or book a free interview with me here.

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