Peter Pan syndrome

22.01.2021

We live in a globalized age, focused on materialism and consumption ... and also digitized. This makes us jump from one article after another without the necessary depth, and terms are invented. You know: Peter Pan syndrome, imposter syndrome, "toxic" people ...

What is true really? Is there a Peter Pan syndrome as such? Adults who have difficulty assuming responsibilities beyond income or who want to live as eternal adolescents?

What do we understand by Peter Pan syndrome?

Let's start with the objective of this article: the big problem in our digital world is that we identify with what we read. Instead of identifying yourself, in this article we are going to try to go deeper into this problem to know what it really consists of, how it affects you in a psychological and emotional sense and, above all, how to solve it.

So is there the Peter Pan syndrome? This syndrome refers to the difficulties of certain adults in assuming responsibilities and commitments , as if they wanted to enjoy the advantages of the adult world but continue to live in a certain way as adolescents.

This syndrome as such does not exist in psychology. However, I often see people in consultation who say to me: "Rubén, I have Peter Pan syndrome, help me solve it." What really happens to these people?

For more than 10 years I have been accompanying people as a psychologist and coach in their change processes, and this phenomenon is relatively recent and is part of our current social context . We live in a materialistic and consumerist age in which we build an identity identifying ourselves with what we think we are and need. These people, in search of a personal concept of freedom and autonomy, reject certain aspects of adult life.

In principle, this is not a problem at all. The difficulty comes when over the years they experience constant existential crises or difficulties in finding a life purpose.

The problem is not living as adults (these people are adults and live according to their own values ​​and decisions) but rather rejecting certain experiences that involve bonding, dedication, care and commitment (such as a long-term project, a relationship, actions involve striving for others, or even having children).

Does this mean that these people need to live a more conventional life? Nothing is further from reality. Each person's lifestyle must follow their own values ​​and trends . The difficulty is not that, but to avoid experiences that imply that they lose some control and feelings of "freedom" (according to their own concept). This avoidance ends up being a limit and block, since it prevents them from living more fully, satisfactorily and with purpose.

Why is this happening?

There are several emotional difficulties that make it easier for some people to tend to shy away from these experiences: low tolerance for frustration, need for control, constant search for personal freedom due to fear and insecurity towards certain experiences that imply that total loss of control, etc. 

The Peter Pan syndrome, then, only refers to a current psychological problem that depends on our way of life and context : the difficulty to manage certain emotions (frustration, fear and insecurity) when living certain experiences that involve a mode of personal dissolution and that implies a genuine and necessary contact and encounter with the other and with our humanity.

This happens in a similar way in the case of couple relationships : we want to live the experience of the couple but we are afraid of the possible consequences (infidelity, lack of support, not feeling loved, etc.), which is why we avoid the experience or we even leave the relationship before encountering the first difficulties.

The relationship of this difficulty with loss of purpose is important. In our materialistic and consumerist world we tend to think that the purpose of life is something inherent to us . However, the purpose is not found or sought, but done. When a human being does not live certain experiences that imply that contact with difficulties (family, relationships, some way of giving himself to the other) he is in a certain sense disconnecting from part of his most human tendencies. This is what makes us live the existential crisis or feel that our life lacks a clear purpose.

How to solve it?

As I told you in the video, if the main origin of the problem is the way in which we understand and manage certain emotions, such as frustration, insecurity, the need for control or fear, the solution is to do that learning so that we can overcome those limits and make emotions on our side instead of against us.

If this is what you want to achieve, at empoderamientohumano.com you have the option for us to schedule a first exploratory session and take the final step towards the change you need. That is the most important decision of all.

When we reason about a problem, we tend to use a simple and useful outline most of the time. This way of thinking is what is known as linear thinking.

In couple relationships there is always a certain degree of commitment and, of course, seeking the company of the person you love. However, some people have an excessive emotional dependence on their partners .