Peter Pan syndrome is a psychological situation in which the individual refuses to grow up and take full responsibility, assuming a typically child-like attitude. This term was coined by the American psychologist Dan Kiley, who belonged to the Jungian school. He defined these men as “men who did not want to grow up”. This condition can’t be found in the DSM-5 but is scientifically known as “Psychic neoteny”.

Peter Pan syndrome mainly involves men between the ages of 20 and 25. It is possible that those suffering from this syndrome are not fully aware of it or refuse to be identified as an “eternal child”. The eternal Peter Pan is an adult who refuses to follow rules and to move towards a mature and responsible future.


People who are affected by this syndrome are unable to express themselves effectively, hardly establish emotional relationships and try in every way to get away from any work or social commitment. All of this because the emotions have remained at an infantile stage, as well as the behaviours and tendencies of the individual.

Peter Pan syndrome is characterized by five main traits:

  1. Rejection of rules, responsibilities, and decisions 🡪 the man dismisses everything that can limit his own freedom.
  2. Egoism 🡪 the man is focused only on himself.
  3. Excessive idealism 🡪 the man idealises himself as a “perfect being”.
  4. Lack of stable relationships 🡪 the man is afraid to commit.
  5. Attachment to material goods 🡪 when he likes something he does everything he can to have it.


The main causes to be attributed to this syndrome can be traced back to the childhood period in which the individual was satisfied and excessively supported. The idea that everything is due to him is a consequence of a failure to confront his own mistakes and duties. Among other causes, there are:

  • Childhood trauma.
  • Abuse.
  • Absent parents and unlived childhood.


To get out of this condition it’s necessary to undertake a path of introspection and maturation by asking for help from a specialist. It’s essential that the individual interfaces with his own emotional sphere.


Peter Pan syndrome should not be confused with the infantile component that characterizes each person. Sometimes, anyone may feel the desire to escape from daily responsibilities and worries.

The inner child expresses himself through creativity and imagination.

Written by Alice Rita Badari
Translation by Martina Fontana


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