Peter Pan syndrome

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  • IPA(key): /piːtə pan ˈsɪndɹəʊm/
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Proper noun[edit]

Peter Pan syndrome

  1. (idiomatic) The supposed psychological phenomenon of immaturity among some men, who, like the fictional character, remain childish and fail to assume appropriate adult social roles and responsibilities.
    • 1989, Alice Hall Petry, "Alice Walker: The Achievement of the Short Fiction," Modern Language Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, p. 17:
      The husband himself (called "he" to emphasize his role as Typical Male) comes across as a rather dense, naughty adolescent boy. He is clearly suffering from a terminal case of the Peter Pan syndrome.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Popularized by Dr. Dan Kiley, in The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up (1983), but earlier usages, with varied senses, exist. Examples:
    • 1966, Sylvia Farnham-Diggory, "Self, Future, and Time: A Developmental Study of the Concepts of Psychotic, Brain-Damaged, and Normal Children," Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, vol. 31, no. 1, p. 56:
      PSYCHOTIC CHILDREN: In the psychotic group, there appears what might be called a "Peter Pan syndrome": mistrust of others, grasp of immediate pleasure, retreat from time, refusal to consider entry into the world of adult plans and responsibilities, refusal to "grow up," or to die—all of these would seem to define one who is, indeed, an inhabitant of a Never-Never-Land.
    • 1975, Obgu Kalu, "The Peter Pan Syndrome: Aid and Selfhood of the Church in Africa," Missionology, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 15.
    • 1977, Dolores Mitchell, "Art Patronage by the London County Council (L.C.C.) 1948-1965," Leonardo, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 209:
      That's pot-boiling: the Peter Pan syndrome.


See also[edit]