On Tuesday, a 23-year-old man in Mumbai was granted bail by a special Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) court in a kidnapping and sexual assault case of a 14-year-old girl after he was found to have Peter Pan syndrome. Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recognise the psychological condition as valid, the Peter Pan syndrome is said to have been used as a reason to grant bail to the accused.
What is Peter Pan Syndrome?
As the name suggests, this psychological condition is loosely inspired by the fictitious character of Peter Pan, a boy who never grew up into an adult.
The Peter Pan syndrome, coined by psychologist Dan Riley in 1983, is defined as a mental condition under which the patient refuses to exhibit maturity and behaviour that goes appropriately with their age. It is mostly found in men rather than women.
When grown men avoid the personal and professional responsibilities of adulthood they most likely have the Peter Pan Syndrome.
Speaking to NBC, Nathan Brandon, a psychologist practicing in California, lists a few traits of men with this condition: difficulty expressing emotions, procrastination and unclear or poorly defined life goals, and “magical thinking" around mistakes or responsibilities, blaming others for their problems and trying to escape their reality to make their problems disappear.
Describing their behaviour in relationships, both platonic and romantic, Brandon said that men with Peter Pan syndrome are often in desperate search of a partner but face struggle in maintaining meaningful relationships.
Brandon further explained that, although they are great at creating an impression, men with this psychological condition lack the ability to move beyond acquaintances and connect further on a deeper level.
According to Brandon, maturity level is a crucial factor in Peter Pan Syndrome as those who do have it are typically behaving in ways that others may see as someone who is of an adolescent age.
The psychologist says that there are specific types of immature behaviors and the extent to which a person’s maturity level does not match their age in what people may expect in an adult or meeting certain developmental milestones. Brandon describes Peter Pan Syndrome as a kind of arrested development at the adolescent stage of life.
Professor of the Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the University of Granada Humbelina Robles Ortega found in her study that the biggest disadvantage of this syndrome is that the person who is diagnosed with it does not feel as though they are part of the problem. They seem unaware of their peculiar behaviour.