Michael Jackson suffered from Peter Pan syndrome, it’s actually an illness, it’s the inability to grow up or engage in behaviour normally associated with adulthood. The term comes from the fictional children’s character Peter Pan, who never ages, and while transageism, or adults considering themselves as juveniles or adolescents, also referred to as juvenilism or adolescentilism.
Respectively this is not recorded in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and isn’t seen by the American Psychiatric Association as a specific mental disorder. The idea is modelled on transgenderism, and this transeageist theory has accumulated a great deal of debate.
The concept earned notoriety 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 a worldwide bestseller and led to a stream of copycat pop-psychology books.
Dr Kiley got the idea for “The Peter Pan Syndrome” after noticing that, like the legendary character in the J. M. Barrie play, several of the troubled adolescent boys he treated had difficulties growing up and accepting adult responsibilities. This problem extended on into adulthood.
Another example of Peter Pan syndrome is used in the Aldous Huxley’s 1962 book “Island” in which one of the characters talks about dangerous male delinquents and power-loving hooligans who are “Peter Pans.” Their class of males boys who couldn’t read, wouldn’t learn and didn’t get on with anyone, and ultimately turned to the more extreme patterns of crime, and he used Adolf Hitler as an archetype of this phenomenon.
A notable example of a celebrity with Peter Pan syndrome was Michael Jackson, who stated, “I am Peter Pan in my heart.”
Michael Jackson called the 2,700-acre Los Olivos, California home, where he lived from 1988-2005, Neverland Ranch, after Neverland, the fantasy island on which Peter Pan lives. He stated that it was his only way of claiming the childhood he never had, having started early as a performing artist with his family.
He built various images of children, a floral clock, a petting zoo, a movie theatre, and a private amusement park containing cotton candy stands, two railroads, a Ferris wheel, carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, roller coaster, go-karts, bumper cars, a tipi village, an amusement arcade.
On Jackson’s dime, thousands of schoolchildren attended Neverland over the years, from neighbourhood children too sick kids from far away, with visitors frequently calling it dreamlike, and a preschool teacher visiting the site stated that Neverland was scented like cinnamon rolls, vanilla and candy, a bit like “Willy Wonkers Chocolate Factory.”
The ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ affects people who don’t want or feel unable to grow up, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child. They don’t know how to or don’t want to cease being kids and start being mothers or fathers.
The syndrome is not currently deemed psychopathology, given the World Health Organization has not identified it as a psychological disorder. However, an increasingly greater amount of adults are presenting emotionally juvenile behaviours in Western society.
They’re unable to grow up and take on adult duties, and even dress up and enjoy themselves as adolescents when they’re over 30 years old, and that the overprotection of parents can motivate children to develop Peter Pan Syndrome, given it normally affects dependent people who have been overprotected by their families and haven’t received the required abilities to brave life.
The Peter Pans of present society see the adult world as highly problematic and glorify adolescence, which is why they want to stay in that state of privilege. It can affect both sexes, but it appears more frequently amongst men, and some of the characteristics of the disorder is the inability of individuals taking on responsibilities, or to commit themselves or to keep promises, extreme care about what they look like and individual well-being and loss of self-confidence, but even though they don’t appear to show it, they actually come across as exactly the opposite.