The Real Peter Pan Complex

This photo is copyright (c) 2013 and made available under royalty free license

Society puts pressure on us all to look young and beautiful for as long as we possibly can, often leading to unreal expectations and expensive treatments. The anti-aging industry is one that rakes in billions of dollars each year, successfully making a fortune off the fear that we all have of growing old. Let’s be honest, we have all looked in the mirror at one time or another and wondered where the years have gone. We see thinning hair and lines appear where there used to be fabulous tresses and smooth skin. Aging is an eventuality that none of us can avoid, no matter how much we choose to throw at the problem. We all grow old and we all die: it really is quite as simple as that.


This photo is copyright (c) 2013 and made available under royalty free license There are people that choose to shun that notion, though, believing that they can stay young forever, just like Peter Pan. While some may look at the Peter Pan complex as simply a desire to remain youthful, it is actually steeped in narcissism, with that person looking to retain the look of someone who is young, as opposed to the way in which they behave. I think that retaining a little bit of youthful immaturity is a good thing, as long as you use it in the proper time and place. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to behave like a big kid when playing with your children, but it’s not the sort of behavior that you would want to take to the office with you.


It has often been said that thinking and acting like you are younger helps you stave off the signs of aging. There is some truth to that, since many seniors who remain active and young at heart actually end up looking a lot younger than the number on their birth certificate. The difference with these folks is that they are also grounded in reality and are totally aware of their mortality. Believing that you are going to be eternally young can lead to other major issues, most notably of which may be resorting to childlike behavior that has you shunning adult responsibilities.


There is a case of a man living in the United States who is so entrenched in his Peter Pan complex that he actually dresses like the fictional character. Randy Constan has spent a large chunk of his life dressing as Peter Pan and generally believing that he is eternally young. You read his web page and you see signs that he is still somewhat in touch with reality, but there are also numerous clues to the issues associated with this particular complex. It has even carried over to his love life, with the real peter Pan marrying a woman who thinks of herself as Tinkerbell. It may have been a fairy tale romance, but you have to wonder how in touch with reality both of these people truly are.

This photo is copyright (c) 2013 and made available under wikimedia commons license

I am all for people living their life the way they want to be, as long as nobody else gets hurt in the process. If Peter and Tinkerbell are truly happy, then they have achieved something that most of us can only dream about. What I wonder about is the personal cost that these people are paying to have that happiness. I wonder if they look in the mirror every day and are somehow able to gloss over the visible signs of aging that we all experience. I also know that people can be cruel, and it must be a lot harder to shake off the taunts and jabs they must surely have to endure than it is to shrug off the fact that they are obviously aging. Perhaps if their vanity is so powerful that they can believe in eternal youthfulness, then maybe it is powerful enough to ignore those taunts. If that is the case, then maybe it’s time to strap on some tights and head off to Neverland.



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Morgan is the founder and editor of REALITYPLEX. After suffering from a life-threatening accident, he realized that the way we perceive things around us is based on our beliefs, emotions and experiences. In an effort to draw the line between perception and reality, he launched REALITYPLEX in 2011. Get to know him better and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and G+