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Wendy and Peter Pan Syndrome: The Simp Problem?

Peter Pan is a boy who refuses to grow up. And who wouldn’t? The carefree world of adolescence, the privilege of not doing taxes, not worrying about earning money, and the only problem that bothers is looking good and getting attention from peers. Unfortunately, some people never want to leave this phase and it’s called the Peter Pan syndrome. 

Accompanying that is the Wendy syndrome and both of these syndromes co-exist and complement each other, hence creating the Wendy and Peter Pan syndrome. Wendy syndrome is about pleasing others to feel accepted and loved. It is the state of doing everything for others so that you can get a bit of attention.

It has been observed that Peter Pan syndrome is more prevalent in males and Wendy syndrome is in females. But this isn’t always the case. Wendy syndrome has been on the rise in males as well. 

This article will dive deeper into this syndrome, rummaging through the possible reason for Wendy and Peter Pan syndrome, how this symptom is associated with narcissism and laziness. We shall also explore the role of hormones and nurture and how to know if your partner has either of these syndromes. 

What is Wendy and Peter Pan syndrome

First of all, Wendy or Peter Pan syndrome is not classified as a concern of psychopathology. So you cannot put these syndromes in the same basket as the Munchausen syndrome, or depression or anxiety. This means that it isn’t considered a mental disease. 

In Peter Pan syndrome, a healthy, adult person who is way past his/her adolescence still believes to be in his/her adolescence. This isn’t just pretending, this is their inability to grow up, their inability to get into the real world. 

Wendy syndrome can be called the opposite of Peter Pan syndrome. In this case, adults act as an overcaring mother to other people, especially offsprings and partners. They are comfortable doing everything for them, all the time. Why do they do that? That will be discussed later. 

These syndromes were first termed by Dan Kiley based on the characters from the novel written by James Matthew Barrie. The character Peter Pan was a boy who refused to grow up and Wendy was the woman who supported it.

It is clear to see how each of these syndromes nurtures the other. It is the perfect fit for the square peg in the square hole. Let’s look at some symptoms. 

Symptoms of Wendy syndrome 

Since a lot of caring is involved, this syndrome mostly affects women. Women are predisposed to be more caring and loving and this increases the chance of them being this overprotecting and caring person. 

The symptoms include:

  • Being overprotective
  • Care too much
  • Enquire about everything they can 
  • Doing someone’s dishes, laundry, all the time 
  • Fostering a lazy, self-destructive behavior of someone else.
  • Being over-possessive 
  • Not caring about the self when it comes to caring about someone else
  • Unable to bear ignorance, being lonely, not loved.

I must stress that every one of us has these symptoms to a certain degree, but the presence of all these symptoms persistently can be a sign of Wendy syndrome. And if there is another person involved (male or female) with Peter Pan syndrome, then the situation could be alarming. 

Some people are overprotective and over-possessive. While one cannot say where the normal range begins and ends and where the abnormal range starts, it must not be confused with Wendy syndrome. At the same time, people can have multiple levels of Wendy syndrome. There is hardly any clear-cut distinction in biology and everything is just a continuous gradient.

Men with Wendy syndrome

Being a “Wendy” is commonly associated with women who care and protect their partners or children too much, thus making them “Peter Pan”, an increasing number of men are showing similar symptoms and it has provided some insights about the biological nature of the syndrome.

The internet lingo for these people is “simp” and this means that a person will do anything for a woman just to get the slightest attention. In any of the representations of a simp, you might see the actors exaggerating the characters. But in reality, people like them exist.

The basic idea with these “simps” is that they do things that are detrimental to their esteem. It is not that they are simple-minded and someone is taking advantage of them. It’s just that they are aware of it and yet want to do anything, sometimes forming an imaginary relationship with a stranger. 

Again, as with everything in biology, all the people exhibiting this behavior are not suffering from Wendy syndrome, but they are potentially experiencing something very similar. 

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What causes Wendy syndrome?

Since Wendy syndrome is not considered a pathological condition, understanding why such symptoms happen is quite complicated. There is a lot of assumption, connection, implications, and possibility. But not a definitive cause.

The role of nurture in this syndrome is considered to be the most influential. Children who are abused, showed a lack of love and warmth, have been given conditional love are some of the most potent factors behind the development of such symptoms. 

By conditional love, I mean love that requires some sort of exchange, even at an early age. So the child grows up thinking that to get love there must be something given. This something is equated with doing everything for the other person. 

Moreover, the fear of being left alone, not loved, abandoned if one stops doing everything is also a major factor. This is why no matter how awful the other person is, Wendy counterpart always caves in. 

How Wendy sustains Peter Pan and Peter Pan sustains Wendy

One of the most common relations where this duo is observed is mother-son. Usually, the mother does everything for the son because she cares for her too much. She is unable to believe that her son can live on his own in the world. This nature nurtures Peter Pan syndrome. 

Wendy syndrome is also prevalent in marriage. Most of the time, it is the wife that’s the overprotective, over-caring moiety and the husband is the careless Peter Pan. Here, the woman puts up with the childish behavior and inability to keep doing one thing. The dynamic between Wendy and Peter Pan can be explored further as seen in this piece of research by Carolyn Quadrio.

Do note that this Wendy syndrome also comes up when we care or love someone, but up to a certain extent. It is considered normal if there are one or two things you are willing to do for a person you love. The unhealthy increase of this feeling or behavior that persists over time makes it dangerous. For example, making a piece of art for your idol that takes two hours is fine, but if you start tattooing their name all over your body or trespass into their property just to say “hello” is creepy and dangerous, for both the parties.

These marriages also affect children. The absence of strong authority hampers their mental growth. And since the woman in the house is the “Wendy”, she is more likely to be the same over-caring personality for their children, creating more “Peter Pans”

Symptoms in Peter Pan syndrome

Peter Pan syndrome is common in men, usually above the age of thirty. But early symptoms can be seen in the teenage years. However, one should never come to the conclusion of someone having Peter Pan syndrome in their teenage. 

The symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive laziness
  • Inability to take their own responsibility 
  • Deferring all their tasks to someone else
  • Omitting the task if they have to do it themselves.
  • Getting fired from jobs
  • Not being able to take care of their family
  • Not being able to take care of themselves 
  • Refusing to move into the adult world 
  • Believing that they are still teenagers.

There must be a distinction made between being lazy and having Peter Pan syndrome. Being lazy is when you don’t want to do anything. You procrastinate, you avoid work and you take a longer time period to do something. This is called being lazy and many people are lazy (including me).

But having the Peter Pan syndrome means that one is unable to keep doing work.

It is not about starting something, it is about completing something 

So for instance, a lazy person would have difficulty in finding a job because he/she lacks the mindset or practice to wake up and work on oneself to get a job.

A person with Peter Pan syndrome will be constantly getting kicked out of jobs because they cannot handle stressful situations. Their inability to get into this hodgepodge of adult life. 

A lot of Peter Pan-ism comes from being lazy, being unmotivated, and having a Wendy in their lives. But what about the biological reason? What about the hormones and brain development? Let’s have a look. 

The biology behind Wendy and Peter Pan syndrome

Perhaps there is a biological reason for some people to be more prone to sub syndromes. We all need love and warmth, and much research has shown that love could be more important than food. 

In experiments carried by Harlow, et al, baby monkeys had the option to stay with two monkey models (simulating mother monkey). The difference was one had a warm blanket and the other had a milk bottle. It was found that baby monkeys spent more time with the blanket monkey. The warmth was more important.

What this shows is kids with rough childhood might be insecure, fearing that they would be left alone. Another condition could be reduced production of dopamine receptors or the neurotransmitter. Individuals with low dopamine tend to lack motivation. 

An impaired prefrontal cortex could also influence the development of Wendy or Peter Pan syndrome. The prefrontal cortex helps individuals override the medulla, which influences us emotionally. This means that if you have a well-developed prefrontal cortex, your brain could tell the medulla to shut up and stop doing everything for that lazy person. 

Similarly, the prefrontal cortex can allow us to see the world is a difficult place and plan what to do and keep doing in order to succeed. This includes complex time-perception (in 5-years, I want to complete these things), risk management, tackling issues, accepting that no one will work for you and you have to take care of yourself. 

A dominant medulla just responds to everything emotionally. It is like I don’t want to do that because it stresses me. 

Narcissism with Peter Pan syndrome 

A narcissistic individual could also have Peter Pan syndrome. But there is a difference between the two. A truly narcissistic individual does things that feed his/her narcissism, even if it is covered in delusions. 

In the case of someone with Peter Pan syndrome, narcissism comes when a confrontation is involved. After the confrontation and very stressful time (inside the person, since the emotional center is being bombarded), things get back to square one. 

Conclusion

There is no clear cut definition of having either Wendy syndrome or Peter Pan syndrome. But it is believed that a Wendy creates a Peter Pan and a Peter Pan sustains a Wendy.
There could be cases where people are more inclined towards behaving like Wendys or Peter Pans but there’s a caveat. A Wendy syndrome cannot be sustained if the other person does their duties properly. Similarly, a Peter Pan cannot survive if there’s no Wendy around him/her. 

So these two are mutual to each other, like the yin and yang. Separate the two and you get two normal individuals. However, it is the separation that is difficult to achieve.

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