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THE FEMININE

PUER AETERNUS

I have posted a few videos on Youtube in which I discuss the Puer Aeternus (Eternal Child) archetype which Jungians have identified and how it stops young men from becoming healthy and happy adults. Also known as Peter Pan syndrome, the pattern is marked by a fixation in youthful notions of freedom and a difficulty in transitioning toward fulfilling and normative modes of work and responsibility. 

 

Many young men have reached out to me for help with this pattern in psychotherapy, and others have written online, confessing that this pattern fits them entirely. Here is one comment and my response. 

Question:


I am 26 and, strangely enough, any sort of responsibility or real work, or even the idea of traditional family life, still bores me to tears just like it did when I was 16. If work wasn't a necessity, I would gladly just read, write stories, create art and have sex. I'm aware this isn't the case, but to me it feels like the real world is TRYING to bore me. It feels hostile by default.

 

Note: I went to therapy and this didn't change.

Response

 

​From my point of view, your boredom can reflect a relatively moderate problem that you will eventually overcome, or it could reflect a much more serious problem in your character and psyche.

 

First we have to consider personality type. The fact that you have artistic and literary interests may be the reason you find the world boring. That suggests you are an intuitive who prefers to engage with abstract, creative and symbolic themes rather than with concrete practical facts and situations.

 

Intuitives and sensate types are different. Intuitives always declare ordinary life to be dull, favoring the imagination and artistic values. Sensate types are interested in working on concrete problems.  Often, intuitives have to work a bit harder to find their best role in society. 

If you are indeed an intuitive who is inclined toward the arts, reading and writing, then ask yourself what you enjoy most and how that might be translated into a career. 

I also recommend that you take the Myers-Briggs test online to confirm your type. It will tell you a lot about your dominant personality traits. 
 

Now onto the more difficult issue of character and maturity. 

The main point here is that you feel bored with "the world," work or responsibility --- and this boredom relates to your own ideas of what those things are​ and ​the boredom arises from your state of mind​, which may be immature and self-absorbed.

 

A child is entirely bored with adult things​, just as an adult is bored with childish things. Boredom with adult things means you are childish in certain respects.​ A successful adult is not someone who has resigned himself to a life of boredom. It is someone who has found meaning, connection, joy and fulfillment in life. 

 

Usually a young adult finds his way into the world of work out of the necessity of earning a living, which means it is tedious and challenging at first. 

 

But as the young adult accepts the challenge, he gradually gets excited about the possibilities of expressing his talents, supporting himself and building life.

 

A person who finds all that boring ​probably has not discovered what they enjoy doing and where their talents​ are. They therefore have no vision for how to bridge necessity and personal fulfillment. 

 

Giving up the quest, they become cynical and declare that life is empty or the world is stupid or cruel. ​That cynicism does not come from being more intelligent than the rest; it comes from being more self-absorbed and narcissistic. 

 

Boredom, resignation, cynicism and emptiness are the symptoms of narcissism. In a healthy person,there is a basic sense of duty, love, connection and interest that makes one want to take part in life and be of some service. When narcissism has taken root, these normal feelings are replaced by a sense of aloofness, being special and above others.

 

You say you like reading, writing and having sex. Writing implies an audience​; ​so who do you write for? Without a need to write for a purpose​ and an audience, this enjoyment would likely die out and also become also "boring."​ If writing has a purpose to reach out to an audience, then it could be a source of work and earning a living. If not, then you will also tire of writing. 

 

Sex is pleasurable but are you going to do that in an adult relationship or just for kicks, like a teenager? Because eventually there are emotional needs and a woman wants to build a life with someone. She too would quickly become "boring​" -- unless she is just as childish as you are, in which case you both would become bored with each other quickly. 

 

You ​say you went to therapy and it didn't change this. Wel​l, not all therapy is the same. Most therapists are offering ​superficial therapy and what you would need is to be challenged at your core.

 

Most therapists aren't up for that as they have no depth perspective but ​instead are very eager to be seen as supportive and nice. ​They want to be liked and they think that if they gently explore your feelings then something will magically change. 

With me you would find it entirely different and I​ am not sure you could stand it -- because behind your​ aloof stance of boredom ​there is a lot of fear and self-doubt. 

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