Got stuck in the childhood

The eternal child- a comfortable psychological mask or an incurable diagnosis?

When you are about 10 years old, your acts can be justified by the fact that you are still a child and you can behave like a natural child: a little clumsily, a little fondly and always very irresponsibly. But what if you are already about forty years old, and you’re still acting like a child?

L., one friend of mine, is 42 years old, he's from Riga. He abandoned his third wife during her eighth month of pregnancy recently. As he explained, she bothered him with "the constant nervous hysterics and a lack of house work". He left his previous two ex-wives for approximately the same reasons too: either they bothered him, or they rarely met his desires. Whether he satisfied their requests or desires — he didn't mention it, but I can already guess…

My other friend A. from St. Petersburg, she's 25 years old, but looks like a 16 years-old girl. She came to St. Petersburg from a small provincial town — as she said, to become more of an adult at last — but it wasn’t her decision though but her parents’ who had become a bit tired of a grown-up adult child. She has lived in St. Petersburg for several years, married and has had a child. But even all that, according to her, actually didn't cure her infantilism. She does not spend much time with her two-year-old son, and prefers to go out and drink a lot. Therefore her son is brought up by the invited nanny and with the help of her husband who is 20 years older than A.

Another one person D., who I know, is living in Germany, he is almost 35 years old. D.lives with his mother who financially supports him completely, because he doesn't work, and has only studied 2 years in a technical university before, but then, as he said, simply getting tired of it and stopping education. And he doesn't want anything to change, because this situation is very convenient and comfortable for him. Sometimes he meets with girls from Internet, but his mother always come with him to even the first date — "for support", or let us be honest, for controlling. Of course, meeting with the parents of a person who is not even your fiancé, furthermore, on the first date, can frighten every normal sort of girl and make them quickly disappear after the date. Well, D. doesn’t get so upset about it and continues to live his pretty infantile life.

All the situations above are very similar cases, and I am sure, you will find such people in every city and in every country all over the world. These adults grew up — according to their passports at least, but they got stuck in childhood — in fact, and they expect to not have any responsibility for their own lives.

When thinking about infantility, it appears to be a scourge of our time, and you can find plenty of children among the women as among the men. Psychotherapists quite often consider infantilism to be not a disease, but a defect of education. Long-awaited children are most often subject to it and also those who were often ill in their childhoods.

But how should one live with a chronically developed feeling of helplessness? Is it possible to recover from it, or does this kind of ‘bad brand’ affect all adult life?

It's totally understandable, that every human has something remaining of the naive and cheerful child we were in the childhood. Of course, those circumstances can strongly disturb an adult person, if they form most part of a world view of an adult life where it's normally necessary to make decisions and to take responsibility. How can we get rid completely of infantilism? Well, it seems to me, if not by taking radical apocalyptic methods, then maybe instead by a certain sort of serious vital crisis that can instantly force infant person to be more mature.

But there is also another side of the coin: who will give then guarantees, that you who were an infantile personality earlier, will still be able to enjoy and be surprised by small things, to derive pleasure from watching animated films and reading children’s books etc ? So, on the one hand, it is possible to become, because of different circumstances, a more responsible and serious person, and at the same time to also become boring — as for people around you, and to yourself.

One way or another, the disposal of infantile outlooks or behaviors is not a guarantee of a subsequently happy life at all. If the person feels good in his or her own childishness, maybe, it's not even necessary to get rid of it? Maybe having harmony and comfort inside you is much more important, than knowing that you behave as well as other serious and adult people?

Anyway, time will prove everything, and life will introduce its own amendments that dissolve infantility easy as salt dissolves in a glass of water. One fine (or not so fine) day you will unexpectedly find out for yourself that you lose your infantilism after some certain life circumstances. But in this case it will already be just a natural process, which is much better than a fight with yourself or a desperate and meaningless attempt to escape from your nature.

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russian journalist in the past, beginner psychologist and sex therapist, living in the UK.

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Lilia Skopintceva

Lilia Skopintceva

russian journalist in the past, beginner psychologist and sex therapist, living in the UK.

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