Infantile personality disorder: symptoms, signs and treatment

“Live in the moment” - this principle is promoted within modern culture.
Moreover, this principle has little in common with the “here and now” rule, which is especially actively used in Gestalt therapy. The principle of “here and now” is about the ability to live in the present and enjoy it, but at the same time not forget about the experience of the past or about making plans for the future. While modern culture gives a person completely different guidelines: “live for this moment, don’t think about the future, take everything you can from life!” In some cases, such guidelines help a person become a multifaceted personality, develop in different directions and try himself in different types of activities. On the other hand, these features of modern culture can contribute to the manifestation of infantilism. Infantilism means immaturity of development, the presence of childish personality traits in a person or their manifestations in behavior. An infantile person may outwardly look like an adult, but, in essence, it is as if he remains an “adult child.” The peculiarities of modern culture especially contribute to the preservation and development of infantile personality traits: a wide choice of entertainment, the cult of “eternal youth”... All this leads to the fact that a person postpones the process of growing up “for later” and turns into a small child, enclosed in the shell of an adult. Of course, not all “childish” traits are necessarily signs of infantilism. In addition, being not overly developed, infantile traits can be within the norm, and only when strongly expressed do they become unpleasant attributes of infantilism. So, the signs of infantilism include:

Why does it occur?

Infantile personality disorder according to ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) belongs to the section “Other specific personality disorders” (F60.8). One of the most common factors in the occurrence of the disease is considered to be heredity. In addition to the presence of ancestors with mental pathologies, the reasons include alcoholic parents: in such a family sick children are most often born.

Uncontrollable anger and aggressiveness can be caused by hormonal imbalances. Often the cause of a tendency to depression is insufficient production of the hormone of happiness - endorphin.

Some symptoms in children can be explained by inappropriate developmental conditions. For example, hyperactivity is a consequence of lack of space and restricted movement. Emotionally unstable parents or other people who are constantly around the child are cause for concern. But a balanced atmosphere in the family helps reduce the severity of symptoms of disorders.

Lack of desire for independence

The next sign of an infantile personality is the lack of desire for independence, dependency. Moreover, this does not mean living entirely at the expense of another person. And the reluctance to show independence in servicing one’s own needs. Wives very often complain about this manifestation of infantilism on the part of men: the husband does not help at all around the house, does not even do the laundry or do the dishes... Most often, men explain this inability to self-care by the fact that all this is “not a man’s business”, and in general , he also “earns money.” As a result, an adult and responsible man, when he comes home, turns into an infantile boy, and his wife can only take on the responsibilities of a caring mother.

Signs of Infantile Personality Disorder

The consciousness of a patient with this mental illness is extremely immature. He does not show adaptation to stressful situations: like a child, a person diagnosed with infantile personality disorder is unable to plan, is confused and fearful.

The disease can be detected as early as adolescence. Constant changes in hormonal levels in adolescents often provoke emotional swings. Difficulties arise in identifying infantile disorder in children with certain mental disorders, which can be perceived as justification for making this diagnosis. It should be understood that it is optimal to install it when a person is already 16 years old.

With age, symptoms become more severe. The disorder manifests itself in the fact that the patient cannot control any emotions: joy, fear, anger, anxiety.

Living in an imaginary world, a person with infantile personality disorder cannot cope with harsh realities. Facing difficulties causes panic in such people. In addition, they are easily excitable, emotional, afraid of panic and avoid responsibility, they often have mood swings.

This kind of pathological manifestations is not included in the acceptable norm, so do not confuse the disorder with clearly manifested character traits (accentuation), which are on the border of the norm. The difference is that a person with accentuation does not have problems adapting.

Types of infantilism


It is also called simple. It is formed due to delayed development of the frontal lobes of the brain along with improper upbringing. A person cannot correctly assess the situation, follow the rules and norms accepted in society.

He does not understand words such as “impossible” or “must”, he only knows “I want”, “I don’t want”. He differs from other people in his excessive naivety and inability to adapt to life. He often causes pain to others, but not out of malice, but out of carelessness and misunderstanding.

Sometimes he thinks out of the ordinary, which is why he sometimes achieves success in creativity. It seems like an “eternal child” who only wants to have fun and have fun.

Such behavior threatens the emergence of other mental disorders; the need to deal with restrictions and difficulties leads to neuroses, depression, hysterics, and so on.


Immaturity manifests itself not only mentally, but also physically. That is, a person not only behaves like a small person, but is also significantly inferior to his peers in terms of physique.

Initially born small, it does not gain much weight or height throughout its life. What is the reason to call him by affectionate diminutive names, to take care of him and pamper him in every possible way, to protect him from the complexities of life. After all, how can such a miniature man cope with adult problems on his own?

Differs in emotionality and poor health. Mostly affectionate and sweet. What causes an irrepressible desire to take care of him even from strangers.

The requirements of those around him are much lower than those of his peers or even colleagues. Such care is quite pleasant, but it causes a feeling of inadequacy and some underdevelopment.

If adults raise him on an equal basis with everyone else, teaching him autonomy and so on, then he may well become a mature and conscious person. In extreme cases, he will lag behind in development, never having learned what masculinity or femininity is, remaining in the position of an unintelligent and incapable “baby” who will need a guardian for the rest of his life.


Characterized by excessive excitability, stubbornness and aggressiveness. Such a person is a liar, a braggart, he creates conflict situations, seeks to hurt the people around him and is inclined to break the law without a twinge of conscience. A disharmonious narcissist can well be called a deviant.

Against the background of the above style of behavior, psychopathy often begins to develop.


One of the signs of mental retardation, autism, schizophrenia, etc. The inferiority of the central nervous system leads to the inability to recognize people's emotions and correctly assess the situation, think critically, and show persistence and diligence. Actions usually lack consistency and independence.

They are not able to maintain discipline, follow rules and laws. They easily succumb to the influence of others, which is not always positive.

They are often annoying, whiny, anxious and slow. Having promised something, they immediately forget, instantly losing interest in the conversation.

But, despite this, they are active, wanting to earn approval and praise.

Types of infantile disorders

Depending on the symptoms and emotional state of the patient, 4 types of infantile disorders can be distinguished:

  • Borderline represents severe mood swings. The disease most often persists after puberty.
  • Antisocial disorder involves a complete reluctance to interact with society and form partnerships and friendships.
  • Narcissistic disorder is an unhealthy, uncontrollable tendency toward power and authoritarianism.
  • Theatrical disorder is expressed in envy, the desire to manipulate, and attracting attention through eccentric, overly emotional behavior.


It is possible to diagnose this disorder in high school age, and sometimes in preschool age. The examination is carried out in the form of a conversation with a specialist, that is, a psychiatrist.

He tries to find out what symptoms the patient has, how he reacts to various stimuli, whether he is able to maintain distance or violates boundaries without understanding what he is doing. Can carry on a constructive conversation. How adapted to the conditions in which he studies, works, lives, etc.

Tests, questionnaires and drawings are also used in the diagnostic process. The methods mainly used are “Non-existent animal”, “House, tree, person”, Rosenzweig test, Leonhard-Smishek character accentuation questionnaire and so on.

General patterns of treatment

Treatment for infantile personality disorder is usually difficult. The complexity of treatment can be explained by the fact that psychotherapists most often have to work with people who have an advanced stage of the disease with pronounced symptoms. The success of therapy also largely depends on high-quality diagnostics.

Most often, specialists provide treatment using psychotherapeutic methods. When symptoms of other disorders are added to infantile personality disorder, specialists treat with medication.

The desire to play as a sign of infantilism

It should immediately be noted that we are not talking about playfulness in itself, but only about the option when the search for entertainment turns into a primary task for a person, relegating other activities to the background. The worst thing for a person focused exclusively on games and entertainment is boredom.

“Games” and entertainment in this case can be different: passion for computer games, shopping, going to bars with friends, constant purchases of “technical toys”... There is nothing wrong with all these activities, but in his desire for entertainment, the infantile personality loses a sense of proportion and then the desire for eternal games becomes a sign of infantilism.

Treatment of infantile borderline disorder

Treatment for this type of abnormality often involves a flexible plan that combines different techniques. The following methods can be used:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (aimed at eradicating negative thinking patterns from the patient’s mind).
  2. Dialectical behavior therapy (develops skills to overcome unwanted reactions).
  3. Cognitive - based on awareness (prevention of relapses by addressing the patient’s consciousness and thinking).
  4. Group therapy.
  5. Searching for a point in the patient’s visual field, visual contact with which will lead to an improvement in the condition (Brainspotting).

Inability to know and evaluate oneself

And the last sign of an infantile personality is the inability to evaluate one’s behavior, one’s actions and oneself, as well as the inability to reflect and self-knowledge. In order to have the ability for adequate self-esteem and self-knowledge, a person must be able to look back and critically evaluate all the events of his past. However, this is too difficult for an infantile personality; she prefers not to look back, but to live only in the present moment...

These are the main signs of an infantile personality. In small doses, all these signs help to preserve the child inside oneself, but when overdeveloped, they turn a person into an “eternal child” in need of constant care.

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Treatment of infantile antisocial disorder

Antisocial disorder is difficult to treat. Doctors often use psychotherapy, but this method is rarely effective. He is powerless if the symptoms of the disease are severe or the patient does not want to admit that he has serious problems. Often, diagnosing a disease is possible only by clarifying the patient’s relationship with loved ones.

There are no specific medications to treat antisocial disorder. Psychotherapists prescribe medications only to relieve specific symptoms, such as aggression, anxiety, or depression.

Antisocial personality disorder in most cases brings a lot of suffering to those around them. To help cope with aggression and protect against violence and anger, there are support groups for families and friends of people with antisocial disorder. If you have a loved one with this personality disorder, it is important that you also receive psychological help.

Until now, diagnosing infantile personality disorders is extremely difficult, since it is impossible to classify all patients under one pattern of disease development. The most important thing in treatment is to find a qualified doctor who can draw up an individual treatment plan that takes into account all the features of the course of the disease.

Symptoms and signs

Symptoms of infantile disorder:

  • fear of responsibility;
  • getting stuck at the stage of childhood experiences;
  • transferring blame for your failures to other people, to external circumstances;
  • lack of desire to learn new things and develop;
  • inability to achieve what you want;
  • the attitude that everyone around should;
  • inability to calmly accept rejection;
  • inability to set goals;
  • rejection of criticism;
  • strong dependence on parents;
  • the desire to shift responsibility to someone else in the professional sphere.

An infantile person exhibits an extreme degree of egocentrism. He believes that only his desires and problems matter, and the difficulties of other people do not cause any interest.

Such people take an exclusively dependent position - receiving everything without giving anything in return.

They have no purpose in life other than the desire to provide themselves with the most comfortable existence possible.

For this reason, they often act based solely on their own desires and without thinking about the consequences.

An infantile person is not able to objectively assess his personality and realize the need to work on himself.

He does not want to solve problems , develop and adapt to the interests of others.

Characteristics of the disorder, manifestations

The patient may outwardly be no different from other people, but his behavior will reveal problems with decision-making, responsibility for his behavior, and lack of independence.

The person exhibits childish traits. At first he does not want, then cannot make independent decisions, he constantly seeks support for his decisions and opinions. He is not flexible in life: in difficult situations he acts only according to the script that is laid down in his family, familiar from childhood. Such a person also cannot change anything in the relationship in order to differ from the parental family; this will plunge him into a stressful situation for the psyche. Such people will not necessarily be completely obedient. Among infantiles there are also rebels who want to constantly refute parental rules and guidelines. But in the end, they are always repulsed by parental stereotypes, acting according to them or contrary to them.

As adults, it is difficult for infantile people to build long-term relationships. In general, women have a very difficult time with an infantile man; men have an easier time with such women. But these relationships are not long-lasting, since a partner healthy from infantilism will sooner or later want an adult relationship on equal terms, which the second partner cannot give without behavior correction. Many difficulties arise in such couples, which often both sides do not overcome: infantile people do not want to take responsibility for a difficult relationship, and the other side gets tired of bearing all the burdens of such a relationship.

Infantility has recently been characteristic of many children and adults. More and more teenagers and young people are growing up not subject to any restrictions in behavior, not understanding how to do not what they want, but what they need. They do not take responsibility for their actions; they get used to the fact that someone else is responsible and decides for them. Patients control anxiety, fear, and aggression very poorly. A diagnosis confirming this disorder can only be made after the age of 17, when puberty has passed and hormonal changes have ended.

Split personality in adolescents

In childhood and adolescence, dissociative disorder is also possible. However, there are some distinctive characteristics in behavior. Among the main manifestations the following aspects can be distinguished:

  1. Changes in intonation and behavior as a result of communicating with other people.
  2. The onset of episodic amnesia, when a teenager is unable to remember specific events in life. This often happens, as in adults, when the dominance of personalities changes
  3. The teenager lacks certain eating and taste habits. They are constantly changing
  4. A sharp change in mood and emotional background in a wide range, ranging from negativism and depression to euphoria and increased tone
  5. Senseless focusing of the gaze and manifestation of an aggressive mood
  6. The teenager does not have the ability to explain his own thoughts and actions.

If such signs are noticed in a child, it is necessary to seek advice from a psychotherapist who will carry out the necessary diagnostic measures and help clarify the diagnosis.


Psychotherapy is the main method of treating this pathology. “Therapeutic conversations” help a person realize his infantile behavior, look at his actions from the outside, work through the wrong attitudes in life, replacing them with rational beliefs. Psychotherapy is carried out using several areas of psychology. The most effective of them are cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, classical and Ericksonian hypnosis.

Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy

This type of psychological therapy combines several areas of psychology, and therefore is rightfully recognized as one of the most effective. Psychotherapists working in this direction pay attention to the patient’s perception of the doctor, the structuring of the session and changes in the cognitive and behavioral components of the personality.

An infantile personality will always shift responsibility for his condition and behavior onto the psychotherapist at the first meetings. Here, the professionalism of a specialist is required to show empathy and sympathy for the patient’s condition, but also not to take responsibility for his actions.

Psychotherapists using this approach to treat infantile disorder help a person identify automatic thoughts charged with negativity, find connections between these thoughts and the patient’s behavior, analyze these automatic thoughts with him in order to confirm or refute their authenticity. The therapist helps the patient to formulate these thoughts more realistically, which helps the patient realize the fallacy of his statements. The main goal of the psychologist should be the transformation of erroneous statements that lead to infantile disorder.

Of course, the educational situation in childhood and adolescence plays a major role in this phenomenon. It is imposed on the child that he is still small, it is too early to take responsibility for any business, since he can harm himself or objects. The caring adult does everything for him, which kills his initiative, responsibility, hard work, and courage. The situation is similar with excessive criticism. When children are trying to do something (the zone of proximal development according to Vygotsky - at certain moments the child is ready to develop psychologically and physically, learn something new and perform certain tasks), their slightest error is perceived as a grave sin. Such a child grows up with the conviction that it is impossible to undertake anything, since there will be criticism later, any initiative will necessarily be punished, and so on.

Having identified such irrational beliefs and automatic negative thoughts, the psychotherapist teaches the patient the correct actions.


Psychoanalysis helps to work through grievances against significant adults, to identify triggered psychological defenses in any undertaking or taking responsibility for the slightest task. The psychoanalyst devotes quite a lot of time to studying the psychological situation in childhood that led to deviation in behavior.

Help is also provided in accepting yourself with your internal problems. The doctor, together with the patient, determines exactly what situations make him want to return to childhood, what exactly in adult life leads to stereotypes of child behavior and memories of childhood.

Important! If this particular method is used to treat an infantile disorder, the doctor must be highly qualified, otherwise (if the experience is small or there is not much knowledge in this direction), the patient’s condition can significantly worsen. This personality disorder is closely related to the emotional sphere of a person, and classical psychoanalysis is not used in the treatment of emotional psychoses.

For treatment, psychoanalytic methods are used to illuminate the patient’s inner world and his feelings. You can actively use art therapy, a method based on psychoanalysis. Treatment lasts from 3 to 5 years.


Freudian or Ericksonian hypnosis is used for treatment. In the first case, directive methods are used, in the second, softer methods of influencing the patient’s psyche. Freudian hypnosis has recently become less popular, as the patient becomes completely dependent on the desires of the doctor and his opinion. This does not allow us to completely neutralize habitual forms of pathological behavior. Hypnosis is used in extreme situations when a person suffers from serious forms of illness.

To get rid of this pathology, maximum efforts will be required on the part of the patient and his environment. For positive dynamics, it is necessary to introduce a daily routine, sports exercises, and try to communicate more. The development of self-control will help to overcome the symptoms of the disorder by first setting minor tasks for yourself, completing them and analyzing the effort expended, time and quality of the result.

Author of the article: Lyudmila Leonidovna Redkina, psychologist


As already mentioned, the main “culprit” of organic mood disorder is a physiological factor. The most common reasons:

  1. Brain damage – tumor, traumatic brain injury affecting the frontal lobes.
  2. Diseases of the endocrine system - Itsenko-Cushing's disease, thyrotoxicosis, consequences of partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland, premenstrual and menopausal syndrome.
  3. Long-term use of hormonal drugs or their withdrawal. Those who suffer from autoimmune diseases and are forced to take glucocorticosteroids are especially at risk.
  4. Overdose of antihypertensive drugs, rarely - antibiotics, sedatives, antitumor drugs, narcotic analgesics.

The above-mentioned circumstances negatively affect the state of neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting impulses between nerve cells, and from them to the glands and muscle tissue. An imbalance of these biologically active substances disrupts this process, and the parts of the brain responsible for instinctive behavior, feelings and emotions end up working incorrectly.

Excess serotonin and norepinephrine speed up neurotransmission, making receptors more sensitive. This contributes to a manic state. A deficiency of these hormones provokes depression.

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