In a world of do-overs, making life decisions is a daunting task when there is no backspace key to undo things that did not work out the way we expected. When this happens several times, some folks get stuck……Failure to Launch.
What is it?
There is no valid clinical term of ‘failure to launch’. The term gained prominence with the 2006 movie by the same name. While the movie is a romantic comedy film, it does not mimic what people are really experiencinemotional and social intelligenceg. Clinically, it is a syndrome featuring aspects of depression and anxiety.
What do people experience?
Most individuals experience a form of ‘psychic paralysis’ that interferes with decision-making, self-esteem and socialization. They fear the future. They fear success and failure. While they often have intact and functioning decisions-making processes, making life decisions seems impossible or out of reach. They project the future and see that any hard work will rarely pay off. Often they look at their parents and friends and refuse to be like them. They fear disappointing people. They fear disappointing themselves.
Who is affected?
The syndrome is most often associated with Millennials (those born 1982-2002*) but it can affect anyone at any age. Men are more likely affected but the syndrome is seen in women, too. The family is also affected because they are likely providing emotional and financial support while the individual works out their life situation. Their support has limits so those around the individual will commonly experience their own depression and anger.
How do you deal with it?
It is a combination of counseling and homework. There are underlying issues unique to everyone. The goal of therapy is to help the individual find what is authentic to them then identify what actions need to be taken to achieve it. Then learning additional skills to deal with the twists and turns that are inevitable in life. This helps build resiliency. Family or relationship counseling can be a healing component, too.
What are the symptoms?
- Borrowing money
- Empty promises
- Unwillingness to become independent
- Refusing to get a job, go to school, move out
- Lack of initiative
- Lackluster job searching, going through the motions but not being serious
- Excessive sleeping
- Excessive focus on personal entertainment: video gaming, Twitter, Instagram, NetFlix, Facebook, etc.
- Patterns of avoidance
- People, friends, responsibility, relationships, work
- Procrastination / Idleness
- Decline in activities of daily living: personal hygiene, laundry, chores
- Not working, not looking for a job or working in low-paying service or temporary jobs.
- Quitting or leaving jobs for reasons they can justify but may not be rational to others
- A history of starting projects (or classes) and not completing them.
- Working in low-paying service or temporary jobs
- Job hopping never working long enough to establish themselves professionally
- Poor or lack of socialization skills / low social contact
- Inability to develop meaningful romantic relationships
- Substance abuse issues: alcohol and marijuana typically
- Other addictions: video gaming and internet
- Low self-esteem and/or an overly inflated sense of self-worth
* This is a generally agreed upon timeframe for defining the Gen X/Millenials but there is no official designation.