The Meaning of Arrested Development: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of arrested development? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the term arrested development, including its definition, usage, origin, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the term arrested development mean?

According to Psychology Today, Collins English Dictionary and Emotional Intelligence Training, the term arrested development refers to the stoppage of physical development, emotional development or mental development before reaching adulthood. This abnormal condition results with someone being stuck in a certain emotional or mental level of development, and can be the reason why some adults act like children emotionally or mentally. In the field of medicine, this is considered a developmental disorder that may result in a lack of intelligence or decreased mental status. This plateau of development can be the result of trauma or neglect and can be a form of mental disorder consisting of severe mental impairment, usually caused by an abnormal state in  adolescence. When people are subjected to trauma as kids or young adults, this can cause the abnormalcy and onset of arrested development in their psychological development, causing delays among peers and sometimes an infantile fixation. Symptoms may include regression, being stuck at a certain developmental stage, and more.  Ernest Hemingway famously used the term in The Sun Also Rises in the quote when Harvey tells Cohn, “You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.” The term arrested development began to be recognized by the UK’s mental health act in the year 1983, where it was described as a mental disorder that comprises severe mental impairment. There are several different non-profit organizations that may support research and help for those with arrested development. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have arrested development, it is a good idea to get in contact with a psychologist or psychiatrist so that you can work through your trauma.

According to Find Words, in ceramics, archaeology and anthropology, this refers to the technological plateau that occurs in the development of high temperature ceramics that have no glaze due to a lack of materials, or when copper smelts without the development of bronze because of a lack of tin.

According to Fandom, Arrested Development is also an American television sitcom that originally aired 53 episodes over three seasons on FOX from 2003-2006. A new fourth season and fifth season of new episodes were released on Netflix between 2018 and 2019. Arrested Development follows the fictitious Bluth family adjusting from riches to rags after the dysfunctional family business collapses when the father George Bluth is sent to prison for embezzling. The show follows a continuous format with handheld camera work and narration, and the revival was well-received by places like Entertainment Weekly. The original show is considered one of the new TV classics with its cult viewership despite low ratings at its debut, and some even consider it the funniest show of all time. Lead characters of the show include Lucille Bluth, Michale Bluth, Lindsay Bluth, G.O.B, George Michael Bluth, Maeby Funke, Buster Bluth, Tobias Funke, and George Bluth. The main cast stars Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Tony Hale, and Jeffrey Tambor. Arrested Development is filmed primarily in Culver City, Newport Beach, and Marina del Rey, California. The show was created by executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz and Ron Howard serves as the series’ uncredited narrator. Below is a list of the seventy-six episodes of Arrested Development, from Ep Guides.

 Season 1


 Top Banana

 Bringing Up Buster

 Key Decisions

 Charity Drive

 Visiting Ours

 In God We Trust

 My Mother, the Car

 Storming the Castle

 Pier Pressure

 Public Relations

 Marta Complex

 Beef Consommé

 Shock and Aww

 Staff Infection

 Altar Egos

 Justice is Blind

 Missing Kitty

 Best Man for the Gob

 Whistler’s Mother

 Not Without My Daughter

 Let ‘Em Eat Cake

 Season 2

  The One Where Michael Leaves

 The One Where They Build a House


 Good Grief!

 Sad Sack

 Afternoon Delight

 Switch Hitter

 Queen for a Day

 Burning Love

 Ready, Aim, Marry Me

 Out on a Limb

 My Hand to God

 Motherboy XXX

 The Immaculate Election

 Sword of Destiny

 Meet the Veals

 Spring Breakout

 The Righteous Brothers

 Season 3

 The Cabin Show

 For British Eyes Only

 Forget Me Now


 Mr. F

 The Ocean Walker

 Prison Break-In

 Making a Stand


 Fakin’ It

 Family Ties

 Exit Strategy

 Development Arrested

 Season 4

  Flight of the Phoenix

 Borderline Personalities

 Indian Takers

 The B. Team

 A New Start

 Double Crossers

 Colony Collapse

 Red Hairing


 Queen B.

 A New Attitude


 It Gets Better

 Off the Hook


 Season 5

 Family Leave


 Everyone Gets Atrophy

 An Old Start

 Sinking Feelings

 Emotional Baggage


 Premature Independence

 Unexpected Company

 Taste Makers

 Chain Migration

 Check Mates

 The Untethered Sole

 Saving for Arraignment Day

 Courting Disasters

 The Fallout

Overall, the phrase arrested development is a term in psychological terminology that refers to the notion of mental growth, particularly in the adult world when adults still exhibit childlike symptoms. These people may walk into boardrooms with suits and briefcases and car keys and annuities, but they are children inside. This abnormality is usually the result of trauma. Arrested Development is also the name of a television show starring Jason Bateman, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Tony Hale, and Jeffrey Tambor in original roles. The show received widespread critical acclaim.


  1. Arrested Development Wiki Arrested Development Wiki | Fandom
  2. Arrested development definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. Arrested Development | Psychology Today 
  4. What is arrested development – Definition of arrested development | Find Words 
  5. Arrested Psychological Development: You maybe younger than you look…psychologically speaking… | Emotional Intelligence Training  
  6. Arrested Development (a Titles & Air Dates Guide) | Ep Guides