Is pee shyness a thing

Social phobia: When the pee break becomes torture


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Men have it easy peeing. If you have to, you can go anywhere. Whether at concerts or in overcrowded bars. While it takes longer in the women's toilet, men relieve themselves quickly and in rows. But a widespread phobia called paruresis (Greek: par = disturbed, uresis = urinate) makes the situation in front of the urinal uncomfortable or even impossible for around a million German men. Psychologists and medical professionals also speak of "shy bladder syndrome". Affected men cannot pee in company; many are plagued by the phobia for years.

Thilo L. * from Cologne can understand when people smile at his phobia when they hear about it for the first time. For him, however, it is often unbearable: "I remember a wagon ride with colleagues. A keg of K├Âlsch was emptied. At a convenient point, all the men jumped from the car and freed themselves from the great pressure at the roadside. Only I couldn't and it lasted hours until we were there. "

It is not uncommon for men to leave a public toilet without having achieved anything. "For at least 30 percent of men in Germany, nothing happens every now and then when they are standing in front of the urinal," says Cologne psychotherapist Philipp Hammelstein. In a representative study, Hammelstein found that 2.8 percent of the stronger sex clearly suffer from their shy bladder. Paruresis patients who are treated psychotherapeutically have symptoms that are so pronounced that they have a so-called "disease value". Some men then tend to take avoidance actions by "no longer going to pubs, restaurants or cinemas, or by choosing their place of work according to the distance from their own home". When it comes to paruresis, Hammelstein has become a research pioneer. During his work in the Heidelberg psychiatry, he treated an affected patient with depression: "With him, the phobia turned out to be partly responsible for his illness."


Paruresis self-help

On the Website Affected people exchange ideas and arrange pee buddy meetings. A German-speaking one Book on paruresis wrote Philipp Hammelstein. Behind the title Let it go (Dustri-Verlag) also hides a Self-help program with exercises to overcome the phobia.

Social phobia

In psychology it is psychologically conditioned Voiding disorder a subform of social phobia. The name Paruresis was given by the two American researchers G.W. Williams and E.T. Degenhardt first introduced in 1954.

Sigmund Freud

The psychotherapist Philipp Hammelstein reports that the thoughts of affected men often also concern you Lack of masculinity circle. It is assumed that only someone who can pee while standing is a "real man".

Sigmund Freud took the view as early as 1932 that the habit of men to outdo each other when urinating went back to the earliest times Form of male rivalries is.

Patrick E. * from Bochum also has paruresis. The 25-year-old student is the captain of a sports club and likes to travel. He did an exchange to Spain through the university. He started psychotherapy because he was lying in bed for days without motivation. His thoughts only revolved around the phobia: "Since the beginning of my studies I had avoided contacts at the university, I was afraid that I would get into a situation where someone would go to the toilet with me and discover my problem." There was a great need to confide in someone. But the fear of exposing yourself was greater. The performance suffered as a result: "I was sitting in full lecture halls and could not follow the professor with concentration. I was paying attention all the time to when I had to go to the toilet again. Then you start to ponder how do I get out of here? Is someone already in the toilet when I get there? " Patrick E. even avoided study groups. For many who suffer from paruresis, the phobia becomes a constant background noise in the head, says Hammelstein.

Shy bladder triggers are often key experiences during puberty. In the 7th grade, Patrick E. was observed by two older students as he simply stood in front of the pool without peeing: "What kind of a person are you, nothing comes out of you, why are you then in the toilet one of the two asked condescendingly. Patrick L. felt like he had failed. The fear that something like this will happen again can trigger a stress reaction the next time you go to the toilet: "The ring muscles contract, they remain tense and block the urethra," explains Hammelstein. In anxiety disorders as well as in threatening situations, the body often reacts with so-called fight-flight reactions. Some of these can be explained evolutionarily: "When there was an imminent danger, it probably didn't make sense for our ancestors to stop and urinate," says the psychotherapist.