Psychological Causes 2

Psychodynamic Issues and Delayed Ejaculation

Read more about the psychological causes here and here.

What this basically means is that men with delayed ejaculation might have a “disconnected relationship” with their own sexuality. Or at least a connection with it that’s somehow different to the average man’s.

The best way of putting it is to say that their relationship with their own sexuality seems to be somewhat remote or distant.

And why? Several possible reasons.

Men often have less understanding of their own internal world, the world of thoughts and feelings, than women do.

As men, we often ignore or suppress our feelings, or we externalize them –  in other words, we live them out, rather than really feeling them. In either case, this dissociation can be important, as it can protect us from painful past experiences.

How disconnected from your feelings are you when making love?
How disconnected from your feelings are you when making love?

If delayed ejaculation is an expression of suppressed feeling, then the most likely feelings that are being hidden are sexual shame or guilt, fear and anger.

So one way to understand why you have delayed ejaculation is to look at how your history, particularly when it was traumatic in some way, may be directly connected to your current sexual problems.

Now, many men would like to believe that a physical problem of some kind is causing their ejaculation difficulty; and many hope there’s a simple solution available – using some kind of drug as opposed to some kind of sex therapy, perhaps.

But the reality is rather different. First, there are no drugs to treat delayed ejaculation, and secondly, very few cases of delayed ejaculation are caused by physical issues.

Let’s examine this in a bit more detail.

The Psychology Of Male Ejaculation Problems

Many men with delayed ejaculation think their their sexual responses should be automatic and natural.

Unfortunately, sometimes our past experience can get in the way of our natural sexuality.

You see, normal male sexual development depends on a supportive environment throughout childhood and adolescence. During these periods of our lives, we need our parents to accept our sexuality as it is, and to model the healthy expression of sexuality. As something free-flowing, to be celebrated and offered up to the world as the sacred male energy it is. Not to be held in tightly, as something to be feared, as you might assume was happening in delayed ejaculation or prolonged intercourse.

But many men grow up in an environment where sexual shame or other negative emotions are commonplace, or where they experience some trauma around sex or sexuality.

And then the basic conditions for the development of healthy masculine sexuality will not be met, and the result might be that  a man has some issues around sex as an adult.

Sidebar – premature ejaculation can also be the product of an upbringing in an environment where a man’s relationship with his own sexuality or with women was overlain by inappropriate, stressful, or even traumatic influences.

A lot of men seeking a solution for delayed ejaculation also seem to have had an upbringing which was judgmental and critical, often emphasizing the need for a boy to “toughen up” and not show weakness.

Often a man’s father may have demonstrated, or directly said, that weakness in any form was not acceptable.

This is not an environment in which normal male development can proceed easily.

In fact, many men who had an upbringing like this are later unable to deal with their male responsibilities in the adult world because they have no real internal sense of their masculine and sexual qualities.

And with such a history, a man often loses his “erotic inner world”. And then, delayed ejaculation is often not far behind.

This is the world we inhabit inside our minds, the world that allows us to experience sex erotic imagery in a different way from the everyday world.

If you think about this for a moment, you’ll see that when you’re sexually excited, when you engage in sexual activity, your focus on the world changes.

Your consciousness is actually different; you experience your sexual world as different to your everyday world.

But of course they’re not completely separate from each other: particularly when we’re bored, erotic thoughts can suddenly appear from nowhere as a distraction from our boredom.

Equally, when you’re enjoying interacting with your sexual partner, you may find your attention suddenly wanders back to issues you have to deal with the everyday world.

Can you maintain your attention on your partner during lovemaking?
Can you maintain your attention on your partner during lovemaking?

These are common experiences, and they demonstrate that moving between the erotic internal world, and the everyday reality of the external world, is an easy transition for most people.

But many men with delayed ejaculation seem to have difficulty entering their own erotic world.

They find it difficult to create an erotic atmosphere, or to move into an internal world of romance, eroticism or fantasy. Sex becomes a matter-of-fact routine that is almost a chore, like any other everyday task.

That is an approach which deprives the female partner, in particular, of any sense of emotional connection or closeness with a lover.

As a therapist, I’ve observed that a lot of men with DE have what we could describe as an impoverished erotic world, one which is inadequate for creating normal sexual arousal.

Sidebar: Video on sexual stimulation

In other words, sexual stimulation comes solely from the outside, from what is happening to a man.

Without his own internal arousal, or the capacity to feel erotic stimulation just from the excitement of being sexual,the extra kick which might produce enough arousal to take a man to the point of ejaculation is missing. And so delayed ejaculation begins….

And What Did You Learn About Male Sexuality From Society?

We shouldn’t underestimate, either, how men internalize the message that society gives us about male sexuality. And that’s a negative message, mostly.

For several years now, male sexuality has been demonized in some quarters as the root of all sexual evil, and images of abuse by priests and teachers has done little to encourage a positive image of male sexuality.

Whatever the truth about the quality of male sexuality in the world, some men certainly will internalize the view that it is associated inextricably with sexual offenses, violence against women, and abuse.

And when you have internalized a view that your very sexuality is a potential source of trouble, or worse, then it may seem that crossing into your internal erotic world is too dangerous.

This has been expressed as an inability to “walk on the wild side”, so that the risk and excitement of sex is replaced by a “strangulated ideal of harmony and mutuality”.

The essence of male sexual power is lost….and replaced by delayed ejaculation! You’ll see how this situation could erode a man’s power and vitality, and in particular his sexual potency, I’m sure.

What makes this worse is that we know there’s a close link between the sexual drive and aggression.

And so it’s easy for men whose experiences of sex have in some way been tainted with aggression to believe that it’s actually better for them to suppress their desires than to express them openly.

You can see how holding these desires in might well result in a holding or withholding of a man’s sexuality, in the form of delayed ejaculation – a withholding of ejaculation.

Text on Male Sexuality
How very true – but do you believe this wonderful message?

One of the consequences of this, for a number of men at least, is that instead of an open expression of their sexuality with a partner, they develop an autosexual preoccupation with fantasy, pornography, or cybersex.

The unifying factors here are, of course, depersonalization.

In this sort of situation, it’s clear that a man with delayed ejaculation may have difficulty expressing his sexual needs.

And that’s what we see in clinical practice: men with delayed ejaculation can’t ask for the kind of sexual stimulation that would arouse them, the kind of thing which would make sex more intimate and arousing.

Erectile dysfunction
Delayed ejaculation can lead to a man developing erectile dysfunction.

And so, over time, a couple can easily lose a sense of mutually giving and receiving pleasure through touch, and this may in turn result in a man avoiding sex altogether – or, even worse, developing erectile dysfunction.

The solutions for this are described in the treatment program which you can see advertised at the top of the right hand column of this page.

Inhibition Of Ejaculation

One of the most influential sex therapists working in this field was Helen Singer Kaplan, who suggested that there was a parallel between inhibition of the ejaculatory reflex and what has come to be known as parauresis (informally called pee shyness).

Normally, the urge to urinate is under voluntary control, a skill that we learn as we grow up.

But some men develop an inhibitory response which prevents them from urinating when they wish or need to do so. A common example is an inability to urinate in a public toilet.

Is it possible, Kaplan asks, that a man who cannot ejaculate during sex is experiencing a similar phenomenon?

If this were true, what emotional or psychological conflicts might be inhibiting ejaculation?

Kaplan’s idea was that for some reason ejaculation was anxiety provoking, and a man who could not bring himself to the point of climax was avoiding feeling that anxiety by failing to ejaculate, which he did by exerting extreme but unconscious self-control.

Once again, the cause of his problems reaching climax would appear to be some unconscious conflict, or some emotional complex that associates a particular aspect of sexual functioning with a high level of negative or aversive emotional arousal.

Quite what that might be remains a mystery, just as the causes of paruresis remain a mystery.

However, the majority of experts think that ejaculatory dysfunction is often caused by negative experiences, including:

  • the fear of an unwanted pregnancy
  • traumatic sexual experiences
  • fear of sexually transmitted diseases
  • fear of not satisfying a partner
  • fear of negative consequences of sex, and so on
  • sexual aversion
  • emotional feelings like anger, shame, guilt, rage and sexual aversion

Other experts have assumed that inhibition of ejaculation is related to the absence of sexual stimulation, as well as being about a man’s inability to ask for the things that would provide excitement and more stimulation.

There are also some deep-rooted conflict such as fear of hurting the woman during sex, or fear of loss of control.

For the sake of completeness, I’ll list some of these ideas here:

Developmental Issues

If a man’s psychosexual development — which involves separation from the mother and identification with the father, or with other male role models — has not been completed successfully, he may feel on an unconscious level that every act of sexual intercourse has shades of incest.

This is one of the most taboo ridden human interactions, which, just to make things even worse, is laced with shame, secrecy, and the fear of punishment — as well as being identified as an actual act.

A good relationship between parents and children is essential for good sexual health in later life.

Alternatively, it’s possible for a man to see sex with a woman is a representation of a much more generalized threat: absorption by the feminine. This would be true for a man who was not allowed to develop “correctly” as an individual, but whose identity was somehow integrated or absorbed into an invasive mother.

For children who successfully resist being taken over by an invasive mother, the residue of fear and repulsion at any hint of invasiveness can be profound.

It’s not hard to imagine how the act of penetrating a woman could cause unconscious echoes of being invaded or “penetrated” as a child. Such a situation would, quite understandably, not be very sexually arousing to a man.

A third possibility is that the boy has grown up in an environment where a woman has portrayed male sexuality in general, and possibly the penis in particular, as a weapon or agent of aggression, and the boy has come to accept the idea that the penis is a dangerous weapon. Such an unconscious belief would deeply inhibit his sexual expression, and possibly delay his ejaculation… indefinitely.

Fear of Loss of Control

As everyone who’s enjoyed sex knows, orgasm and ejaculation involve a clear “letting go”, a state which is associated with or altered consciousness and loss of control.

For some men it’s possible that these factors could be the source of deep anxiety. It’s possible to imagine many factors could be at work here: fear of embarrassment, shame because of one sexual upbringing, or even conflicts about losing control, when a boy has been brought up to believe that a man is always “in control”.

Hostility and Anger

Some therapists believe that men seeking retarded ejaculation treatment are actually expressing their hostility or anger or rage towards women by refusing to ejaculate.

It’s an interesting hypothesis that may seem completely “off the wall” to anyone who has not had experience working with men around these issues.

Essentially, the denial of orgasm is a passive aggressive attack on the woman which is often accompanied by a man’s overtly gentle and caring behavior towards women in general. Such a man is certainly not in his sexual power.

Extreme Fantasy or Paraphilic Needs

Some therapists believe symptoms of delayed ejaculation result from a man’s extreme dependence on using either extreme fantasy or particular paraphilia.

Because his sexual excitement depends on specific methods of stimulation, normal partner sex which lacks such stimulation may simply not be adequate to bring him to the point ejaculation, although it may be enough for him to develop an erection.

You can probably see that many of these ideas are impossible to investigate scientifically, and remain within the area of psychodynamic theory.

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