Paruresis Stories

4 minutes reading time (775 words)

It's getting better all the time


Posted by Baz on 6/6/2002

As is the very healthy tradition on this website, people give feedback on their progress to offer encouragement and information to other sufferers. And so it's my turn.

Here's a list of what's helped me to get to where I'm at now:

breaking the silence barrier

There's already a post exclusively about this so no need to redo it in full except to point out that our condition seems to have two very prominent facets: Firstly there is the urinating problem itself, and secondly there is the very strong sense of fear, shame and embarrassment about talking about it. Breaking the silence barrier tackles the second facet but also clears the way for more effective work on the first.

Once I'd started talking about my condition with family and friends, I felt like I'd conquered half of the problem, and for a while I wasn't too bothered about sorting out the actual "hose lock" itself just because I was experiencing much more freedom in my life anyway.


For those who haven't read the Steven Soifer book, this seems to be the Big Gun for fighting this condition. I've been desensing with two other guys in a support group which we ourselves set up. We met at an AP meeting; see the up-coming events page for info on the next one. I've also been desensing with my counsellor (who agreed to it after I showed him the book). And I also sometimes do little desense "tours" of public toilets in my town just on my own. If you'd told me three months ago that I'd be able to piss in a public urinal with other people around, I'd have just laughed at you (somewhat bitterly).

changing your attitude

Also known as "cognitive restructuring". As sufferers of this condition we have slightly lost touch with reality when it comes to public toilets. (Other people really don't care what you're doing or how long you take.) Recognising this and counteracting it with new thinking is an important part of recovery. Also adopting a "f*** 'em" attitude helps, e.g. "I'm here and I'll take as long as I want to have a piss, so f*** off!"

Here's a summary of the approaches I've tried which have been helpful in bringing about this kind of thought-process restructuring:

Hypnotherapy, which included things like learning a relaxation technique that can be employed when standing at the urinal for when you feel yourself starting to tense up (this is a very useful tool for outwaiting other people and remaining relaxed).

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation something or other), which is handy for understanding how your condition started (it's a kind of Freudian Free Association technique with some added Hypnosis "oomph" to it).

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is good stuff to get knowledgeable about (I went to an introductory Adult Education evening course). It helps you become aware of negative thinking and gives strategies for turning it around.

Counselling is generally good, especially if you've got a good counsellor (but remember that you retain responsibility for your recovery - if you start relying on them, it isn't going to happen; talking alone will not solve this problem). Desensing with a counsellor is particularly effective because you can explore your thought processes as they come up in the toilet situation. (One way to get reduced rate, quality counselling and hypnotherapy is to become a member of the National Phobics Society –

What else? I've come across various positive outlooks from other peoples' posts especially on the American board. They seem quite useful for helping to keep a good angle on the condition as a whole. This is one I particularly liked:

"That which doesn't outright kill you will ultimately strengthen you".

Maybe it's hard to believe this where you are at now with your AP; however for me, coming out of the other side of it, I can testify that it's true. I actually feel glad that I've been through this particular slice of hell and have come out of it a stronger person with a deeper sense of inner confidence.

(As a Christian, the belief that God has good plans for us all and loves us all to bits has been very important for me in my recovery. This is a religious reworking of the above attitude, so either ignore it or convert.)

And that's about all dear friends – brotherhood of pissers. Except of course I haven't said how "cured" I am.

Well, at the time of writing this, I'd say I'm 100% cured on the "being able to talk" side of things and about 35% cured on the "being able to piss" side of things.

That's at the moment…but like I say, "It's getting better all the time". 

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