Small penis syndrome may be describing something more than simple anxiety and depression issues in some cases. The degree of rigidity of beliefs about the penis and about the rejecting nature of women is very high in some of these men
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One of the largest sources of commentary on the Mental Help Net website in the past months has been due to a series of articles having to do with men's anxiety over their small penis size. In the original articles, An Anxiety Disorder: Small Penis Syndrome, and Male Self Concept and Small Penis Syndrome, Dr. Schwartz's premises was that in many cases, men's penises were not as small as they thought they were, or as unacceptable. A literally outpouring of responses followed which, for the most part, were angry and in opposition to the implication that the perception of having a small penis was a psychological problem more than a physical one. Attempts made by Drs. Schwartz or Dombeck to clarify the issue were largely met with skepticism or rejection.
This spirited discussion was not something we anticipated when the first article on the topic was published. In responding to the ongoing discussion we have struggled to better understand the mindset of the men who complain about this issue which goes by the label, "Small Penis Syndrome". In the current essay, we want to present our working understanding of the psychology behind Small Penis Syndrome, and we want to talk about what men who are dealing with this issue can do to help themselves to feel better. What we have to say about these men comes from our observations of the comments they have left in response to Dr. Schwartz's essays, and some of the interactions that have occurred therein. In making statements about the psychology of an entire group of men we will be drawing a sort of caricature or composite image; something that describes issues this group of men faces in the broad sense, but maybe doesn't perfectly fit any individual case. We know this, and don't want anyone to feel that every thing we say here must specifically apply to them.
Characteristics of Men with Small Penis Syndrome
The men who self-identify as having a small penis that affects their lives in substantively negative ways and who have commented to this effect on Mental Help Net tend to share characteristics in common
A certain psychological rigidity, obsessionality or fixation is present. These men are absolutely adamant in their conviction that their genitalia are too small. They insist that they have measured themselves and seem inordinately focused on such measurement. They are similarly convinced that they are incapable of pleasing a woman via intercourse, although they are, by and large, not able to cite much evidence to show that this is true. In fact, many of these men admit to having had few or no sexual experiences. There is an implication that some of the few sexual experiences had by some of these men were with prostitutes. Many may have had only a single sexual encounter. Others state that they avoid sexuality entirely as they feel deeply ashamed of their penis size. All of these men affirm the belief that women would universally treat them with contempt if they were to see them nude.
These men with Small Penis Syndrome are very much focused and fixated on women and what women want or don't want. They seem to view females as ridiculing, castrating, powerful and "goddess like". The "goddess" energy that is attributed to women is less the positive sexuality of an Aphrodite, however, and more the devouring energy of a Kali. The classical image of the "Vagina Dentata" (the mythic toothed vagina that can bite your penis off) comes to mind.
A Variety of Anxiety Disorder
This highly idealized and unrealistically threatening view of "all women" (at least of "all women" who are potential sexual partners), and the associated avoidance behavior and consequent lack of actual peer relationships with women when such relationships are longed for so achingly is consistent with the idea that Small Penis Syndrome involves, in some cases, a variety of anxiety disorder along the lines of Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). These men engage in avoidance behavior and express deep and fundamental fears about their appearance, ability to perform sexually, and their social adequacy. This fear is further perpetuated by very distorted thinking about women and sexuality.
The anxiety and shame and lack of actual relationship experience characteristic of men with Small Penis Syndrome leads them to feel hopeless and depressed and in some cases, suicidal. This much is clear from statements within comments some of these men have left concerning how they feel miserable and wish to die.
The cognitive rigidity present in mens comments is consistent with the idea that an anxiety disorder or depressive issue is present. These men display prominent cognitive biases in that they easily accept information that tends to confirm their perception of self as inadequate, but reject information that is contrary to their convictions. Only data that convinces them of the smallness of their size and the hopelessness of their existential position is taken seriously and accepted as fact. Our attempts to argue points of fact with these men were adamantly rejected, and we were more than once accused of holding out false hope when we claimed that having a small penis did not have to be the end of the world.
Possibly: Developmental Delay and Inverted Narcissism
Small penis syndrome may be describing something more than simple anxiety and depression issues in some cases. The degree of rigidity of beliefs about the penis and about the rejecting nature of women is very high in some of these men, suggesting something akin to a personality disorder, or, more simply, a developmental delay that some of these men may have experienced in terms of their social maturity, perhaps as a consequence of the trauma of their shame over their small penis. It appears that in some cases, these men's view of women remains cast in the relationship of boy to mother (or, if you prefer, worshiper to goddess), rather than adult man to adult woman. There is little sense of these men believing they are in peer relationships with women.
We have come up with the term "Inverted Narcissism" in our attempts to try to characterize the nature of the developmental delay we've perceived occurring in Small Penis Syndrome. To understand what we mean by inverted narcissism, it is first important to understand the psychological term "narcissism".
Fundamentally, narcissism refers to a person's excessive interest in their self and in the way they look. The narcissist displays a grandiose way of thinking about their own talents, beauty, masculinity or femininity and intelligence. While they have an inflated sense of self-worth, they are generally devaluing and dismissive of others. In fact, to the narcissist, other people are generally not treated as peers, but instead as mere objects to be exploited for selfish motives. A very clear example of a male narcissist would be the "Casanova" who promises women everything in order to exploit them for sexual favors and who abandons them after having gotten what he wants from them.
Inverted Narcissism is a form of narcissism where the roles of exploited and exploiter are reversed from their classical position. The inverted narcissist views himself as nothing more than an object - in this case a penis - to be exploited by others. Other people - in this case potential sexual partners - are seen as all powerful, beautiful, exploiting and derisive. Women are believed to want nothing from a man except a large penis. Women, always cruel and capricious in this view, will abandon men if their penis fails to satisfy. Women will reject any man with a small penis in the most derisive way possible.
Truly Small Penis vs. Faulty Reference Point vs. Body Dysmorphic Disorder
In trying to understand the psychology of Small Penis Syndrome, we have had to grapple with the question of what constitutes a small penis. Most of the men who have written us have supplied their penis measurements (it is a habit of such men to do so). When we have compared such measurements against the few scientifically constructed sampling distributions of male penis size we've found what we've often noted is that the penises of the men writing to us are within the average range of penis size (length anyway) when considered statistically (e.g., plus or minus one standard deviation). They have been on the minus side in many cases, but still within this area of central tendency. Other men have written to us with penises that are smaller than that, but still generally within two standard deviations. When we have tried to point this out, we've been told that our sampling distribution reference points were smaller than the "true" average. Informal websites such as www.sandaoil.info with it's impressive but self-selected sampling distribution of penis sizes are preferred as reference points, and of course the average penis size recorded within these preferred reference points is always larger than anything that has been constructed according to scientifically rigorous standards.
We don't know what the true population penis size is; we can only estimate based on samples. The controversy over which samples to use, with us favoring samples that appeared to have been better constructed but with smaller sample sizes and smaller average penis lengths and the readers favoring samples showing the largest average lengths got us thinking, however. How could we or anyone know when someone actually has a small penis versus a case where the person's penis is actually (truly) average sized (if on the minus side of average) but firmly believes themselves to be small because that person is comparing against a biased sample. And when, if ever, do people cross the line into Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition where a consistent perceptual distortion exists (a delusion if you will) that the body or a part of the body is larger or smaller than it actually is. While BDD is usually identified with anorexia and other eating disorders, it appears to be relevant to this preoccupation with penis size as well. It appears to us that some men have perfectly adequate penises (based on the measurements they've communicated. These penises are not going to break any world records, but they are probably just fine, however, these men are firmly convinced that they are hopelessly inadequately small. There is a question as to whether this scenario is an example of BDD. In other words, do these men: A) have a perceptual delusion in which the self is seen as small when self is really average or, B) do these men represent cases where even the average man is seen as small, based on a belief that no truly average man could possibly satisfy any women? "B" is probably not BDD as this isn't necessarily a perceptual distortion. Instead, "B" may be a distortion of the "reference point" against which the body is compared, rather than a distortion of perception of the body's size. "Reference point" refers to reported penis measurements reported in various published and available on the Internet, and in the form of pornography (e.g., in comparison with male porn stars who have large penises).
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