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A question on paruresis for professional women

Name Omitted, please excuse this richardlz at aol.com
Fri Sep 15 16:09:01 EST 1995

This is a serious letter about a serious medical problem.  It is not
a joke or a prank.  Please read through and if you can be of help
feel free to send e-mail to me.

There is a human malady euphemistically known as the pee-shy syndrome,
the bashful-bladder syndrome, or scientifically as psychogenic urinary
retention or paruresis.   The scientific literature on this is 
extremely sparse and consists mostly of uncontrolled individual case
reports.  Those who have this problem are, believe it or not, unable
to micturate (void) under a variety of conditions.  They are disturbed
by noise, by the presence nearby of other people (even if there is 
visual privacy).  They can not void if there is a perceived time
pressure--that is, when they are in a hurry.  They often can not void in
restrooms on airplanes.

Though this might sound amusing,  the problem is very severe in some
people and very debilitating.  It can turn some victims into virtual
reclusives as they will not use any toilet other than the one at home.
Travel, and even prolonged shopping can be difficult, and random 
drug tests are a nightmare for them.  There was once a newspaper report
of a woman with this condition taken by ambulance after suffering a
breakdown due to a 9 hour unsuccessful attempt to provide what her
employer demanded.  There is a report in the literature of a woman
who somehow managed to learn to hold it for 48 h at a time.  This afflicts
both men and women, and causes them great emotional harm, embarassment,
and humiliation.  Typically those suffering from this will tell no one
but their spouses.

I am in the process of forming a private-moderated support, discussion
and study group on this problem.  Psychology is not my professional area,
I am a Bacteriologist.  But I believe that I can use my scientific
analytical skills to help unravel some of the unknowns about psychogenic
urinary retention.

OUr group currently has 22 members; 19 are ill, three are professional
therapists who have an interest in this problem.  One member is a
physician who suffers from the illness. 

Nearly all members are male, there is only one woman in the group.
My purpose in writing this to bionet.women-in-bio is to try to find
additional women with the problem.  Firstly so our one woman will have
a female companion who understands;  second and more importantly,
I do not think we will ever learn the underlying pathology of this
if we view it as a male problem-which it clearly isn't.  We simply must
find women willing to come forward and discuss this problem.

So, if any of you suffer from this, or if you would just like to volunteer
to help out with scientific issues, literature searches, data analysis,
or the provision of a sympathetic ear, please e-mail me at
richardlz at aol.com     Oh, there is a newsgroup alt.support.cant.urinate.
in-public  that is not widely available.  It had been accessible through
AOL but they dropped it.  Most Universities don't carry it.  It is
present on Prodigy.  If you don't care to write directly to me,
put a message for me on the newsgroup and ask that someone who knows
me passes it along.

I have no problem with receiving mail through the anonymous server
at anon.penet.fi, though I have found that I often can not 
successfully write to the originator.  If you use your real e-mail
address, be assured that I will protect your privacy and not reveal it
without your permission.  

Please ladies,  this is a serious issue and I would appreciate it 
if I don't get any flames or immature silly responses.  Thank you.

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