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Penis Size - Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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The impact of a small penis on a man's self-image

Let me be clear right away: I think there are many men who have a normal penis who have some kind of psychological disorder: it manifests as small penis syndrome, and it represents a form of social phobia - an anxiety problem.

Small penis syndrome? What can that be? The answer is that it is a kind of body dysmorphic disorder which men strenuously defend as their view of reality. (You can read more about it here: Small Penis Syndrome.

Well worth reading, especially if you happen to be a woman in relationship with a man obsessed with his penis size.

If you're a man with a normal cock, but no-one can convince you of that fact, reading the article isn't likely to change your view of anything, but it might well make you angry at the injustice and stupidity of the authors.)

I have a lot of sympathy with men in this position. The penis is a fundamental symbol of masculinity, and no wonder therefore that it's so often the object onto which men attach their insecurities and low self-esteem. It's easier, obviously, to blame your lack of confidence and social problems on a small penis than to accept that you have some psychological problems.

Blaming your cock for your problems makes you less inherently unworthy in your own perception.....which leads me to the conclusion that many of the men with small penis syndrome must have a very high level of self-loathing. (But then, any Jungian analyst would confirm that we all do.)

What's the cure? Expert psychotherapy. As much as it takes.

And yet, I admit, this issue is not straightforward....if a man has small flaccid dick, but a normal size erection, does he have a problem? Surely, the answer here is only meaningful within the social context in which he operates. If the people around him in mock him for the small size of his dick, not knowing how big it is when erect, then you might say he has a problem. But why does it affect him? He knows how large his erect penis is, and he knows he can satisfy his lovers.....well, the size of his penis still matters to him because of what other men think about him.

Ah....so is this just another form of male competitiveness? Or is it that without even realizing it we have all (i.e. all we men) absorbed the notion that our masculinity is pinned on our dick size? How much would you like to walk around with a massive tool swinging between your legs? Hmmm.....quite an attractive idea, is it not? But why? Is it that we also think there is a relationship between penis size and male power?

And could that actually be true? Is there a place in the male psyche where we subconsciously assess our penis size, compare it with other men's, and come to some conclusion about where we sit in the pecking order? Or is there more to it that that?

If penis size is determined by the level of androgen (meaning testosterone) in the male fetus during uterine development - I'm not saying it is, just putting forward the possibility - then there might be an indirect connection between cock size and male power.

This is because the level of androgen certainly does determine the degree of brain masculinization, which in turn has a major influence on how "male" a boy grows up to be. Ergo: large cock, masculinized brain, lots of male characteristics and male behavior.

Unfortunately the elegant simplicity of this theory is somewhat diminished by the fact that many social influences also affect how masculine a boy grows up to be, most notably how much he learns about male behavior from the men around him during childhood and puberty.

And what about the man whose penis is small both when flaccid and erect? How does he reconcile his vision of maleness with his understanding of the relationship between penis size and masculinity?

When he's making love to his partner, does he feel how wonderful the experience is, or does he spend time wondering what it would feel like if his penis could fill her to the limit, stretch her wide, and make her gasp as he enters her?

And if it did all those things, would it make him feel more masculine? That's a challenging question to answer, because there's no way of knowing....you might believe it would, but how would it ever be possible to find out?

In the end, perhaps the whole issue is just about confidence in oneself as a man. And, most likely, that does not come from having a large penis, but from the experiences we are subjected to in childhood - most specifically, whether or not we are brought up to believe that we're a powerful person.

And yet, to prove this beyond doubt, I'd like to know how many men with small - abnormally  small, genuinely small - penises have a high level of self-confidence as adults. I suspect the proportion is a lot lower than the percentage of men with a large penis who are highly confident.

And, just so you get a feel for the nature of small penis syndrome (Click to read original work)...

Click to read the defining work on SPS

Characteristics of Men with Small Penis Syndrome

Men who think -- nay, are convinced -- that they have a small penis (in the face of all the evidence to the contrary), share certain characteristics. They tend to display a degree of psychological rigidity in their thinking, and they often show symptoms of obsessionality and fixation.

Without exception, they are absolutely convinced and dogmatic about their conviction that their penis is too small; they have often spent time measuring themselves and they are very focused on the issue of size.

Equally these men are convinced that they have not got the ability to satisfy a woman during sexual intercourse -- although generally speaking they have little proof of this. Often they have had few or no sexual encounters, certainly having fewer sexual relationships than the average, but at the same time having a higher level of experience with sex workers than average.

It's interesting how many of them have had a single sexual encounter which they report as having been disastrous, and from which they emerge adamant that they will never have sex again. Even if a man isn't this extreme, there is often an avoidance of sex which has an air of deep shame about it. Unfortunately these men also expect to be treated badly by women, an expectation which, judging by their descriptions appears to be self-fulfilling.

Men with small penis syndrome are very much fixated on women as an incomprehensible gender: possessing mysterious powers to dominate and subordinate, perhaps even to destroy a man ... symptomatic, maybe, of a view that sees the woman as a goddess: but not the goddess Aphrodite, more the destructive goddess Kali.

It's hard not to imagine that in psychodynamic terms, this is something about castration fear, being ridiculed by a mother at an early age, and being cheated of one's own masculinity. It's almost like these men need to get their balls back.

Who has their balls is another question altogether ... judging by the contempt with which they often treat women, it's not hard to make a few guesses.

So is this a form of anxiety disorder? A man who idealizes and at the same time regards all women as threatening (or at least all women who might be sexual partners), and shows avoidance behavior and lack of actual relationships with women whilst purporting to wish for a normal relationship with a woman, is probably displaying some kind of anxiety disorder like social phobia, a condition marked out by avoidance behavior and the fundamental fear that his appearance, confidence, social competence, and ability to perform sexually are totally inadequate.

Incessant worrying, and distorted thinking about female sexuality in general and women in particular are also a hallmark of this condition.

There's no denying that these are real symptoms: so much so that men often express the wish to die, commit suicide, or retreat from society in general. Such rigidity of thinking does fit with the idea that small penis syndrome is an anxiety disorder or a form of depression.

The selective way in which men absorb knowledge and information that confirms their prejudices, while accepting as fact the hopelessness of their case, is characteristic of such disordered thinking.

A side note: it's hard to imagine that any man who stresses himself out worrying about his penis size is going to be a good lover. At the very least, the high levels of anxiety are likely to give him premature ejaculation and prevent him ejaculating too soon for men. That is not going to increase his confidence any further.

Developmental Delay and Inverted Narcissism

Whatever the cause of small penis syndrome, the high level of anxiety and depression, associated with rigidity of beliefs about the penis and women's attitudes to men suggests a personality disorder or a developmental delay in emotional maturation. It isn't hard to see that some of these men display an attitude which is that of a little boy in subservience to a dominating and unhealthy mother.

Yet the interesting thing is that one rarely hears these men blaming their mothers for their situation, which makes a real contrast with men in psychotherapy who have damaged relationships with women and are fully aware that the damage comes from the fact they were emotionally (or in some other way) abused by their mother in childhood.

Two writers have invented the term "Inverted Narcissism" to characterize the developmental delay that they believe occurs in small penis syndrome.

What this implies is an inversion of the classic form of narcissism, where an individual displays grandiosity of thinking about their own characteristics while regarding others as mere tools for their gratification.

We can regard inverted narcissism as a reversal of these roles, where the inverted narcissist sees himself as nothing more than an object defined individual who is to be exploited by others -- in this case the man with the small penis is to be exploited and abused by potential sexual partners: women who want nothing less than a large penis.

The view that these men take of women is that women will always be cruel and capricious, abandoning a man instantly when his penis fails to satisfy them, in the most contemptuous way possible.

Genuinely Small Penis vs. Faulty Reference Point vs. Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Needless to say of course things are not always so simple. There are men who have a genuinely small penis which falls well below the average size. The distinction between small penis syndrome and men in this category is that these men may not have the same attitudes towards women or the same rigidity of thinking.

They may lack confidence in sexual encounters, but they will not have the same expectations of contempt and derision. unfortunately this lack of confidence can often produce persistent sexual dysfunctions based on the emotional experiences of fear and anger - especially delayed ejaculation.

Of course the question is how you draw the line between small penis syndrome and the impact of a genuinely small penis. In scientific terms, an abnormally small penis is generally agreed to be one that is more than two standard deviations below the average size (not that there's much agreement about what the mean or average penis size actually is!).

Those Internet sites which purport to present results of penis size surveys generally favor the ones where both length and girth are larger rather than smaller. What we do know as an absolute certainty is that when men are asked to measure their own penises they overestimate by a fairly considerable margin (about half an inch in length, for example).

So when do men cross into Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)? This condition is a delusional distortion that one part of the body is larger or smaller than it actually is. The classic form is anorexia and eating disorders. But BDD does seem to have some relevance to these men's distorted preoccupation with penis size.

These are men whose penises are perfectly adequate and indeed could be considered absolutely normal, yet who are absolutely, totally convinced that their penises are hopelessly inadequate in size. Could this be body dysmorphic disorder?

Obviously it might, but you would have to know if these men had a perceptual delusion (i.e. they were seeing their penis as smaller than it actually is) or were just showing distorted thinking (the belief that no average man could satisfy any woman sexually).

This latter case is most likely not BDD because it isn't a perceptual distortion. It's a distortion of thinking, possibly brought about by selective reading of information backed up by the distorted images of male penis size seen in pornography. 

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