Pee Shy


I suffer from Paruresis, a physiological condition that affects my ability to urinate. Also known as Shy Bladder, Pee-Phobia, Shy Bladder Syndrome or wait, my favorite, Bashful Bladder, (could you just see it: my bladder peaking its head out from behind a doorway?), I, like 20 million other Americans, develop an intense apprehension when faced with having to use a public restroom. I can rarely, if ever, use a urinal – particularly if there are no partitions. I feel the other men’s eyes boring into the back of my head, judging me, criticizing me. I stare straight ahead at the bland, white subway tile, never looking down, and certainly not side to side (I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was stealing a peak at their business).

I have kept this secret for years, sneaking off to the stalls when-ever I had to pee in public, but now I want to come out of the bathroom and share this embarrassing condition with the world.

Truth be told, I have been in therapy for years trying to figure out, among other things, why I have this phobia. I know it stems from being molested by my Scout Master when I was eleven. And yes, for some reason, victims of child molestation are prone to develop Shy Bladder Syndrome. My good friend, Carrie, who was also molested, couldn’t even use the stalls. She claimed others were peaking at her through the spaces in-between the doorway.


There is no good medical cure for paruresis other than psychotherapy. My condition has gotten better over the years, but since I’ve told you all my secret, I fear that I have cemented my fate and will be banished to the stalls for good.


If I listen, I can actually hear those thoughts arguing in my head, “Hurry up damn it. Everyone is staring at you. Oh my god, is that George Michael breathing down my neck? Wait, is that Larry Craig’s foot?”



  1. mich lyon
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    perhaps we should do some practice sessions to help you develop a ‘comfort zone’? we will drink a bunch of beers then ill stand behind you while you pee?

  2. Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    My problem is just the opposite and it gets me in a lot of trouble. I guess it is from years of being a runner and jock but I can pee anywhere (and have) and in front of anyone (and have). I know this comment is going to sound sexual but it is not. I simply can take out my dick and pee and my old man mind forgets that sometimes it is just not the right thing to do. My only limitation is I will not take a leak and talk on my cell. My mother did not raise a total asshole.

  3. Posted May 4, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    i’ve been pee-shy most of my life (tho i was never, to my knowledge, sexually-abused so perhaps i am speaking out of turn) and i think you will actually find more relief (pun intended) having shared your condition with a large audience because i think overcoming pee-shyness is about confronting our upbringing, and the resulting feelings/attitudes/beliefs regarding modesty, nudity, our bodies and the shame often associated with these concepts.

    for me, i’ve found that a) confronting the anxiety and forcing myself to pee around others (the first few times it helps to REALLY have to go!) and b) being more open, casual and accepting of my body and with regard to exposing myself (at the gym in the locker room, in the showers, etc.) have helped me to become comfortable enough to pee nearly anytime and in nearly any (appropriate) context. i hope the same outcome will be true for you…

  4. spinellimd
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Duane. I really appreciate your your comments and your advice. My situation has gotten better over the years. I only bring it up now because I feel people suffer from this conidition but are too ashamed to ask for help. Thanks again. FS

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