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March 1972

The New Impotence

Author Affiliations

New York
From the Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(3):218-220. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750210026004

Advocates of social change argue that when harmful repressions are lifted a more successful adaptation will ensue with improvement of the quality of our lives. We report on one aspect of our changing culture: the effect of increased sexual freedom of women on their male partners. Clinical observations are cited which suggest that this cultural shift is resulting in an increase in complaints of impotence among younger men. Several case histories are presented and we discuss reasons for this additional source of impotence. Rather than more successful adaptation, we suggest that social change may have significant effect on the form of individual psychopathological disturbance. Cultural habits not only rest on repression and inhibition but also support a delicate equilibrium. When this equilibrium is disturbed its dynamic effect may result in the appearance of new maladaptations.

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