Psychological Causes Of PE

Psychological Causes Of Premature Ejaculation

It’s an old theory, but it may still have some validity: the idea that a man can be conditioned to ejaculate rapidly by his teenage sexual experiences. For example, if a man was brought up in a household where the subject of sex was associated with anxiety, shame, or guilt, or if he was caught masturbating and humiliated for it as a teenager, then it’s likely that his sexual behaviour in later life would be adaptive. By this, I mean that an individual would still feel the urge to achieve sexual relief, and it’s extremely unlikely that he would stop masturbating, but he may well do it furtively and quickly, training himself to ejaculate as rapidly as possible to minimise the associated guilt and shame. The theory holds that once this pattern of sexual responsivity has been learned, it’s extremely difficult to break the pattern of rapid ejaculation. This has become what is normal for the man, and his sexual responses need to be adjusted to a slower, more relaxed way of achieving arousal, orgasm and ejaculation.

Traumatic Sexual Experience As A Cause Of Premature Ejaculation

In a similar way, any man who experiences a traumatic event around his sexuality, especially during his childhood or adolescence, but also possibly during his early adulthood, may come to associate sexual activity with humiliation, shame or guilt. In such circumstances he will feel anxious about the prospect of sexual interaction with a partner, and this anxiety is in itself a potential cause of premature ejaculation. The reason for this is that anxiety stimulates the nervous system to a higher level of arousal, just as sexual stimulation will do: in other words, anxiety can take a man closer to his point of no return, quicker, than he would otherwise get there. Psychodynamically speaking, this could be viewed as an attempt to minimise the adverse psychological stimuli and minimise internal distress.

Anxiety As A Cause Of Premature Ejaculation

There’s another page on this website that describes the role of anxiety as a cause of premature ejaculation in much more detail. Suffice it to say, however, that both performance anxiety and the fear of failure are strong psychological pressures on men. Society has placed a great deal of pressure on men to perform sexually in a certain way: the popular culture dictates that men should lead during sexual activity, and are now almost compelled to “satisfy” a woman, and are indeed expected to meet most, if not all, of her sexual needs. Since most men have little or no idea how to do any of these things, it’s no wonder that a man may feel anxious in his sexual relationships with women.

Often, simple information can help dispel misconceived ideas around sexuality that put pressure on men: for example, even today, after years of freely available information on the Internet, many couples still believe that if the man engages in vaginal intercourse and thrusts the long enough inside his partner that she will reaching orgasm. These couples know nothing of the role of foreplay, nor the need for a woman to be highly aroused to reach orgasm, and often in addition, she may require stimulation of her clitoris to enable her to reach orgasm.

Depression As A Cause Of Premature Ejaculation

Depression has a major effect on both the body and the mind. When a man is suffering from severe depression, many bodily functions are affected, including appetite and sexual function. Although the exact effects of depression on a man’s sexual functioning may vary from individual to individual, premature ejaculation is a common side effect of depression (as indeed is erectile dysfunction).

Low Sexual Self-Confidence

Younger men who have not had much sexual experience, or more mature men who for some reason have not gathered the sexual experience that generally goes with the man’s development from his adolescence to his early adulthood and beyond, may find that they lack both sexual self-confidence and self-esteem as lovers. This means that they may not know how to please a partner, they may not know how to pleasure a woman, and they may themselves feel inadequate about the speed of their ejaculation or other factors such as the size of their penis. Once again, the anxiety that these factors causes may lead to a rapid ejaculation. The cure, ironically, lies in having a solid sexual relationship with a loving partner, within the framework of which a couple can explore the man’s sexuality and the woman’s sexuality, and find out how best they can extend their lovemaking to achieve mutual pleasure.

Regrettably, many teenage girls are sexually active but extremely naive, and will be looking for guidance from their boyfriends, who are probably also lacking in sexual self-confidence and knowledge.


Guilt around sex is unfortunately extremely common, even in these so-called “liberated days”. Taboos around masturbation, sexual activity before marriage, shame around sexual impulses, guilt about sexual exploration with members of a child or adolescent’s peer group, caused by the reactions of the parents to the discovery of their children’s sexuality….. These, and many other factors besides, can all induce a sense of guilt around sexual activity which can severely affect the natural flow of sexual arousal from desire through to orgasm and resolution.

Furthermore, sexual problems, including premature ejaculation, can be caused by relationship stress and difficulties between partners. Sex is usually one of the first indicators of a relationship fracturing: either because of its absence, or because it’s unsatisfactory to both partners – a woman’s resentment causing anorgasmia, or a man’s anger causing premature ejaculation. There are of course, many other emotions which can lead to sexual dysfunction.


It probably does not need to be explicitly stated that work stress, financial stress, or move any of the myriad of other pressures that abound in modern society can cause sexual dysfunctions.

In short, there are multiple explanations why men develop premature ejaculation from psychological perspective, but none of them have been produced from evidence-based research. In general, psychological theories as to the origin of premature ejaculation of the product of more or less thoughtful synthesis by doctors, therapists, and counselors of one sort or another. It follows, therefore, that these theories are untested but thought-provoking – and it is true, they have been helpful to devolution of premature ejaculation treatment over the years.

As long ago as 1927, Karl Abraham, a German psychoanalyst, suggested that premature ejaculation was caused by hostile feelings towards women combined with childlike pleasure in the loss of control over bodily emission. A fundamental part of this construct is the concept that there is passive pleasure for the man in letting go of his ejaculation in an uncontrolled way, the very idea of ejaculating uninhibitedly, and possibly uncontrollably, is exciting to him.

Psychoanalysis would also hold that the inner child’s narcissistic pleasure is also a fundamental part of the reward that men who make no attempt to control their ejaculation feel when they come inside their partners. However, using psychoanalytic language such as “unresolved infantile narcissism”, and similar, may just obscure the fact that some men are, quite simply, selfish lovers.

In 1943 Bernard Schapiro suggested premature ejaculation was of bodily symptoms that resulted from psychological conflict – something like a psychosomatic headache, perhaps, but the symptom that was expressed in the genitals because this happened to be somehow innately weak in a particular individual.

In psychodynamic terms, anxiety is generally considered the prime cause premature ejaculation. But in saying this we need to be careful, because anxiety can refer to a phobia, an affect, which is the end result of some kind of internal conflict were contradictory urges such as anger and guilt are at play, and the fear of what may happen, such as preoccupation with sexual failure or poor sexual performance.

It is from this psychodynamic and psychoanalytic background that the Masters and Johnson view of premature ejaculation as a learned behaviour actually emerged. It was in reviewing case histories of men who experience like ejaculatory control that Masters and Johnson noticed many men describe the first sexual experiences being characterised by extreme haste, and associated nervousness or anxiety. Masters and Johnson therefore speculated that there was a large element of conditioning in the sexual experience of these men – conditioning to ejaculate rapidly, that is.

And finally, Kaplan suggested that one of the factors involved in rapid ejaculation was a lack of sensitivity on the part of the man to his level of awareness. She suggested that men with PE had simply not developed sufficient or sensitive enough feedback about their level of sexual arousal, so that they experienced a rapid transition from low arousal to ejaculation during sexual stimulation.

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