The Relationship Blog

Intimacy & Passion – Dr. Bruce Derman, Sex Therapist, Los Angeles

Can A Man Be Passionately Impotent?

Yes. If you are willing to take the unusual step of going to bed and saying “What I have to offer you is impotence,”and proceed to getting into what the impotent penis wants to say. We are so tied to performing that we don’t think the impotent penis has anything to say, nor do we believe that impotency has any value.

As you can see there is nothing in my sexual approach that is not acceptable as long as you are not violating another person. This is especially important when discussing the most prominent problem today which is sexual disinterest. I feel sexual disinterest is the result of pushing so much of ourselves under the bed that it kills our energy, and then we explain it away as sexual disinterested. Even something like feeling angry is not allowed in most sexual beds. In my system, however, if you’re angry then I support you to have angry sex and express your anger fully and passionately. The more you can do that other feelings will emerge that are being blocked by the anger and anger will become less of an issue. It becomes less of an issue because all the energy is now about the bed.

When I began to write the chapter in my book, I recognized that I was getting caught up in the same focus  as all other sexual books which are geared towards sexual satisfaction. When I realized I was violating my own principle of acceptance I reversed course and decided to stand up for the number one unacceptable: unsatisfactory sex. After all this experience also needs to have its place in the bed, and must be appreciated. If you can go to bed and celebrate unsatisfactory sex, you can’t do anything wrong.  I know of no other book that will put a value on unsatisfactory sex. I’ve done it myself and it is tremendously freeing to think that I can come to bed and celebrate unsatisfactory sex. It helps me to move beyond all of my conditioning. I’ve been trained under the same conditioning as everyone else. This is good behavior, this is bad behavior. This is good performance, this is bad performance. Unsatisfactory, when celebrated, frees you of all that conditioning and all the energy that’s tied up in it. In contrast, seeing yourself as a problem, in any way does not help your energy.

Examples Of Freedom From Conditioning in Sex Thearapy

When a couple came to me and said we’re not having sex because we’re angry at each other. I supported them and let them know that what they have to offer is their anger. I stated that their anger is part of who they are and that they should express it passionately. However, you can’t express it passionately unless you are willing to enjoy your own anger. It’s not so much about putting the other person down, it’s about you enjoying your aggressive anger, and allowing yourself to express it. Anger promotes the energy to move beyond sexual disinterest, but only if you celebrate your anger and allow  your passion, and vulnerability in sharing something that’s unacceptable to share and give yourself full permission to do so.

An impotent penis, for example, is something that a lot of people struggle with, but because impotency is a no-no, it’s dreaded by all men. But I support my patients who come in with an impotency issue to accept this behavior and support them to express it. I had one instance where a patient said he was experiencing impotency with a woman Once I supported him to express what the penis was really saying, the whole thing shifted. He revealed that he wasn’t prepared to make the commitment to her that she wanted, and he wasn’t willing to be open about it and tell her that he wasn’t committed to her. As a result his penis took over and became impotent. There’s a book that I quote in my chapter that speaks about this also, called “The Hazzards of Being a Male” by Herb Goldberg, and he writes about the wisdom of the penis. Very few men think the penis has any wisdom at all. Either it performs, or it has a problem. A lot of our sexual behavior is based on that kind of thinking. And women are the same way. Either a vagina performs the way it’s supposed to perform or it’s a problem. We don’t respect the messages that are coming up in our sexual beds in the different ways our body expresses itself and consider that valid.

Author: Bruce Derman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, and Santa Monica, California who specializes in working with people in all stages of relationships. You may reach Dr. Derman by calling (818) 375-7194.

For more information on sex therapy in Los Angeles, contact Dr. Bruce Derman PH.D. at

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