Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1–10

The role of nocturnal penile tumescence in differentiating between organic and psychogenic impotence: The first stage of validation

  • Peter Marshall
  • David Surridge
  • Nicholas Delva


A study was conducted to assess the validity of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) as a means of distinguishing between psychogenic and organic erectile failure (impotence). On the basis of independent clinical criteria, patients were assigned to one of four diagnostic categories—organic impotence, psychogenic impotence, mixed etiology, and uncertain etiology. The NPT characteristics of the patients in the organic and psychogenic groups were compared and decision rules formulated in order to provide optimal discrimination between the two diagnostic categories. A decision rule based on the maximum erectile response observed for each patient led to the correct diagnosis in 80% of cases. Accuracy was increased to 95% when a decision rule based on the maximum frequency of nocturnal erections was employed. The clinical value and limitations of NPT as a diagnostic procedure are discussed.

Key words

organic impotence psychogenic impotence nocturnal erections sexual dysfunction erectile dysfunction 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Marshall
    • 1
  • David Surridge
    • 1
  • Nicholas Delva
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyKingston General HospitalKingstonCanada

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