Psychogenic impotence: Is it possible to differentiate it from organic impotence with personality, psychopathological and defensive indexes?


In this study, the authors compared 2 samples of patients suffering from organic (N.29) and psychogenic (N.52) erectile dysfunction, with the aim of identifying psychological dimensions which could differentiate between the two samples and adequate psychometric instruments to measure them. The following evaluation scales were used: Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire— Revised (PDQ-R), Symptom Check List 90 (SCL-90) and Defense Style Questionnaire—Short Form (DSQ-SF) in order to assess personality traits, psychiatric symptoms and defensive styles, respectively. PDQ-R, SCL-90 and DSQ-SF were found to be inadequate to differentiate between the two samples of psychogenically and organically impotent patients. Moving from this negative result the authors formulate some hypothesis on the possibility and the opportunity of research on this direction, and on the possible meaning of psychogenic impotence.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised, Washington D.C., 1987.

  2. 2.

    Andrews G., Pollock C. & Stewart G. The Determination of Defense Style by Questionnaire. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1989, 46, 455–460.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Beutler L.E., Karacan I., Anch A.M., Salis P.J., Scott F.B. & Williams R.L. MMPI and MIT discriminators of biogenic and psychogenic impotence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1975, 43, 899–903.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bond M., Perry J.C., Gautier M., Goldenberg M., Oppenheimer J. & Simand J. Validating the self-report of defense styles. Journal of Personality Disorders, 1989, 3, 101–112.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Camic P.M. Differentiating organic and psychogenic erectile dysfunction with the Millon Behavior Health Inventory, Sexuality and Disability, 1983, 6, 145–149.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Derogatis L.R., Lipman P.S. & Covi L. SCL-90: An outpatient psychiatric rating scale. Preliminary Report. Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 1973, 9, 13–28.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Derogatis L.R., Meyer J.K., Dupkin C.N. Discrimination of organic versus psychogenic impotence with DSFI. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1976, 2, 229–240.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Fisher C., Schiavi R.C., Lear H., Davis D.M., Witkin A.P: The assessment of nocturnal REM erection in the differential diagnosis of sexual impotence. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. 1975, 1:277.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Hunt C Andrews G. Measuring Personality Disorder: the use of self report questionnaire. Journal of Personality Disorders, 1992, 6 (2) 125–133.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Hyler S.E. & Rieder O.R. PDQ-R: Personality Disorders Questionnaire—Revised, New York: New York Psychiatric Institute, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Hyler S.E. & Rieder R.O., Williams J.B.W., Spitzer R.L., Hendler J., Lyons M. The Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire: Development and preliminary results. Journal of Personality Disorders. 1988, 2, 229–237.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Hyler S.E., Rieder R.O., Williams J.B.W., Spitzer R.L., Lyons M., Hendler J. A comparison of clinical and self-report diagnoses of DSM III Personality Disorders in 552 patients. Comprehensive Psychiatry. 1989, 30, 170–178.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Hyler S.E., Skodol A.E., Kellman H.D., Oldham J.M., Rosnick L. Validity of the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire—Revised: comparison with two structured interviews. American Journal of Psychiatry. 1990, 147, 1043–1048.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kaplan H.S. The illustrated manual of sex therapy (second edition). Mark Paterson and Brunnel/Mazel Inc. 1975, 1987.

  15. 15.

    Karacan I., Salis P.J., Williams R.C.: The role of the sleep laboratory in diagnosis and treatment of impotence. In: Sleep Disorders: Diagnosis and Treatment. Edited by R.C. Williams, I. Karacan. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. part III chapt. 14, 353–381, 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kockott G., Feil W., Revenstorf J. & Besinger U. Symptomatology and psychological aspects of male sexual inadequacy: results of an experimental study. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 1980, 9, 457–475.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Levenson H., Olkin R., Herzoff N., Delancy M. MMPI evaluation of erectile dysfunction: failure of organic vs. psychogenic decision rules. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1986, 46, 752–754.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Marshall P., Surridge D., Delva N. Differentiation of organic and psychogenic impotence on the basis of MMPI decision rules. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1980, 48, 407–408.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Martin L.M., Rodgers D.A., Montague D.K. Psychometric differentiation of biogenic and psychogenic impotence. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 1983, 12, 475–485.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Melman A. & Redfield J. Evaluation of the DSFI as a test of organic impotence. Sexuality Disability, 1981, 4, 108–114.

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Padma-Nathan, H. Evaluation of the veno corporal veno-occlusive mechanism: dynamic infusion cavernosometry cavernosography, Semin. Interven. Radiol., 1989, 6:205.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Perconte S.T., Griger M.L. & Bellucci G. Psychometric evaluation of biogenic versus psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Annals of Sex Research, 1989, 2, 335–344.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Reid K., Surridge D., Harris C., Condra M., Fenemore J., Owen J. & Morales A. The psychological correlates of psychogenic impotence: a retrospective comparison of psychogenically and organically impotent men. Sexuality and Disability, 1987, vol.8, 3–16.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Segraves R.T., Schoenberg H.W., Zarins C.K., Knopf J. & Camic P. Discrimination of organic versus psychogenic impotence with the DSFI; a failure to replicate. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1981, 7, 230–238.

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Segraves K.A. & Segraves R.T. Differentiation of biogenic and psychogenic impotence with the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and the Inventory of Sexual Attitudes. Personal and Individual Differences, 1986, 7, 425–432.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Segraves R.T. Discrimination between psychogenic and biogenic impotence utilizing psychometric instruments. Sexuality and Disability, 1987, 8, 138–142.

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Staples R.B., Ficher I.V., Shapiro M., Martin K. & Gonick P.A. reevaluation of MMPI discriminators of biogenic and psychogenic impotence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1980, 48, 543–545.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Orlandinim MD.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Orlandinim, A., Rizzi, P., Fossati, A. et al. Psychogenic impotence: Is it possible to differentiate it from organic impotence with personality, psychopathological and defensive indexes?. Sex Disabil 11, 259–267 (1993).

Download citation


  • Personality Trait
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Psychiatric Symptom
  • Impotence
  • Psychological Dimension