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The Nervous Bladder

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Urination serves many functions among mammals. The lowly rat, for example, leaves urine-marks to label its habitat, defend its territory, assert its dominance and advertise its sexual availability (Birke & Sadler, 1984). Rats urine-mark preferred foods and, in what seems a cruel prank, but probably is not, they crawl over their fellows and leave small wet patches as souvenirs. By smelling urine markings rats can detect the sex, age, receptiveness, social status and stress levels of the marker and can navigate in the dark along established scuttling routes. These complexities are absent from human urination, which serves the single function of voiding the wastes that our kidneys have filtered from our bloodstream.


  • Social Anxiety
  • Urinary Retention
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Nocturnal Enuresis
  • Bodily Shame

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© 2012 Nick Haslam

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Haslam, N. (2012). The Nervous Bladder. In: Psychology in the Bathroom. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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