Sexual Dysfunction and Therapy

Is shadow work useful as therapy for sexual dysfunction?

Shadow work, a therapeutic approach rooted in Jungian psychology, delves into the unconscious aspects of the psyche, often referred to as the “shadow.” This shadow self encompasses aspects of ourselves we deem unacceptable or repress due to societal or personal conditioning. While the concept is broad and can be applied to various aspects of life, exploring its potential in addressing sexual dysfunction holds intrigue.

The Potential Benefits of Shadow Work for Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can stem from various hidden emotional or psychological factors. Shadow work encourages introspection and the exploration of repressed desires, fears, traumas, and negative beliefs related to sexuality. By bringing these unconscious elements to light, individuals can gain deeper insights into the root causes of their difficulties.

Often, sexual dysfunction is accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy surrounding intimacy. Shadow work provides a safe space to acknowledge and process these emotions, fostering self-compassion and acceptance. This can be crucial in dismantling negative self-perceptions that hinder healthy sexual expression.

The shadow self often houses aspects of our personality deemed undesirable, like assertiveness, sensuality, or vulnerability. Shadow work encourages the integration of these rejected aspects, leading to a more authentic and whole self-expression. This integration can translate into a more fulfilling and uninhibited sexual experience.

Facing and accepting one’s shadow can be an empowering experience. It fosters self-awareness, self-compassion, and a greater sense of wholeness. This newfound confidence can positively impact various aspects of life, including sexual relationships.

However, it’s crucial to remember  shadow work can be emotionally challenging: Confronting repressed aspects of oneself can stir up uncomfortable emotions. It’s important to approach this process with patience, self-compassion, and potentially seek professional guidance. And it’s not a quick fix: shadow work is an ongoing process of self-discovery and integration. It requires consistent effort and dedication to yield lasting results, and professional help might be necessary. While shadow work can be a valuable tool for self-exploration, including times when you are addressing complex sexual dysfunction.

So, shadow work holds promise as an approach alongside traditional therapy for sexual dysfunction. By shedding light on unconscious aspects of ourselves, it can pave the way for deeper self-understanding, emotional healing, and ultimately, a more fulfilling and uninhibited sexual life. However, it’s important to remember that this is a multifaceted process that may require professional guidance and support.

If you’re interested in exploring shadow work for your own sexual well-being, consider consulting a therapist trained in Jungian psychology or shadow work techniques. They can provide a safe and supportive space to guide you through this potentially transformative journey.

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:


“The Shadow Work Journal” by Robert T. Carter

“Jung on the Shadow and Unconscious” by Edward F. Edinger

Websites: Healing The Shadow organisation

Remember, you’re not alone in your journey towards sexual well-being. With dedication, self-compassion, and the right support, you can unlock your full potential for intimacy and pleasure.

How does the concept of archetypes fit into this?


Proposed by Carl Jung, and believed to reside in the collective unconscious, shared by all humans across cultures and time, examples of archetypes are: Hero, Trickster, Wise Elder, Mother, King Warrior Magician Lover. These represent universal themes, patterns, and experiences that resonate deeply with humans. They provide foundational models for understanding the world, ourselves, and our relationships.

Think of archetypes as the broad, universal building blocks of human experience. Schemata are then the specific, individual configurations of those blocks based on our personal experiences. Archetypes like the Shadow itself, the Wise Elder, or the Wounded Child can provide frameworks for examining and understanding the hidden aspects of ourselves that contribute to sexual dysfunction. Archetypes like the Warrior, the Lover, or the Creator can offer inspiration and guidance for integrating our shadow and expressing our authentic selves sexually.

In short, archetypes provide the universal language, while schemata are the individual dialects. Archetypes offer rich symbolism and resonant frameworks, while schemata help us tailor these to our specific needs and experiences.

Action taker (warrior) archetype

Archetypes in shadow work can be used to:

Identify the archetypes relevant to your challenges (e.g., Shadow, Inner Child, Wise Woman). Journal or meditate on these archetypes to explore their specific manifestations in your life. Engage in creative activities that express the archetypal energies (e.g., art, movement, writing). Seek guidance from a therapist trained in Jungian psychology or shadow work.

Remember, archetypes are complex concepts. Exploring them can be a valuable tool for self-discovery and growth, but it’s important to approach them with an open mind and a willingness to learn. If you’re interested in delving deeper, consider consulting a therapist or reading books on Jungian psychology and shadow work.

Is shadow work a conventional or common approach for therapists who work with sexual dysfunction?

While shadow work holds potential as a complementary approach to traditional therapy for sexual dysfunction, it’s important to understand that it’s not currently proven so to be.  Studies to establish its efficacy and validate its place in sexual therapy practices have not yet been conducted.

Currently, most therapists working with sexual dysfunction rely on other treatment methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This approach helps individuals identify and modify negative thoughts and behaviors associated with sexual difficulties. 

Also, they use sensate focus exercises. These exercises guide individuals to reconnect with their bodies and sensory experiences in a safe and non-judgmental way, facilitating more enjoyable sexual encounters. And other important aspects of conventional sexual therapay include: building effective communication skills within relationships plays a crucial role in addressing sexual concerns. 

King archetype (Sovereign or Heart Cemtred Leader)

While some therapists incorporate aspects of Jungian psychology into their practice, not all are specifically trained in shadow work methodologies. This expertise may not be readily available or widely embraced within the field of sexual dysfunction treatment. Every client’s needs and experiences are unique. Therapists tailor treatment plans to address the specific causes and contributing factors of each individual’s sexual dysfunction. While shadow work may be beneficial for some, it might not be the most appropriate or efficient approach for others.

However, this doesn’t mean shadow work has no place in the realm of sexual health. For individuals open to exploring deeper layers of their emotional and psychological makeup, shadow work can offer valuable insights that complement their ongoing therapy for sexual dysfunction. Shadow work techniques can be valuable tools for individual self-exploration and personal growth, which can indirectly impact one’s overall well-being, including sexual health.

As research evolves and the awareness of shadow work techniques grows, its potential contribution to the field of sexual therapy may increase. In conclusion, while shadow work holds promise as a potential tool for addressing sexual dysfunction, it’s currently not a conventional or common approach within the field. If you’re interested in exploring this possibility, it’s crucial to discuss it with a therapist to determine if it aligns with your needs and treatment plan. 

Causes Of Delayed Ejaculation

You may well have thought for a long time about the causes of your delayed ejaculation. The inability to ejaculate when you want to have sex seems grossly unfair – after all, the guys you see in pornographic material seem to thrust away in their ever-willing partners for what seems like hours, and yet delayed ejaculation can make it impossible to make love in any way, skillfully or otherwise, your partner is unsatisfied, and you are frustrated and unhappy about your loss of potency. So just what is causing your yet delayed ejaculation?

A physical cause such as occlusion of the penile arteries, diabetic induced neuropathy, or penile injury

Needless to say, these are the more intractable cases of yet delayed ejaculation, and they may need the helping hand of a therapist to produce a lessening of symptoms.

Another cause of delayed ejaculation is emotional – anxiety or anger or fear

When you feel unconscious anger at your partner – or women in general – then you’re not likely to want to have sex with her, unless this is the way that you express your anger.

Some sexual therapists suggest that men canot ejaculate because the withholding of sexual favors is like a punishment for their partner, depriving her of the satisfaction of orgasmic pleasure. 

In fact the mechanism by which a man loses his capacity to orgasm is probably more dependent on anger reducing desire than a passive-aggressive withholding of sexual favors: after all, why would you want sex with someone you didn’t feel intimate with? In the latter case, you may be having sex to express anger; yet delayed ejaculation suggests you are so angry you are turned off your partner.

A fear of having sex, or fear of having sex with a particular woman. Delayed ejaculation, especially when it occurs in young men, can be a clear sign that the man in question knows less about his real feelings of sexual attraction than his penis does!

Such problems usually mean that a man does not in fact want to have sex with his partner, and whatever the reason for this, the recognition that it is not necessary to feel sexually attracted to every woman with whom one could potentially have sex is a powerful insight.

This may well be an emotional challenge for all men who were brought up by a woman who used them either as an emotional support or as a vehicle for the expression of their own rage and frustration against men.

Delayed ejaculation is a great way to avoid the ultimate form of intimacy and to minimize the chance of an unappealing sexual encounter.

Other psychological causes

When a man is with a woman with whom he would rather not have sex, delayed ejaculation is possible. Be honest with yourself about this: simply ask, would you rather be with someone other than your partner? If the answer is “yes”, that’s a pretty good clue to the origins of your yet delayed ejaculation.

If you progress too fast from starting sex to the point of penetration, not allowing enough time for sexual arousal to grow and develop, then you will find that your ejaculation becomes more elusive, more challenging to maintain, and more difficult to keep firm.

You may have delayed ejaculation simply because you are not aroused enough, a problem which becomes especially apparent as you get older and require more stimulation and excitement. 

Moving though the stages of sexual arousal too quickly

Men with sexual self-confidence understand the signals they receive from their bodies about how sexually aroused they are, but a lot of men who don’t get erect simply do not understand how aroused (or not) they actually are.

Men want sex, and they tend to get frustrated and unhappy when they can’t have it. Delayed ejaculation seems like a disaster – and psychologically, for may men, it really is. Effective treatment of how to delaye ejaculation is essential to male sexual and emotional health. And yet delayed ejaculation is very common: about 1 man in 12 .

Can delayed ejaculation be treated with drugs?

Impotence is more commonly known as erectile dysfunction: the inability to develop an erection hard enough to permit sexual intercourse. It can have a connection with low sex drive or lack of desire, and it may be associated with delayed ejaculation or premature ejaculation.

ED or erectile dysfunction is more common among older men. This is perhaps because of increasing levels of circulation problems, nerve problems, drug use (i.e. prescription drug use), age-related decrease in levels of testosterone, or a combination of these factors.

The classification of erectile dysfunction varies as does the degree of erection loss: from an erection that is not hard enough for sexual intercourse to an erection which permits penetration but then gradually loses hardness or is short-lived.

Nowadays, Viagra can produce a fairly quick erection, and a rapid boost to an impotent man’s self-esteem and sexual self-confidence. 

How does drug treatment for Erectile Dysfunction (ED) work?

The two corpora cavernosa which run along the length of the penis to the coronal ridge are made up of spongy tissue and smooth (unstriated) muscle. These muscle fibers are normally slightly tense and so regulate the blood flow into the expandable tissues.

When these muscles relax, blood is allowed to enter, whereupon the tissues swell, thereby squeezing the veins between the tunica albuginea and the corpora cavernosa. As the blood flowing in is now not able to drain away, the tissues swell and become harder and more rigid. It’s a complicated process and disruption to any aspect of the erectile mechanism causes the whole process to fail.

The various factors involved in impotence or erectile dysfunction

As we said before, a common cause of erectile dysfunction is a problem with either the veins or the arteries which feed the penis with blood and then drain it away. Arterial insufficiency or veno-occlusive disease both cause erectile dysfunction; but the ultimate cause of such problems is smoking, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and diabetes.

And neurological damage is a frequent cause of impotence; the release of essential components of the erectile mechanism, namely nitric oxide and prostaglandins from the tissues of the penis, can be inhibited by damage to the neural network – damage that can be caused by injury, surgery, multiple sclerosis and diabetic neuropathy .

Testosterone levels fall as the years go by, and a man will have fewer night-time erections and a lower sex drive. SSRIs, sedatives, anxiolytics, antihistamines, antidepressants and, antihypertensives are common medications which have been all been associated with erectile dysfunction.

Stress can induce erectile dysfunction by increasing blood catecholamine levels and causing smooth muscles to remain tense. And on an emotional level, fear of sex, or women, or pregnancy, or fear of sexual failure can all cause erectile dysfunction.

Pharmacologic agents and the treatment of ED

Of course the best answers are Viagra and other vasoactive agents which promote the accumulation of blood in the corpora cavernosa. The drugs which preceded Viagra were injected into the corpora cavernosa and tended to work within ten minutes. Viagra takes rather longer to work but is safer and more effective for the majority of men.

Psychological or physiological erectile dysfunction?

Emotional issues surround all cases of erectile dysfunction. How could they not? But when a case of erectile dysfunction has a purely emotional origin it can happen suddenly and without any previous experience or warning. In the case of erectile dysfunction with a physiological cause, the onset is more gradual. Tests for high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure can indicate the cause of erectile dysfunction in some cases.

What Treatment Is Available For Erectile Dysfunction?

What Treatment Is Available For Erectile Dysfunction?

During the time he had erectile dysfunction, a friend told me he and his girl decided they could get round the problem by spending a lot of time giving her oral sex so that she had plenty of orgasms.

In return she was happy to stimulate his penis with her mouth, which was very pleasurable even though he wasn’t erect – though it’s not the same as fellatio on an erect penis to orgasm, obviously, as my mate pointed out!

It is actually possible to reach orgasm with enough stimulation to the flaccid penis – and the sensations are pretty good! But….and it’s a big but….this is nothing like intercourse. And after a while, he said, it became all too clear that what she really wanted was intercourse with him inside her.  And he had erectile dysfunction. Oh dear.

Now I know that women regard sex as a very obvious statement of love. I’m not saying that sex can’t just be fun – it obviously can – buy I think as men we often forget how much sex can mean to a woman. In terms of love, that is. You see, from the days when little girls start playing at princesses, the underlying drive is to learn how to make a man fall in love with you. And of course the physical expression of that is making love, sexual intercourse. So where does that leave a woman if a man is impotent? Feeling unloved, I suspect. After all, the keystone of loving relationships between men and women is that sense of love, expressed physically.

Which is is no doubt why my friend’s erectile dysfunction caused him to feel both anxious and depressed, like a failure…. feelings that will be familiar to most men with erectile dysfunction. It’s just possible that if you don’t treat your erectile dysfunction your partner may seek sexual satisfaction with someone else. But if you and your partner don’t mind your erectile dysfunction, and you don’t think it’s affecting your relationship, then please don’t feel that you need to do anything about it!

In the much more likely event that you want to cure your erectile dysfunction, it, so you can enjoy a normal sex life again, the starting point for treatment should be a visit to your doctor who can assess you for any organic, physical causes such as hyperlipidemia, diabetes, or high blood pressure. The next step will be to engage in a course of self-help treatment (assuming you don’t want to see a professional sex therapist). For example, self help for erectile dysfunction.

In fact the treatment on this website consists of a series of enjoyable exercises which you will do with your partner, a relaxation program to relax you when you have sex and reduce your anxiety, and a series of techniques which will allow you to keep an erection once you have one, so that you need have no fear of losing it during sex. In addition, you may like to try Viagra, provided that your doctor has prescribed it and regards it as a useful adjunct to your treatment.

General notes about erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is very common. And hardly anything could be more troubling for a man than losing his erection, his ability to penetrate a woman in the act of lovemaking.

The loss of erection means he feels emasculated, much less of man, not able to show his potency – which naturally affects his partner as well, who may wonder if it is her lack of attractiveness which is putting him off sex. (And who will be frustrated by the lack of sex.)  Many cases of erectile dysfunction are due to emotional or psychological stress such as depression, anxiety, or relationship troubles. The penis is a good indicator of what is going on in a man’s mind, and if it flops unexpectedly, there could well be some significance to that fact.

How is erectile dysfunction treated?

Most doctors would like to see a combination of treatment approaches – lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, losing the excess pounds, and increasing one’s level of physical activity may be enough for a man to get his erection back. Of course, reducing any prescription or non-prescription drugs that may have a role in erectile dysfunction is necessary. 


A good approach to the treatment of erectile dysfunction which lies in psychological effects is to use any psychotherapy technique which reduces anxiety around sex, relationships or intimacy. A man’s partner can help with the treatment techniques of sensate focus, which involve gradually increasing levels of intimacy and sexual stimulation. These approaches are also useful when anxiety that arises from physically based erectile dysfunction is being treated.

Drug Therapy

Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil hydrochloride) and Cialis (tadalafil) have all been approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. They belong to a group of drugs called phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors, which work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide (the chemical that relaxes smooth muscles in the erectile mechanism of the penis), or rather preventing its breakdown, thereby allowing it to continue its effect of increasing blood flow.

The advised amount of Viagra as a starting dose is 50 mg, though 25 mg or 100 mg may be required. Levitra and Cialis start at 10 mg, and the doctor may adjust this dose to 20 mg or 5 mg as required.

None of these phosphodiesterase inhibitors is to be taken more than once a day and nitrate-based drugs such as nitroglycerin for heart problems can be seriously affected by them. Also, combining a phosphodiesterase inhibitor with an alpha-blocker may result in a drop in blood pressure.

Testosterone can effectively reduce erectile dysfunction in a large number of men with lowered levels of their own testosterone, and men have claimed that other oral drugs such as yohimbine hydrochloride, or the more esoteric dopamine and serotonin agonists are effective, but scientific evidence is lacking.

Vacuum Devices

Mechanical vacuum pumps induce an erection by producing a partial vacuum, the effect of which is to help suck blood into the penis, so it engorges and expands. These are not penis enlargement pumps, they are medical devices which include an elastic band, which, when fastened around the base of the penis, will ensure the erection is maintained when cylinder is removed, so that a man and his partner will be able to have sexual intercourse.

Alternatively, a stiff rubber sheath may be placed on the penis before it becomes erect and if left in place can help to enable penetration and intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction must be given full care by both the patient and his doctor, because it may be a sign of high cholesterol or diabetes. When a man has erectile dysfunction caused by high cholesterol, he is at considerable risk of a heart attack within two or three years.

This raises the question of treatment: how is erectile dysfunction best treated? The ideal way of approaching treatment is for a man with a loving partner to start by improving his physical health, eating a more balanced diet, taking more exercise and having all the test for low testosterone; then, for the man and his partner to work together on the exercises which will specifically address his erectile dysfunction.

You may want to consider Viagra if you are under the care and supervision of primary care physician. Viagra has very much short-circuited the treatments for erection problems, and this is especially true in the physical cases, where the cause is organic (i.e. in the body) in origin.

While Viagra may not be a complete cure, it can be a great asset in overcoming the problem – even for men whose problems are psychosomatic (e.g. in cases of performance anxiety, Viagra can help overcome this anxiety by providing a confidence boost).

Sleep Apnoea and Erectile Dysfunction

Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction

ED or erectile dysfunction can be associated with sleep apnea. Some new research indicates that erectile dysfunction associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) may be caused by chronic intermittent hypoxia-oxygen deprivation (CIH), an effect of sleep apnea that plagues men who have obstructive sleep apnea.

In an experiment designed to test this hypothesis, University of Louisville researchers discovered that after seven days of exposure to CIH which resembled that in a man with obstructive sleep apnea, male mice had a fifty per cent reduction in the number of spontaneous daily erections. And after thirty five days of exposure, the time it took male mice to mount a mate had increased by a factor of sixty times.

David Gozal, MD, professor at the University of Louisville, commented that it appeared even relatively short periods of CIH could have a major impact on sexual activity and the male’s ability to become erect. The research work looked at the effects on behavior and physiology of mice exposed to CIH for periods ranging from thirty five days to more than twenty weeks.

A group of control mice were not exposed to the same stimulation and did not experience CIH. The mice were all examined for changes in sexual behavior, as well as the number of erections they developed and how their mating behavior was affected. A number of physiological parameters such as testosterone and estradiol levels were examined, together with endothelial and neuronal nitric oxide synthase activity.

These compounds play an essential role in the mechanism of erection. These compounds are abbreviated to eNOS and nNOS; eNOS is a molecule whose levels are raised by Viagra, and it plays a major part of the male sexual physiology.

After only thirty five days’ exposure to CIH, the male mice took sixty times longer to mount their partners during sexual activity, but also experienced an increase in the time between becoming aroused and penetration of about forty fold.

The length of time between penetration and ejaculation was also affected, so much so that in five out of seven experimental mice, ejaculation did not take place, while in normal mice it took only a few minutes

Dr Gozal added that the variation in responses between mice mirrors the variation between men, who show very different responses to sleep apnea, and who clearly do not all experience the impact on erectile function to the same degree.

There were no significant changes in testosterone and estradiol levels in the experimental mice, although there was a decrease in eNOS expression in the mice which were subjected to CIH for fifty six days.

Even more interesting, after as little as one week’s exposure to sleep apnea, and a recovery period of forty two, the mice had only regained about three quarters of their original capacity for erections.

 This implies there is some permanent effect or that longer recovery time is required. In any even, the impact f sleep apnea on erectile function is severe, and it looks like a major cause of erectile dysfunction in men.

Given enough time, the effects of sleep apnea were reversible. Using a drug commonly prescribed for erectile dysfunction, tadalafil, which works by increasing the availability of nitric oxide through PDE5, the mice were restored to normal sexual and erectile functioning, so that the impact of CIH was almost completely reversed.

This applied to all aspects of sexual behavior, including time to mount, penetration and time to ejaculation as well as number of erections and spontaneous erections.

 The point here being that tadalafil affected both erectile physiology and mating behavior. This could indicate that PDE5 has a role in the central nervous system control of sexual behavior.

Dr Gozal indicates that more research is needed to elucidate the relationship between sexual behavior, sexual physiology and sleep disruption and episodes of hypoxia during sleep.

This is incredibly important for men with erectile dysfunction, because CIH is a very common occurrence in OSA.

In summary, though, erectile dysfunction appears to be yet another dysfunction associated with – and most likely caused by – obstructive sleep apnea. And even though this work was done on mice, chronic intermittent hypoxia has some very profound impacts on multiple organ systems, which make it extremely likely that the same effects apply to humans.

This means that early identification of the condition and application of some effective therapy for OSA is extremely important for regulating erectile dysfunction in men who suffer form both conditions.

This news was originally published in the Thoracic Society’s peer-reviewed journal, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.