A Definition of Tumescence

Medical Definition of erotic impulse suppression syndrome (“Tumescence”): history of having the belief that erotic impulses are inherently bad, and that acting on them would lead to loss of affection or status or safety. Suppression of the erotic impulse is a protection mechanism, which over time also leads to at least one of the following behavioral/emotional symptoms:

  • Anorexia/deprivation: loss of desire for food and/or sex. No longer feels the erotic impulse.
  • Sublimation: redirection of the erotic impulse to acceptable activities, such as exercise or work or taking care of others. No longer considers this an erotic impulse, but rather a desire for these other activities.
  • Pendulum/erratic behavior: mania, aggression, conflict, alternating with bouts of control. Still recognizes the impulse but works hard to control it.
  • Overconsumption: can be food, drugs, shopping, porn, related or unrelated to the erotic impulse. The desire is to create a distraction from or numbing of the impulse.
  • Avoidance/Aversion: sense of disgust at stimuli that trigger the erotic impulse

It is also accompanied by additional symptoms, including but not limited to

  • Vaginismus
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Pain with no underlying biological cause
  • Stress
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased Immune Function

Suppression of the erotic impulse can be considered a form of internalized or culturally-induced trauma, in which a natural and powerful drive is considered dangerous, and disconnection-from-self ensues as a protection mechanism. Similar to other forms of trauma, these symptoms reflect the dysregulation of a nervous system trapped in a stress response. Biochemically, this is often associated with a dysregulated hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and imbalanced stress hormones. Physically, the body armors itself, generating chronic patterns of involuntary tension in the body that dampen or block emotional expression, alter perception of both the outer and the inner psychological world, diminish or eliminate kinesthetic awareness and other sensations, and resist range of motion and movement.