Phenomenological and existential contributions to the study of erectile dysfunction

Chris A. Suijker*, Corijn van Mazijk, Fred A. Keijzer, Boaz Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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The current medical approach to erectile dysfunction (ED) consists of physiological, psychological and social components. This paper proposes an additional framework for thinking about ED based on phenomenology, by focusing on the theory of sexual projection. This framework will be complementary to the current medical approach to ED. Our phenomenological analysis of ED provides philosophical depth and illuminates overlooked aspects in the study of ED. Mainly by appealing to Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, we suggest considering an additional etiology of ED in terms of a weakening of a function of sexual projection. We argue that sexual projection can be problematized through cognitive interferences, changes in the ‘intentional arc’, and modifications in the subject’s ‘body schema’. Our approach further highlights the importance of considering the ‘existential situation’ of patients with ED. We close by reflecting briefly on some of the implications of this phenomenological framework for diagnosis and treatment of ED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-608
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021


  • Body schema
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Existentialism
  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Perception
  • Phenomenology

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