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Parcopresis is a psychological disorder, more accurately termed psychogenic fecal retention, whereby the sufferer is unable to defecate unless they have a certain level of privacy. The level of privacy involved varies from sufferer to sufferer. The condition has also been termed shy bowel.
The condition is to be distinguished from the embarrassment that many people experience with defecation in that it produces a physical inability, albeit of psychological origin.
The term Shy Bowel was created in 2003 by Baz Chalabi, with the help of Steve Soifer (author of "Shy bladder Syndrome - Your step by step guide to recovery"). Previous to this, no specific name had existed for the condition, and it had only been referred to under the more general term of Toilet Phobia. Toilet Phobia refers to any anxiety disorder involving using toilets and includes: fear of contamination, specific object phobias such as black toilet seat phobia, Paruresis (Shy Bladder Syndrome), and Toilet Proximity Anxiety Disorder. Baz Chalabi also created the medical term, Parcopresis in 2003, with the help of Professor Alex Gardner.
Nature of the condition
Parcopresis can be described as “an inability to defecate when other people are perceived or likely to be around (e.g. in the same public toilet, house or building).” This inability limits the sufferer to being able to defecate only in a limited number of ‘safe’ places thus restricting their lifestyle. The level of restriction varies depending on the severity of each sufferer’s condition but in extreme cases it can force people to give up their jobs, avoid holidays they would love to take, and generally dictate and limit most aspects of their lives.
It affects both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds. It is not clear how many people suffer with the condition, and level of severity is a key factor as some people may not find it affects their lives, while others find their lives are dictated by its demands.
One form of treatment is Cognitive behavioral therapy which promotes desensitization methods.
- Barros, Regis (December 2011). "Paruresis and Parcopresis in Social Phobia". Brasilian Journal of Psychiatry 33 (4): 416–417.
- "Shit Doesn't Happen - Lifting the lid on Shy Bowel" by Baz Chalabi
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