“Pee-Shy”: A Memoir by Dr. Frank Spinelli, Victim of Childhood Sex Abuse

Pee-Shy. We’ve heard the term—though not necessarily its clinical equivalent, paruresis.

The International Paruresis Association (IPA) provides the following info:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, recent studies show that about seven percent (7%) of the public, or 21 million people, may suffer from this social anxiety disorder. Often referred to as Pee-Shy, Shy-Bladder, Bashful Bladder, etc., avoidant paruresis is nothing to be ashamed of, and you have made an important step simply by coming to this website.

Indeed, go to the site and you’ll find various helpful resources.

Physician Frank Spinelli traces his own condition to his troubled and traumatic childhood. At the age of 11 Spinelli was molested by a Boy Scout leader, a guy who was also a respected cop in the community.

Below is a brief intro to his memoir, Pee-Shy, a book that began for him as a type of journalling therapy:

Publishers Weekly capsulizes the book in its review:

…(E)arly chapters document the daily life of a driven, lonely, extremely neurotic gay doctor in upscale Chelsea (Spinelli, an internist, is also the author of The Advocate Guide to Gay Men’s Health and Wellness). Yet Spinelli remains very much the child of working-class Italian parents, and as he begins his quest, and falls in love with a fellow doctor, his prose gains depth and grows less mannered. Spinelli deftly portrays his years as a chubby, awkward adolescent and the complexity of his reaction to the molestation. Spinelli’s refreshing honesty as a protagonist make this memoir an important testament to a reality that is too often concealed by shame or fear.

A synopsis and review by Angel Curtis (OutSmart) reveals further important details:

Once he told the truth about the abuse, every person in his life betrayed him—both the adults he trusted and the peers he depended on. This left him often depressed, sometimes distanced, and painfully pee-shy. After he had become a doctor living in Manhattan, Spinelli was told his abuser had died. Seeking closure, he went online to find the obituary. What he found was not only that his abuser was still alive, but that he had written a book detailing his adoption of 15 boys. Pee-Shy details Spinelli’s work to make sure his abuser was charged, convicted, and sent to prison. This is a beautiful story, well told, that I hope will give abuse victims some comfort that, even after many years, justice can still happen.

Adds Adrian Brooks, Lambda Literary, about this important memoir: “It’s part therapy, part rescue mission, for, as he confronts his past, old guilts are exposed and his relationship with his partner undergoes strain as he faces his demons and grapples with his need to heal.”

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