How not to communicate a scientific discovery

G. S. Brindley made one of the most important contributions to the treatment of erectile dysfunction. He discovered that injecting papaverine into the penis causes an erection. He announced this discovery — in a rather unique way — in 1983 at a meeting of the Urodynamics Society. Laurence Klotz was at that talk and described Brindley’s eccentric (and to some audience members, horrifying) presentation in a paper published in 2005. Here is an extended excerpt from that paper:

In 1983, at the Urodynamics Society meeting in Las Vegas, Professor G.S. Brindley first announced to the world his experiments on self-injection with papaverine to induce a penile erection. This was the first time that an effective medical therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED) was described, and was a historic development in the management of ED. The way in which this information was first reported was completely unique and memorable, and provides an interesting context for the development of therapies for ED….
The lecture was given in a large auditorium, with a raised lectern separated by some stairs from the seats….
Professor Brindley, still in his blue track suit, was introduced as a psychiatrist with broad research interests. He began his lecture without aplomb…. His slide-based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine….
The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible…. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection….
At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing…..
He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly….
The screams seemed to shock Professor Brindley, who rapidly pulled up his trousers, returned to the podium, and terminated the lecture.

Figure 1. What Professor Brindley’s clothed erection may have looked like at his 1983 talk.

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Klotz, L. (2005), How (not) to communicate new scientific information: a memoir of the famous brindley lecture. BJU International, 96, 956–957.  doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2005.05797.x

Note: A pdf of the paper can be found at:


Co-Self-Dependent No More: Ending the Nightmare of Self-Enmeshment

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, and I’m starting to think that maybe I’m not the best person for me. I’m beginning to realize that I don’t bring out the best in myself, and that probably I stay with myself mostly out of habit. No, that’s not it. It’s like an addiction: you know that it’s really going to be bad for you over the long-term but that, just for this moment in time, you’re going to give in to the cravings; knowing deep down that it won’t be just for this moment–that it won’t stop until you’re dry-heaving in the back of an old station wagon with faux wood paneling, hating yourself for allowing yourself into your life and letting it happen all over again.


So then you go cold-turkey for a while, promising yourself that it’s never going to happen ever again: that you’re never going to be you again. But the cravings are there–those God-damned cravings–and they build and build until it gets so bad that you eventually end up right back where you started: getting together with yourself, “just for tonight,” and starting that roller-coaster ride all over again. Doing it again and again until you can’t stand the sight of yourself in the mirror anymore. And the crazy thing is that you know … YOU KNOW! … just before you open that door and invite yourself back into your own life, how it’s all going to end: the same way it’s ended a 1000 times before. But you open that damned door anyway!

My relationship with myself has always been a wild, up-and-down roller-coaster ride. Sometimes it’s really great: I’m a lot of fun to be with, I’m feelin’ really close to myself–the bond is there and it’s really strong. It’s no effort at all to be with myself, to get along, and just to feel comfortable being me with myself–no judgments and no expectations. Hell, at those times, I feel such a strong connection with myself that I even find myself finishing my own sentences; and just, you know, really, really understanding where I’m coming from. At those times, I feel as if I’ve known myself my whole life–like I’ve grown up with myself, sleeping in the same crib, playing with the same friends, going to the same schools, even lusting after the same people … you know, experiencing everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, together. It’s such a high to feel this way–to be understood so well by yourself. Nothing’s hard, nothing’s difficult. And, at those times, I just couldn’t imagine ever being without myself.

But then it starts. I do something a little stupid and get annoyed with myself. It’s just a minor thing, a little irritation; but I feel hurt and betrayed anyway, and just so very upset that I could treat myself that way, after all I’ve been through with myself! I know that I’m over-reacting at those times but I can’t help it! After the great times, it’s such a shock to see myself treating myself this way. So, I start to distance myself, more and more, until eventually It turns into a big fight, and I refuse to even think to myself for a few days.


But of course, that doesn’t continue for long. Eventually I start to think again. And, over all the years I’ve been together with myself, my life has become so intertwined with my life that it seems impossible to even imagine living apart from myself. When I think those thoughts, it seems just too damned difficult to take that final step and break it off for good! You know, I really hate to admit it but, at those times, I feel like I’m nothing without myself and that I’ll never be anything unless I’m always in my life. (God, it was so hard to write that sentence, and it’s even harder to reread it now. Give me a minute, will you?)

It’s my own fault that I think this way, I know. I’ve let myself believe what I tell myself is true. When I believe that something is true, I can’t bring myself to disagree with myself, or at least to question whether or not it’s possibly, just possibly, not true. It’s like I have this mysterious power over myself–a power that I can’t describe but that I’ve never been able to resist. I know that none of what I’m thinking–you know, that “I can’t survive unless I’m in my life,” that “I’ll die if I leave myself,” all that crap that I’ve been telling myself for years–I know that none of it is true! But, just when I’m at a place where I can begin to question it, all of a sudden I’m there, and all my rational thinking flies out the window. I tell myself that I’m crazy, that it IS true that I can’t live without myself, and I’m stuck again!

Hell, it makes me disgusted with myself just to admit it, but I find that I can’t even go to the bathroom without myself!! Now how sick of a relationship is that??? So, I pretend like none of the bad stuff ever happened, that I’m really a great guy, that everything is going to turn out all right, that I never really meant to hurt myself that way. In short, I forgive myself despite the years of betrayals and all the hurt I’ve caused myself.

You know what’s nuts? Underneath it all, when all is said and done, I KNOW that I’m just using myself, that all I’m doing is using myself to get my own needs met. But I let it happen anyway. Why? Well, because … because it’s just so easy to say “yes” to myself. I’m completely, utterly, under my own control, it seems. I have absolutely no boundaries with myself! I just come waltzing right back into my life as though nothing’s happened! I hate myself for loving myself so much, because I know that it’s not a real love–a healthy love!! It’s a toxic, sick, disgusting “love”–a love where I let myself use myself to satisfy my own needs.

And when I let myself back into my life, I know that it’s all going to start and end just like it has so many times before; and that it will do so again, and again, and …. well you know. You’ve been there, too.

But I think that I’m finally through with it! Today, no matter what I did in the past, I’m going to take charge of my own life and never let me back into my life again! EVER!! I know that I’m bad for myself, that I keep myself down, that I’ll never grow as a person as long as I keep letting myself back into my own life. So, I’ve decided that, starting from this point on, I’m making this unbreakable commitment to myself. I’m telling everyone I know so that I will never go back on it.

I will never, ever again allow myself to be me!!