Similar to the phantom limb syndrome, the sensation of a 'phantom penis' in post-operative heterosexual and transsexual men is providing insights into the how gender-specific body images are hard-wired at birth.Now that you mention it, yes. I've blogged about this phenomenon in my case before. Not that I had a "phantom" anything, just that my body image lacked external genitalia. Which led to some unfortunate and extremely painful incidents when young.
Experts at the University of California in San Diego, USA, found that 60 per cent of interviewed heterosexual men who had their genitals surgically removed following cancer claimed to continue to experience the sensation of having a penis.
Intriguingly, the same study showed that only 30 per cent of originally male transsexuals, whose genitals had been removed as part of gender reassignment, reported the same phenomenon.
"We explain the absence or presence of phantoms in these subjects by postulating a hardwired gender-specific body image in the brain that does not match the external [birth] gender" said lead author and phantom limb expert Vilayanur Ramachandran. He argues that before birth the brain may develop an image of the body that may not necessarily match the physiological outcome.
Another piece of the puzzle.