In ancient civilizations, removal of the human penis was sometimes used as a means of demonstrating superiority: armies were sometimes known to sever the penises of their enemies to count the dead, as well as for trophies, although usually only the foreskins were taken. The practice of castration (removal of the testicles) sometimes also involves the removal of all or part of the penis, generally with a tube inserted to keep the urethra open for urination. Castration has been used to create a class of servants or slaves (and especially harem-keepers) called eunuchs (Greek Ευνούχοι) in many different places and eras.
In the modern era, removal of the human penis is very rare (with some exceptions listed below), and references to removal of the penis are almost always symbolic. Castration is not so rare, and is performed as a last-ditch method of treatment of androgen sensitive prostate cancer.
The missing penis in Egyptian myth
Osiris was killed by his brother Set, torn to pieces, with the penis disposed of in the Nile. Osiris's wife, Isis, with the assistance of Thoth, was able to return Osiris to life, but was unable to recover the penis, so she replaced it with an artificial penis made of gold. Through it, she conceived Horus.
Human penis removal in medicine and psychology
Some men have penile amputations, known as penectomies, for medical reasons. Cancer, for example, sometimes necessitates removal of all or part of the penis. In some instances, botched childhood circumcisions have also resulted in full or partial penectomies.
Genital surgical procedures for transwomen (transgendered or transsexual women) undergoing sex reassignment surgery, do not usually involve the complete removal of the penis; part or all of the glans is usually kept and reshaped as a clitoris, and the skin of the penile shaft may also be inverted to form the vagina. When procedures such as this are not possible, other procedures such as colovaginoplasty are used which do involve the removal of the penis.
Issues related to the removal of the penis appear in psychology, for example in the condition known as castration anxiety. Others, who associate the organ with rape and male dominance and aggression, may consciously or subconsciously see the organ (their own or those of others) as a weapon and express a hatred for it, potentially desiring to see it violently removed.
Some men have undergone penectomies as a voluntary body modification, but professional opinion is divided  regarding the desire for penile amputation as a pathology, thus including it as part of a body dysmorphic disorder. Voluntary subincision, removal of the glans penis, and bifurcation of the penis are related topics.
Involuntary penis removal (assault)
There have been incidents in which men have been assaulted, usually by their sexual partners, by having their penises severed. Lorena Bobbitt, for example, was popularly known for cutting off the penis of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, out of rage after he allegedly raped her, though he claimed it was for revenge when she discovered his infidelity. Bobbitt's penis was successfully reattached, and he later had a brief career in pornographic movies.
This was not the first modern case, however. On 18 May 1936, Sada Abe (also known as Abe Sada) strangled her lover (believed to be at his request, he wanted to die while having sex) Kichizo Ishida (Ishida Kichizo) and cut off his penis, placed it in her kimono and carried it around with her for days before eventually turning it over to the police. She spent a very brief time in jail, and was granted amnesty in 1940. The penis was last seen at a department store exhibition in 1949. This episode was the basis of the film In the Realm of the Senses.
Mutilation or forcible removal of the penis has special symbolic significance. As a symbol of male sexuality, fertility, masculinity, and, some feel, male aggression, the removal of the penis may be inspired by a desire to emasculate, and sometimes results in the emasculation of, the victim. Another motive, particularly in cases of spousal assault, is sexual.
The following are documented cases of men having their penises severed due to accident, spousal jealousy or self infliction (intentional or not):
- The penis of Napoleon was reportedly severed at his autopsy, and purloined: it was some years later sold to a urologist for $3,000.
- Grigori Rasputin's penis was severed in the assassination that ended his life on December 16, 1916 (O.S.): it was reported rescued, kept in a wooden box and much cherished by his daughter, Maria. It has reportedly been on display in various locations.
- The first documented case of a completely successful penis replantation, restoring full function, was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital by a team led by Dr. Hugh H. Young II, with fellow urologist Dr. John F.S. Daly and plastic surgeons Dr. Benjamin E. Cohen and Dr. James W. May. The case is documented in the February 1977 issue of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
- In 1966, six-month old David Reimer's penis was destroyed during a botched circumcision using an electrocautery device. He was re-assigned as a girl. As a teenager, he underwent genital reconstructive surgery to restore his male organ. Years later, David committed suicide.
- In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt cut off the penis of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt with a kitchen knife. It was surgically re-attached, and he subsequently became a porn star. She was found not liable and was sentenced to 45 days hospitalization.
- Earl Zea was prosecuted for filing a police report in 1997 that his penis was removed in an assault while asleep, only later admitting that it had been a self-inflicted move to deter a gay male stalker named Ronnie Fountain. Zea flushed his penis down the toilet. Both Zea and Fountain appeared on The Jerry Springer Show episode titled "I Cut Off My Manhood." Zea told Springer that he had reconstructive surgery after his penis could not be found. Fountain insisted that he and Zea had indeed had a sexual relationship, which Zea denied.
- In March 2001, in the town of Rotenburg, central Germany, cannibal Armin Meiwes, cut off and flambéed a man's penis, with his consent, and the two men ate it together. The other man, Bernd Jürgen Brandes was then killed by Meiwes, also with his consent. The song "Mein Teil" by Rammstein was inspired by the case.
- In January 2002, In Russia, Pavel Morozov, a player of Spartak football for disabled people, was murdered by his friend's girlfriend because he did not want to have sex with her. The friend invited Pavel over to his house to drink vodka with him and his girlfriend. The girlfriend made advances towards Pavel but as he did not reciprocate them she became upset and started hitting him and screaming. Pavel's friend came over to see what was going on. He might have started hitting Pavel as well. Pavel ended up unconscious on the floor. The girlfriend then unzipped Pavel's pants and cut off his penis. She then stabbed him in the chest. Pavel's body was then thrown out in the street. The other two continued drinking. They were arrested the next morning.
- In 2004, in Kassel, Germany, a 50-year-old woman severed the penis of her Ghanaian ex-husband but died as a result of wounds inflicted by the same knife. The man's organ was later retrieved from the same room in which she died, though it is unknown whether it was re-attached or not. Fortean Times later reported that the court was told that the man had severed his own penis before attacking his ex-wife.
- In October 2004, Dr. Naum Ciomu chopped patient Nelu Radonescu's penis into small pieces in a fit of anger during routine surgery for a testicular malformation. He was ultimately found guilty of grievous bodily harm, fined and received a 1 year suspended jail sentence for the attack. The victim ultimately had reconstructive surgery using tissue from his arm.
- On November 2004, Manit Srithammathan cut off two teenage boys' penises and threw them in a canal. When the police questioned Srithammathan, he said he had cut off and disposed of their penises because the boys refused to confess to stealing $1,250 from his ATM account after they were shown videotape evidence of their theft.
- On July 23 2005, Delmy Ruiz, 49, was found guilty of aggravated assault after she had severed Rene Aramando Nuñez' penis with a knife. Ruiz said he had abused her earlier, but it was believed that she was really just jealous because he was seeing someone else. She lured him over to the house to talk about documents concerning the house that they owned together. He fell asleep while at the house. That is when she cut off his penis. The jury had been shown graphic photos of Nuñez' wounded crotch where more than 80% of his penis was completely removed save for a small stump. The penis was never recovered as it had been removed from the scene by her dog. Ruiz was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined $10,000.
- On 20 September 2005, the first successful penis transplant was begun in a military hospital in Guangzhou, China. A man at 44 sustained an injury that severed his penis in an accident. Despite atrophy of blood vessels and nerves after a protracted period of time had elapsed, the arteries, veins, nerves and the corpora spongiosa were successfully matched. After seven hours' surgery, the penis regained its function and even managed to attain erection. The extent to which the penis' function was restored and occurrence of rejection or infection remain to be seen.
- On April 22 2007, a man cut off his penis with a knife in a packed London restaurant.
- In 2007, Li Gengbao's penis was cut off by his wife when she found out he was cheating on her. After hearing Li Gengbao plead for his penis back, the wife threw it out the window where the neighbor's dog ate it.
- ^ See an example of this in the story of David's courtship of Saul's daughter in 1 Samuel 18:25-27; Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king's enemies.’”
- ^ Loblaw, DA; Mendelson DS, Talcott JA, Virgo KS, et al. (2004-07-15). "American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations for the initial hormonal management of androgen-sensitive metastatic, recurrent, or progressive prostate cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. PMID 15184404. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ Terris, Martha K; Audrey Rhee, et al. (2006-08-01). Prostate Cancer: Metastatic and Advanced Disease. eMedicine. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ Myers, Charles E (2006-08-24). Androgen Resistance, Part 1. Prostate Cancer Research Institute. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ What happened to Napoleon's penis?
- ^ Colapinto, John. "Gender Gap: What were the real reasons behind David Reimer's suicide?", slate.com, 2004-06-03. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ Police report filed by Earl Zea
- ^ "German cannibal tells of fantasy", BBC News, 2003-03-13. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ a b "A girl cut one-legged football player's penis off", Pravda (English), 2002-01-08. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ "Ghanaian loses manhood and kills culprit", Diasporian News, 2004-06-09. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ Angry surgeon chops off manhood AOL Lifestyle
- ^ Doctor Naum Ciomu Is Convicted RoPortal
- ^ Man cuts off thieving teens' penises. Retrieved on 2007-10-04.
- ^ "US woman jailed for severing ex's penis", breakingnews.ie, 2005-07-26. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ "世界首例异体阴茎移植成功 40岁患者数周后出院", southcn.com (Chinese), 2005-09-22. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.
- ^ "Man cuts off penis in restaurant", BBC News, 2007-04-24. Retrieved on 2007-04-27.
- ^ Wife cut off hubby's manhood. Ananova. Retrieved on 2007-10-04.