The Body Integrity Identity Disorder: When People Seek to Sever Their Limb

The Body Integrity Identity Disorder: When People Seek to Sever Their Limb

  • A psychological disorder in which a healthy person feels that they are meant to be disabled.
  • People want to have a limb amputated, to be blinded, or to be disabled in some way.

It is one of the most complex disorders that a person has to deal with, and also one of the least understood. For most of us, being disabled would be a life-altering event that can lead to depression and a lower quality of life, at least for a time. However, there are those out there that have a psychological disorder in which a healthy person feels that they are meant to be disabled. They actually want to have a limb amputated, or to be blinded, or to be disabled in some way.

There are a number of reasons that a person would want to have their limbs amputated including for a sexual reason. The cause of BIID, as it is commonly known, centers on the fact that a person has a neurological failing of the inner mapping function of the brain, to incorporate the affected limb in its understanding of the physical form of the body.

How It Happens

Those who suffer from BIID are often uncomfortable with a part of their body, and that usually manifests itself as a limb. The person will feel that removing the limb will take away the uncomfortable aspect of their body. Before they remove the limb though, they may pretend that they are an amputee both in public and in private.

In an extreme situation, some of those who suffer from BIID will attempt to actually injure themselves in a way that will allow them to become an amputee. Sadly, many are also ashamed of their thoughts and they will hide them from others, including from therapists.

A short cut of the National Geographic’s documentary series Taboo about David Openshaw who suffers from BIID.

Who Gets It?

Those who suffer from BIID tend to be white males who are middle-aged. More often than not, above-the-knee amputation is the most commonly requested amputation and usually in the left leg. Some choose to have the arm amputated.

For those where there is a sexual nature to the amputation, this is called apotemnophilia. This is very different from the sexual arousal of someone else having an amputation. That being said, those who have apotemnophilia also get attracted to those who have a limb amputated themselves.

Who Does It?

This is not who does it in the sense of gets the amputation, but those who do the amputation for the patient. There is a great deal of ethical debate over this as to whether or not it is something that should be allowed as a physician is supposed to do no harm. The amputating of a limb that does not have to be amputated is rarely done because of these ethical concerns. While some support for patients with BIID who cannot have their impulses controlled with medication, most feel there should be more study in the disorder to deal with it from a psychological perspective instead.

Van Gogh, The Starry Night.
Throughout history, numerous artists have battled mental illness. The Starry Night is an oil on canvas by the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, who assaulted by voices, severed his left ear with a razor.

The problem is that if this is not treated, a person will sometimes deal with things themselves. There have been cases of a person allowing a train to drive over their leg, or for the person to do the amputation themselves, which can sadly lead to death.

A Woman Wants To Be Permanently Paralysed: Chloe Jennings

Looking at a person who has an extreme type of this condition, we look at Chloe Jennings from the United Kingdom. Since she was four she has wanted to be a disabled person, and wanted to wear leg braces like her aunt. At the age of nine, she caused an accident to stop her legs from working. She pedaled her bike off a four-foot high acting stage and landed on her neck, but did not permanent injury. She also downhill skies on the hope she will fall and hurt herself. She also uses a wheelchair even though she can walk. She wants to have her spinal cord cut so that her legs won’t work and a doctor has stated he will do it, but it will cost 16,000 Pounds.

Chloe Jennings, who suffers Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Chloe Jennings, who suffers Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Chloe Jennings, who suffers Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Chloe Jennings, who suffers Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Chloe Jennings, who suffers Body Integrity Identity Disorder
Chloe with her doctor, Dr Mark Malan who is helping her with her condition called Body Integrity Identity Disorder.

A graduate of Cambridge University, she is a regular person who has this very serious disorder that makes her want to disown her legs. She will pretend to be disabled when alone, and will climb trees in the hope of injuring her legs.

While some may ridicule or mock these people, this is a very serious condition where more study must be done. For the people who suffer from it, they deal daily with the feeling that their body has a piece that needs to be rejected and no amount of ignoring it will make it go away.

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