Body Integrity Identity Disorder, or BIID, is a psychological disorder in which an otherwise healthy person believes they are meant to be disabled. Often, the person suffering from BIID feels that one of their limbs does not belong to them, and they have an incessant need to amputate it in order to feel whole. As strange as that may sound, it’s not entirely unfounded. There have been roughly 300 or so documented cases of BIID. Yet, the scientific community is torn over the causes of the disorder as well as the ethical issues centered on treating patients. Some scholars believe that the rise in body dissociative cases began as soon as the international media started running stories about self-mutilation, and that most sufferers are intense hypochondriacs, or worse, that they’re looking for attention. But that doesn’t really speak to the stories on this list of people who either wanted to amputate a limb or disable themselves in some way. Most of the people reported that they felt a sense of freedom when they removed their legs or blinded themselves. Read on to find out more about this rare disorder, and leave us a comment about whether you think disabling oneself is a mental disability, a type of identity disorder, a cry for help, or something else.
Jewel Shuping, a woman from North Carolina wanted to be blind, so she asked a psychologist to help pour drain cleaner into her eyes. When interviewed about her blinding, she said, “I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth.” According to Naveed Saleh, MD, writing about the condition for Verywell Mind, "People with BIID complain of feeling 'overcomplete' and alienated from a body part be it an eye, limb or so forth. More specifically, these feelings are lifelong obsessions that result in considerable psychic suffering and trauma."
Anthony (a fictitious name) is a medical student who desperately wanted to be a high-level paraplegic, meaning that he wanted a complete lack of corporeal control and mobility, incontinence, and even the need for a ventilator to assist with respiration. He told one news outlet, "I often see myself as not getting injured but more the disability being as a result of some condition such as ALS or transverse myelitis, but in saying that, it is still more the end result that I desire."
Chloe Jennings-White is a Cambridge-educated research scientist who wanted to live her life as a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. In 2010, she found an overseas doctor who was willing to cut her sciatic and femoral nerves, but couldn't afford his fee.
"Jason" is a man who, after practicing on animal legs purchased from a butcher, staged an accident with a power tool in which he cut into his hand so badly that it couldn't be saved or reattached. In his interview with Modblog, he asserted that he did not want his identity known because his "accident" caused his family to raise money for his surgery, and he didn't want them to feel like they had been swindled. At the time, he said, "I’m one of those body-integrity-disorder (BIID) dudes. As long as I can remember, having two hands was a defect in my body — something that was not meant to be."