Body Integrity Identity Disorder

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Body integrity identity disorder, or BIID, is a psychological condition in which an individual actively pursues an elective amputation. Individuals with this condition experience the persistent desire to have their body physically match the idealized image they have of themselves.

A diagnosis of BIID is not an implication of psychosis. In fact, being diagnosed as psychotic excludes one from also being diagnosed with BIID. BIID has been most commonly compared to Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in that one common factor is that in both conditions, the individuals report that their feelings and urges have been present since their pre-adolescent years. The triggering event for this "disorder" appears to be the sight of an amputee at an early age. Many individuals can clearly recall the first amputee they saw resulting in a strong desire to have their own bodies modified in this way, and a sense of "recognition" of their unconscious desires. This may be as early in life as age 4 or 5.

Most individuals with BIID present a combination of the following symptoms:

  1. A feeling of "incompleteness" as a four limbed individual but a strong certainty that having an amputation would lead to feelings of "wholeness".
  2. A strong concept regarding the limb involved and the level of amputation desired.
  3. Feelings of intense jealousy at the sight of an amputee.
  4. Anxiety accompanying the desire for amputation the strong desire to hide these feelings and desires from others. Most individuals with BIID feel completely alone and do not believe anyone else can share these drives. Many may have sought psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety without ever informing the caregiver of their underlying desire.
  5. Repeated episodes of depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts.
  6. Rehearsal activity (pretending) during which they imitate the amputated state in private and in public.
  7. Feelings of isolation in that the individual believes that they are alone in the world with the desire to become an amputee.

Individuals with BIID who are unable to secure an amputation can become increasingly anxious and depressed, feeling that they can never become "complete". This can lead to increasingly dangerous behaviors such as self injury to achieve amputation by using guns to injure a limb beyond the medical community's capacity to save the limb, burning or deliberately infecting wounds in the hopes of "forcing" a doctor to perform the amputation.

A small number of hospitals are beginning to recognize BIID as a legitimate disease that is "curable" through amputation. However, the mainstream medical community tends to give these hospitals so much backlash after they perform such procedures that they are often forced to stop.

See Also