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BIID, a deep desire for a form of disability

By November 17, 2015No Comments
Jewel, a woman blinded by choice. 

Over a space of a few months, a psychiatrist poured drain fluid into a woman’s eyes, eventually leading to what the young woman had always wanted, to be blind. Usually when one loses their cherished eyesight, it comes as a difficult blow but not for Jewel Shuping who from a very young age had always dreamed of being blind. She spent her childhood years staring into the sun, started using a cane by the age of 18 and learnt Braille by the time she was 20 years old.

The serious and rare psychological disorder, Body integrity identity disorder, happens in otherwise healthy individuals with a strong desire for an amputation or another form of a disability, such as blindness or paralysis. The individual feels as though they are meant to have a disability and their body part, such as a limb or their eyes, are not meant to be a part of them.

Sufferers sometimes go to extreme and dangerous measures in the desperate hope to injure their ‘alien’ body part so badly there is no other choice but to remove it or they become paralyzed. They might use a gun or chainsaw, put their limb in dry ice, lie on train tracks and wait for a train to run over their legs or they might fling themselves from a hight in the hope of damaging their spine so severely they become paralyzed. 

Karl (not his real name), who had suffered from BIID since a child, chose the dry ice method, packing both his legs into a bucket full of below freezing dry ice and after 6 hours got himself to the emergency room. The tissue was beyond repair and within a few months, much to Karl’s delight, his legs were amputated. 

Chloe, a BIID ‘pretender’ who longs to be paralysed. 

BIID sufferers are sometimes so intensely jealous of individuals with the form of disability they long for. ‘Pretenders’, as they are referred to in the BIID community, pretend they have the disability they want, either in private or public, such as Chloe Jennings-White who spends most of her time in a wheelchair pretending to be a paraplegic. ‘Wannabes’ are all those who have this disorder, who so desperately want to be rid of their ‘alien’ body part, and some go on to become ‘successful wannabes’. There is also another group of people who are referred to as ‘devotees’ and these individuals are mainly attracted to people with amputations and other forms of disabilities.

This complex and mysterious condition is called Body integrity identity disorder, as it refers to the strong desire to alter their body integrity and identity. The individual’s physical body does not match the idea of their physical form.

The cause of BIID remains unknown but there are two main theories that try to explain why the disorder occurs. One puts the blame on the brain that is not able to provide the true plan of the body, and the brain then sees the ‘alien’ body part as not actually being a part of the person. The individual then has the strong desire to be rid of the body part. The other theory is a psychological one, the BIID sufferer, at a young age, may have seen an individual such as an amputee, a paraplegic or a person with another form of a disability, and ever since began to have thoughts that is what makes the ideal person.

A misunderstood and often judged condition, it usually leaves its sufferers feeling alone and confused and only sure of one thing, they feel that they are not in their true human form and are desperate to be in the body they were meant to be.