Body Integrity Identity Disorder

Body Integrity Identity Disorder is a newly re-diagnosed, neuro-psychological condition in which the patient feels the need to remove or severely damage an appendage or limb in order to feel "whole and complete." First diagnosed in 1785 by the French surgeon and anatomist Jean-Joseph Sue, it was believed to be strictly a psychological disorder. Sue wrote of a man who fell in love with a one legged woman and wished to be like her. This classification as a psychological disease would be later reaffirmed by neuropsychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing with an additional three cases involving patients with lustful desires and amputations. This diagnoses would go unchallenged by the medical community until the late 1970's. After an article in Penthouse Magazine involving BIID, the disorder began slowly gaining the attention of the populus and would finally reach the medical community by the early 2000's.

Jean-Joseph Sue examining an amputated leg in the first recorded account of BIID

To date, there are only about 300 recorded cases of BIID which makes studies and theories about the disorder very difficult, however the recorded cases all show a strong correlation in both symptoms and most recently, physiology. In studies conducted by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, using previous studies by Paul Schilder, it is now believed that BIID is in fact a neurological disorder effecting both the PNS and CNS. Within studies, it was observed that BIID sufferers had a slightly underdeveloped parietal lobe which is believed to be where a person's body image is processed. In other studies it was noted that BIID patients' brain did not react normally when given stimuli to the area they believed should be removed. The study revealed that when touched, the area responded in the somatosensory cortex, which is normal, however it was not processed in the superior parietal lobe- showing an immediate disconnect between real, physical stimulus and how the body observed it. This disconnection between the somatosensory cortex and the parietal lobe is the only concrete fact observed with the disorder.

The cause of BIID is also unknown. While many believe that because of its neurological nature, it is a genetic trait, however because it is only recently being studied it is not clear. Other professionals believe it may be caused by trauma to the parietal lobe. In accordance to other case involving damage to the parietal lobe, patients are noted as having a distorted self-body image; yet not anywhere as close to those of BIID. BIID itself is not fatal, however actions such as self amputation can cause infection and loss of blood which may lead to death. In most cases, symptoms are very mild and limited to only the yearning of an appendage or limb to be removed. Some speculate depression may be a possible side effect of the disorder, but patients argue it is only because they are not allowed to remove their limb surgically. Luckily there are no cognitive issues associated with BIID.

In many cases BIID sufferers will try their own form of amputation.

Currently there is no cure for BIID. Medications used for ADHD, depression, and OCD are often prescribed to BIID patients to allow them to focus on things other than their existing limbs and to curve the need for amputation. Results on the medication are mixed with some patients actually having worsening symptoms. Therapy and counceling is also widely used by BIID sufferers. In part with the depression sometimes associated with it, counceling offers patients a time to express how they really feel and receive emotional support. Because of the gruesome nature of the disorder, society is often quick to judge those copping with BIID. However, other social groups such as the "modify" subculture (individuals who modify their own bodies in unique ways such as piercing, branding, scarification, and amputation) gladly welcome BIID patients with open arms (unless they too are amputated, then open nubs)

The future of BIID is greatly unknown. Because of the small percentage of those diagnosed with it, it is not consider a priority by the medical community. Very few achievements have been made within its studies. Currently, it is becoming more of a social issue and less of a medical one. With some states placing restrictions on what a person can and cannot do medically to their bodies, BIID is now being used as a platform for 1st Amendment right. Socially it is viewed negatively by most, but as society advances and its mores become more liberal, it is possible that BIID, as well as other amputations may be as common as a tattoo or a piercing.


(A really good movie for insight to those who have similar views as those with BIID. Kind of graphic, but on Netflix.),

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