At 30, Jewel Shupping decided to spray her eyes with a sealant liquid to satisfy her desire to go blind. On the other hand, Jennins-White is known to spend half of her life struggling to break free so that for her it is a heavy burden: her healthy legs.
Although at first glance these two cases seem isolated, the truth is that they are a disorder known as body identity disorder. Throughout this article, we will be talking about the characteristics of this disorder, as well as possible causes and existing treatments.
What is Body Integrity Identity Disorder?
Body Identity Disorder (BIID) is a psychiatric disorder in which the person suffering from it suffers from a compelling condition. need or desire to amputate healthy areas or limbs of your body.
Although it has traditionally been granted in the name of apotemnophilia, the reality is that Body Integrity Identity Disorder does not include any sexual component or motivation for which the person wishes to amputate any part of their body.
He must therefore establish a clear differentiation between the two concepts. While in apotemnophilia the person experiences sexual arousal or pleasure at the idea or image of one of their limbs being amputated, in bodily integrity identity disorder there is another type motivation.
More precisely, one of the main motivations of this type of patient is to have some kind of disability. But not for economic reasons, but for the simple attraction that pushes them to live in this state.
Another motivation is to achieve a certain physical appearance which these people particularly like. This motivation would be the extreme equivalent of what some people feel if they undergo any type of cosmetic surgery with the intention of changing a part of their body that is not attractive to them.
However, in bodily integrity identity disorder, people they feel that some parts of their body do not belong to themThey feel distant from them and this causes them great discomfort.
This disorder tends to appear at a very young age., During which children tend to imagine that they are missing or missing a part of their body.
Finally, this disorder can be confused with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). However, in the latter, the person experiences deep anguish at the appearance of a specific part of his body that he considers defective or unattractive, and although he feels the need to modify it, never considers that ‘it disappears completely.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of Body Integrity Identity Disorder are as follows.
Cognitive and emotional systems
In the symptoms of this disorder, which could materialize both in the desire to amputate a part of the body, and in the self-harm attempts that a person can induce for this purpose; people with bodily integrity identity disorder tend to behave or think in a certain way that characterizes them.
This symptomatology, mainly of a cognitive nature, it manifests itself in repetitive and intrusive irrational ideas in which the patient feels incomplete with his body as it is or, on the contrary, does not feel identified with certain parts of his body.
The intensity of these ideas can become such that they often become obsessions, which results in high levels of anxiety and bad mood. These thoughts, along with the anxiety symptoms, ease or go away after the amputation is complete.
Typically, patients they know very clearly which part of their body is to blame for their anxiety and they even go so far as to evoke a certain feeling of envy towards those who have an amputated limb.
People with bodily integrity identity disorder tend to experience high levels of loneliness and incomprehension about their needs. Aware that the rest of the population is incapable of understanding them, they often feel a great sense of shame, even of social self-exclusion. Finally, once their wishes are fulfilled, these patients never feel or identify as disabled, but rather they feel a sense of satisfaction and liberation behind letting what a burden meant to them wasted
Regarding behavioral symptomsPeople with Bodily Identity Disorder often engage in many self-injurious behaviors with the intention of having their leg amputated. These behaviors can range from being injured in your own home to being crushed or shooting a gun.
The goal of any of these behaviors is to inflict a series of injuries of sufficient severity for the injured limb to be amputated by medical professionals. However, they were also recorded cases in which the patient himself has attempted to amputate himself or to “break free” of a part of his body by them selves.
Also, although the area, limb, or part of the body that causes this aversion to the patient may vary from person to person, the most common request is to amputate the left leg through the upper knee or to amputate one of the two hands.
What causes this disorder?
The exact origin or causes of Body Integrity Identity Disorder are, at this time, unknown. however, there are several basic theories both psychological and neurobiological that they tried to give with the genesis of this disorder.
One of these theories raises the possibility that, during childhood, the child is so deeply marked by the image of a person with a limb amputation that he can adopt that image. as an ideal body archetype.
On the other hand, a second psychological theory is the hypothesis that, when faced with the feeling of lack of attention or affection, the child may come to think that by amputating one of his limbs, he will obtain this attention if necessary. .
As for the neurobiological theory, an injury or abnormality of the cerebral cortex associated with the limbs could explain the reason for this phenomenon. If so, Body Integrity Identity Disorder could be considered a type of somatoparaphrenia, which can appear after a spill or embolism in the parietal lobe.
Moreover, if this theory were true, it would explain the fact that this disorder has a higher incidence in men than in women; because in these, the right side of the parietal lobe is markedly smaller. It would also clarify that in most cases the amputee area is on the left side of the body.
Is there a treatment?
Since the symptoms of this disorder are primarily cognitive, cognitive behavioral treatment can be particularly effective with bodily identity disorder. However, the ideas of these patients are so deeply rooted that it is very complicated that the symptoms disappear only with psychological therapy.
In cases where the patient or his relatives choose to undergo psychological treatment, response prevention techniques and stop thinkingThey are generally the most effective.
The goal, in both cases, is for people with an identity or bodily integrity disorder to accept their body as it is, thereby eliminating the desire or need for an amputation.