Jewish World Review August 16, 2004 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5764

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Wanna feel ‘complete’? Amputate a limb


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Barbara D. Phillips, in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal, in the course of column on makeovers, extreme makeovers, and plastic surgery, brought a new disorder to my attention: BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder. People who have this believe they need to amputate a limb in order to become complete.


Previously this disorder was called "Apotemnophilia," then Amputee Identity Disorder (or AID) and finally Body Integrity Identity Disorder. It is identified with Gender Identity Disorder, in which one feels that one is a man trapped in a woman's body, or vice versa. With BIID, the sufferer feels that he or she is an amputee trapped in a whole person's body. The sight of amputees makes BIID sufferers anxious.


There is not necessarily a sexual component to this. People who want to have sex with amputees are a whole different syndrome, apparently. There is a web site, by the way, called biid.org, which makes no judgments on those who wish to lop off an arm and a leg in the pursuit of self-esteem. In their FAQ section, they answer the question, "Is there any treatment for this condition," with "Anecdotally, patients undergoing surgery for this condition have had their symptoms resolved and no longer suffer with the desire, function better on a daily basis and have had an overall improvement in their lives. Their need of psychotherapeutic services usually ceases."


In other words, chopping off a limb, anecdotally, may lead to happiness for those unhappy few whose secret desire is to have a limb chopped off. Makes a certain kind of sense.


But then we all do all sorts of things to enhance our sense of self worth. Neckties, perfumes, hair dyes, really nice shoes, nose jobs, Botox, overpriced cars, contact lenses, sex changes — none of which make any sense at all from an Amish perspective, but then again, the Amish are making fashion choices of their own, are they not? I would venture to guess that there is a disorder called Amish Identification Disorder, in which sufferers have a compulsion to grow beards, wear black clothing, and drive buggies.

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Then there's "The Swan," the television program on Fox in which presumably ugly women undergo liposuction, plastic surgery, implants, bleaching, and other enhancements. At the end of the season, they will all compete in a beauty contest, in which the greatest transformation of ugly duckling to swan will be rewarded will be showered with riches, and the others…?


Well, I don't know. Maybe they'll have to lop off a finger, like a Yakuza who failed at his mission.


Don't laugh. You'll make lines.


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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.

Up

08/03/04: Stooged
07/27/04: Television: More real than ever
07/19/04: Therapy killed the video star
03/09/04: NASCAR Dad and other societal figments
03/01/04: In its efforts to disguise itself, has spam disappeared?
02/24/04: Hi! I'm Ted! Fly me!
02/12/04: It really is a Small World After All
02/04/04: PT, I hardly knew ye
01/29/04: Soylent green is cattle!
01/22/04: Shoales to PETA: Please SHUT UP!
12/23/03: McLattes
12/16/03: Pledge rock
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10/15/03: Subpoena as business model
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09/09/03: Dead, Live!
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08/12/03: Puffery
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07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2003, Ian Shoales