Jewish World Review August 16, 2004 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5764
Wanna feel complete? Amputate a limb
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.
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
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.
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© 2003, Ian Shoales