Imagine living your whole life in a body that feels wrong.
We’re all familiar with transgender individuals: those whose gender does not match their sex. I can only imagine the pain and frustration they go through. But Body Integrity Identity Disorder takes it one step further: it causes its sufferers to feel they should have been born as amputees, leading some to cut their own limbs off.
I came across the subject when I caught a showing of Armless, an indie comedy. At the time I thought it was a quirky idea for a film. I didn’t realize there were real people who felt this way.
Unlike people with gender concerns, the ethics involved in helping these patients are complex. The medical community tends to turn away when you ask that a perfectly healthy limb be chopped off. Patients are then left to their own devices to see the limb come off. Some sufferers “have used chain saws and homemade guillotines” to fix what they feel Nature messed up. Others try to mutilate a limb to the point that physicians have no choice but to remove it.
I’m not judging the people with the disorder. It’s the condition itself I find haunting. Imagine if the only way to feel whole was to cut part of yourself away.