Most people, if asked what they might change about their bodies, would readily come up with something. Taller. Different hair. A perfectly flat abdomen. Maybe hide that scar earned from a tumble off a bicycle at the age of five. Have a conspicuous mole surgically removed.
There are individuals among us—a rare few—who would do more than remove a mole. They are desperate to amputate an arm or leg, maybe more. They are perfectly healthy, mind you, and there is nothing wrong with the appendages they want gone. These people suffer from something termed “Body Integrity Identity Disorder” (BIID), sometimes called Apotemnophilia.
People suffering from BIID are not mentally ill in any normal sense. Other than that one glaring outlier—wanting to slice off a part or parts of their body—they are wholly normal. Often, those afflicted with BIID cannot clearly express why they feel the urge to amputate. Some feel that the offending limb or limbs are not a part of them. They may know exactly the point at which the aberrant appendage must be severed. Recent studies have revealed that the condition may result from very specific connectivity problem within the brain.
On occasion, someone grappling with Body Integrity Identity Disorder will contact a doctor, pleading to have an arm or leg surgically removed.
Doctors don’t remove perfectly good appendages on a whim.
A few BIID sufferers will take on the matter of amputating arms and legs themselves. There are cases where people afflicted with the disorder used saws, firearms, freezing, even sprawling across train tracks in front of an oncoming train to remove their own body parts.
Oddly, those few that follow through and self-amputate are often much happier after the event. In their mind, they are whole for the first time in their life.