Friday, 29 August 2008

Body identity integrity disorder (BIID) and the madness test

One of the “strangest stories” I have ever read is a firsthand account (from the Guardian) of someone who is not happy with their body – not because they are fat or anything – but because they want to hack off both their own legs:

To the general public, people like me are sick and strange, and that's where it ends. I think it is a question of fearing the unknown. I have something called body identity integrity disorder (BIID), where sufferers want to remove one or more healthy limbs.

Few people who haven't experienced it themselves can understand what I am going through. It is not a sexual thing, it is certainly not a fetish, and it is nothing to do with appearances. I simply cannot relate to myself with two legs: it isn't the "me" I want to be. I have long known that if I want to get on with my life I need to remove both legs. I have been trapped in the wrong body all this time and over the years I came to hate my physical self.

At first I thought it was a joke, and that someone was pulling the Guardian's leg so to speak, but apparently such a condition really does exist. Either that or she's got the hairiest, most disgusting legs ever! (well the Guardian doesn’t show a photo of them does it?)

But is she really crazy? After all, a hundred years’ ago, it was taboo to be gay in many societies, and 50 years’ ago the idea of transsexuals was abhorrent to most. And let’s face it anyway – there’s all sorts of other stuff that is just as crazy:

1. Working hard for 30 years as a corporate slave only to die of a heart attack aged 55. Was it really worth it?

2. Praying at the local “House of Worship” to the God you think exists even though there is no evidence whatsoever that prayer works.

3. As a vegetarian choosing not to eat meat because it’s cruel - but still buying all sorts of products made from animals including, of course, shoes.

4. Choosing not to fly even though you are far more likely to die in a road traffic accident.

5. Buying multitudes of handbags, tops, shoes and God knows what else even knowing you have absolutely no intention of ever actually using them (female specific)

6. Spending lots of money and giving affection to a cat even though that cat is indifferent about you, and only purrs at you because he wants a free meal!