Body Integrity Identity Disorder: An Amputee’s Perspective

A reaction and analysis to the story of Jewel Shuping, an able-bodied woman in North Carolina who, with the help of her psychiatrist, poured drain cleaner in her eyes to achieve her life-long dream of being blind.

I try to keep a very open mind about these things. In the year 2015, there are things about the brain we still have yet to even begin to understand. Psychiatry is a relatively new study, in the grand scheme of things, and many types of mental disability and psychological condition are still largely a mystery to scientists and doctors.

2CF660B900000578-3256029-image-a-10_1443692650412That being said, when I stumbled across this story about a woman from North Carolina who had intentionally blinded herself due to a condition known as BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, my initial reaction was anger.

The human body is such a fragile thing. There are so many things that can go wrong, whether it’s during the initial process of cell division in the womb, or later on in a fully grown adult who has an accident, or develops some disease that contributes a necessary amputation, causes blindness/deafness, etc. There are just so many things that can happen either during the formative process before birth, DURING birth, or throughout the course of life, that can cause health problems, loss of function, or an untimely death. The idea of an able-bodied person just deciding that they no longer want that perfectly functioning hand, and would feel much better if it were to be cut off and thrown away, is instinctively offensive to someone like me.

And while the comparison to similar disorders like anorexia nervosa seems obvious (and is in fact backed up by psychologists, something I learned from reading this very thorough academic paper on the subject), and while its identification as a mental disorder should encourage us toward acceptance and understanding of such an action… here I am. Mad about it.

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t anger me. It doesn’t affect my life. What’s it got to do with me? This woman knew what she wanted and she went out and got it. Now she’s happier than ever. Good for her, I guess? Who am I to judge?

I’m really curious to hear other people’s thoughts on this. What do you guys think?