Body integrity dysphoria

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Body integrity dysphoria
SynonymBody integrity identity disorder
SymptomsDesire to become disabled, discomfort with being able-bodied
Usual onset8-12 years old
Risk factorsKnowing an amputee as a child
TreatmentCognitive behavioral therapy, surgery

Body integrity dysphoria (BID, also referred to as body integrity identity disorder, amputee identity disorder and xenomelia, formerly called apotemnophilia) is a disorder characterized by a desire to be disabled or discomfort with being able-bodied beginning in early adolescence and resulting in harmful consequences.[1] BID appears to be related to somatoparaphrenia.[2] People with this condition may refer to themselves as "transabled".[3][4][5]


Apotemnophilia was first described in a 1977 article by psychologists Gregg Furth and John Money as primarily sexually oriented, in 1986 Money described a similar condition he called "acromotophile", namely sexual arousal over a partner's amputation. Publications before 2004 were generally case studies.[6] The condition received public attention in the late 1990s after a Scottish surgeon, Robert Smith, amputated limbs of two people who were desperate to have this done and were otherwise healthy.[6]

In 2004 Michael First published the first clinical research in which he surveyed 52 people with the condition, a quarter of whom have had an amputation. Based on that work, First coined the term "body integrity identity disorder" to express what he saw as more of an identity disorder than a paraphilia.[7] After First's work, efforts to study BID as a neurological condition looked for possible causes in the brains of people with BID using neuroimaging and other techniques.[2][6] Research provisionally found that people with BID were more likely to want removal of a left limb than right, in accordance with damage to the right parietal lobe; in addition, skin conductance response is significantly different above and below the line of desired amputation, and the line of desired amputation remains stable over time, with the desire often beginning in early childhood.[6] This work did not completely explain the condition, and psychosexual research has been ongoing as well.[6][8][9]


As of 2014 it remained unclear whether BID is a form of human diversity or a mental disorder, similar to the development of the concept of gender dysphoria. There was debate about including it in the DSM-5 and it was not included; it was also not included in the ICD-10.[2][7] It has been included in the ICD-11, which reached a stable version in June 2018, as 'Body integrity dysphoria' with code 6C21.[1] The ethics of surgically amputating the undesired limb of a person with BID are difficult and controversial.[10][11][12]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

BID is a rare, infrequently studied condition in which there is a mismatch between the mental body image and the physical body, characterized by an intense desire for amputation of a limb, usually a leg, or to become blind or deaf.[2] The person sometimes has a sense of sexual arousal connected with the desire for loss of a limb or sense.[2]

Some act out their desires, pretending they are amputees using prostheses and other tools to ease their desire to be one. Some people with BID have reported to the media or by interview over the telephone with researchers that they have resorted to self-amputation of a "superfluous" limb; for example, by allowing a train to run over it, or by damaging the limb so badly that surgeons will have to amputate it. However, the medical literature records few, if any, cases of actual self amputation.[10][13]

To the extent that generalizations can be made, people with BID appear to start to wish for amputation when they are young, between 8 and 12 years old, and often knew a person with an amputated limb when they are children; however, people with BID tend to seek treatment only when they are much older.[13] People with BID seem to be predominantly male, and while there is no evidence that sexual preference is relevant, there does seem to be a correlation with BID and a person having gender dysphoria or a paraphilia; there appears to be a weak correlation with personality disorders.[13] Family psychiatric history does not appear to be relevant, there does not appear to be any strong correlation with the site of the limb or limbs that the person wishes they did not have, nor with any past trauma to the undesired limb.[13]


As of 2014 the cause was not clear and was a subject of ongoing research.[7]


As of 2014 there were no formal diagnostic criteria.[2]


There is no evidence-based treatment for BID; there are reports of the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, and surgery to amputate the undesired limb.[13]


Outcomes of treated and untreated BID are not known; there are case reports that BID persisted even after amputation.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ICD-11 - Mortality and Morbidity Statistics". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Brugger, P; Lenggenhager, B (December 2014). "The bodily self and its disorders: neurological, psychological and social aspects". Current Opinion in Neurology. 27 (6): 644–52. doi:10.1097/WCO.0000000000000151. PMID 25333602.
  3. ^ Baril, Alexandre; Trevenen, Kathryn (14 April 2016). "Transabled women lost in translation? An introduction to: '"Extreme" transformations: (Re)Thinking solidarities among social movements through the case of voluntary disability acquisition'". Medicine Anthropology Theory. 3 (1): 136. doi:10.17157/mat.3.1.388. open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ Shad (11 June 2015). "Desiring disability: What does it mean to be transabled?". CBC Radio. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  5. ^ Davis, Jenny L. (1 June 2014). "Morality Work among the Transabled". Deviant Behavior. 35 (6): 433–455. doi:10.1080/01639625.2014.855103. ISSN 0163-9625. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e De Preester, H (May 2013). "Merleau-Ponty's sexual schema and the sexual component of body integrity identity disorder". Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy. 16 (2): 171–84. doi:10.1007/s11019-011-9367-3. PMID 22139385.
  7. ^ a b c Sedda, A; Bottini, G (2014). "Apotemnophilia, body integrity identity disorder or xenomelia? Psychiatric and neurologic etiologies face each other". Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 10: 1255–65. doi:10.2147/NDT.S53385. PMC 4094630. PMID 25045269.
  8. ^ Lawrence, A. A. (2006). "Clinical and theoretical parallels between desire for limb amputation and gender identity disorder". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 35 (3): 263–278. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9026-6. PMID 16799838.
  9. ^ Lawrence, A. A. (2009). "Erotic target location errors: An underappreciated paraphilic dimension". Journal of Sex Research. 46 (2–3): 194–215. doi:10.1080/00224490902747727. PMID 19308843.
  10. ^ a b Levy, Neil (2007). Neuroethics — Challenges for the 21st Century. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3–5. ISBN 0-521-68726-8.
  11. ^ Costandi, Mo (30 May 2012). "The science and ethics of voluntary amputation | Mo Costandi". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Dua, A (February 2010). "Apotemnophilia: ethical considerations of amputating a healthy limb". Journal of Medical Ethics. 36 (2): 75–8. doi:10.1136/jme.2009.031070. PMID 20133399.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Bou Khalil, R; Richa, S (December 2012). "Apotemnophilia or body integrity identity disorder: a case report review". The International Journal of Lower Extremity Wounds. 11 (4): 313–9. doi:10.1177/1534734612464714. PMID 23089967.

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