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Identity disorder of the body integrity: symptoms, causes and treatment

Identity disorder of the body integrity: symptoms, causes and treatment

June 6, 2023

At 30 years old Jewel Shupping decided to spray her eyes with unblocking liquid to fulfill her desire to become blind. On the other hand, Jennins-White is known for having half a life struggling to get rid of what is a heavy burden for her: her healthy legs.

Although at first sight these seem like two isolated cases, the truth is that it is about a disorder known as identity disorder of bodily integrity . Throughout this article we will discuss the characteristics of this disorder, as well as its possible causes and the existing treatments.

  • Related article: "The 16 most common mental disorders"

What is the disorder of the identity of the corporal integrity?

Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) is a psychiatric disorder in which the person suffering from it suffers from an imperious need or desire to amputate some healthy areas or extremities of your body .

Although traditionally it has been granted in the name of apothemnofilia, the reality is that the identity disorder of the corporal integrity does not include any type of component or sexual motivation by which the person wants to amputate any area of ​​his body.

Therefore, it must establish a clear differentiation between both concepts. While in apothemnofilia the person feels excitement or sexual pleasure before the idea or the image of one of his amputated limbs, in the identity disorder of the corporal integrity there are other types of motivations.

Specifically, One of the main motivations of this type of patients is to have some type of disability . But not for economic reasons, but for the mere attraction that causes them to live in this state.

Another motivation is getting a certain physical aspect of particular pleasure for these people. This motivation would be the extreme equivalent to that felt by some people who undergo any type of cosmetic surgery with the intention of modifying some part of their body that is not attractive.

However, in the identity disorder of bodily integrity, people they experience the feeling that certain parts of their body do not belong to them They feel alien to them and this causes them great discomfort.

This disorder tends to manifest itself at very early ages , during which children tend to imagine that some part of their body is missing or disappears.

Finally, this disorder can be confused with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). However, in this last person the person experiences a deep anguish for the appearance of a specific part of their body which they consider defective or unattractive, and although they feel the imperious desire to modify it they never consider that it disappears completely.

What is the symptomatology?

The main symptoms of identity disorder of bodily integrity are the following.

Cognitive and emotional symptoms

Within the symptoms of this disorder, which could materialize both in the desire to amputate any part of the body, as in the attempts or self-injury that a person can provoke for this purpose; People with identity disorder of bodily integrity tend to behave or think in a certain way that characterizes them.

This symptomatology, mostly of a cognitive nature, manifested by repetitive and intrusive irrational ideas in which the patient feels incomplete with his body as he is or, on the other hand, does not feel identified with certain parts of his body.

The intensity of these ideas can become such that they often become obsessions, which result in high levels of anxiety and a low mood. These thoughts, as well as the anxious symptoms, are relieved or disappear once the amputation has been carried out.

As a rule, patients they are very clear about what part of their body is to blame for their anguish and they even refer a certain feeling of envy to those people who have an amputated limb.

People with identity disorder of bodily integrity tend to experience high levels of loneliness and feelings of incomprehension to their needs. Aware that the rest of the population is incapable of understanding them, they tend to feel a great sense of shame, even going so far as to exclude themselves socially. Finally, once their wishes have been made, these patients never feel or identify themselves as invalid, but rather they experience a feeling of satisfaction and liberation after having discarded what was a burden for them.

Behavioral symptoms

Regarding behavioral symptoms , people with identity disorder of bodily integrity often carry out numerous self-harm behaviors with the intention of having their legs amputated. These behaviors can range from being injured in your own home to being run over or shot with a gun.

The objective of any of these behaviors is to inflict a series of injuries of sufficient severity so that the damaged limb must be amputated by medical professionals. However, they have also registered cases in which the patient has tried to amputate himself or "free himself" of some part of his body on their own.

Also, although the area, limb or part of the body that causes this aversion in the patient can vary between person and person, the most common demand is to amputate the left leg by the upper part of the knee or amputate one of the two hands.

What causes this disorder?

The origin or exact causes of the identity disorder of bodily integrity are, for the moment, unknown. However, There are several basic theories, psychological as well as neurobiological who have tried to find the genesis of this disorder.

One of these theories raises the possibility that, during the infantile stage, the child is so deeply marked by the image of a person with an amputated limb that can adopt this image as an ideal body archetype .

On the other hand, a second psychological theory hypothesizes that, faced with the sensation of lack of attention or affection, the child may think that, by amputating one of its members, he will get this much-needed attention.

As for the neurobiological theory, an injury or abnormality in the cerebral cortex associated with the extremities Could explain the reason for this phenomenon. If so, identity disorder of bodily integrity could be considered as a type of somatoparaphrenia, which can appear after a stroke or embolism in the parietal lobe.

Furthermore, if this theory were true, it would explain the fact that this disorder has a higher incidence in men than in women; since in these, the right side of the parietal lobe is significantly smaller. As well as clarify that in most cases the area you want to amputate is on the left side of the body.

Is there a treatment?

Since the symptoms of this disorder are mainly cognitive, Cognitive behavioral treatment can be especially effective with identity disorder of bodily integrity. However, the ideas of these patients are so deeply rooted that it is very complicated that the symptoms remit only with psychological therapy.

In cases in which the patient or his family members choose to follow a psychological treatment, the techniques of prevention of response, as well as the stop of thought , are usually the ones that show greater effectiveness.

The objective, in any case, is that people with identity disorder of bodily integrity accept their bodies as they are, eliminating the desire or the need to undergo an amputation.

  • Perhaps you are interested: "Behavioral Cognitive Therapy: what is it and on what principles is it based?"

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