Those with the disorder, often males,
clearly are not psychotic or delusional. Yet this compulsion has led to
drastic actions: having a train run over a limb; placing a leg under a
car on a jack and releasing it; and attempts at self-amputation with
knives, table saws or chain saws.
Others try to persuade physicians to
surgically remove the limb. In 1997 Dr. Robert Smith in Scotland was so
moved by the unremitting suffering of his patient that he lopped off a
healthy, normal leg. Two years later he performed the identical
operation on another man. Dr. Smith is the only physician reported in
literature to have done this type of surgery. Most consider his actions
BIID individuals typically attempt to
force surgeons to amputate an extremity by first damaging it, such as
freezing a leg for hours in dry ice to cause severe tissue injury, or
crushing limbs with weights. This condition is completely unresponsive
to all forms of psychotherapy or medication. After the “offending part”
has been removed, mental tranquility is usually achieved.
Some believe this is a neurological
condition and point to the finding of what several patients report
after a parietal lobe stroke: Parts of their body suddenly feel alien. An article in the American Journal of Psychotherapy suggests that early imprinting, possibly from seeing an amputee, may be a cause. A study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that BIID is similar to gender identity disorder in which individuals feel they were born the wrong sex.
BIID has also been compared to its
reverse condition, phantom limb, in which a missing limb still feels
present. Whatever the cause, BIID is a baffling condition that causes
pain to those unfortunate individuals suffering with it.