Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), or the apotemnophilia syndrome is a rare condition that causes people to feel disconnected with their limbs or body parts, creating a desire to amputate or shut off body parts.
The word “apotemnophilia” stems from the 3 greek words “apo” (away from), “temno” (piece cut off) and “philia” (love) which assemble into the meaning of this syndrome — love of amputation.
People suffering from BIID would purposely go blind or even amputate their perfectly normal leg. In this article, you’ll find out more about the psychology and neurology behind this condition.
There has been little research on BIID, and the causes of this disorder is not 100% confirmed and understood. Here are a few possible reasons, according to researchers:
1) Cognitive mismapping
The sensory cortex at the brain’s parietal lobe specializes in detecting somatosensory information coming from limbs or body parts. In simpler words, your sensory systems are disconnected or mismatched, causing you to feel as if the limb is foreign. Patients feel as if their limb(s) is/are incomplete and disassociated from the rest of your body.
2) Suffering from other personality conditions such as body dysmorphia
3) Having early childhood Obsessive Compulsive tendencies
4) Childhood trauma
5) Exposed to people who have been amputated from a very young age
There has been little research on BIID, and the treatment of this disorder is not 100% confirmed and understood. Here are a few possible treatments, according to researchers:
1) Cognitive-behavioural therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of a few psychotherapeutic treatments. It has been demonstrated to be rather effective and has been proven to be able to improve in functioning and quality of life. The very core principle of CBT is to challenge unhealthy ways of thinking, and can help with a wide range of disorders such as anxiety, drug addiction, OCD, PTSD, bipolar and many more.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, SSRIs, are the most frequent type of antidepressants prescribed. They include antidepressants such as Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft and a few more. SSRIs are used to treat a good number of conditions, such as bulimia, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression, etc
According to the little research done, SSRIs can treat the depression and anxiety that are possible symptoms of BIID. There is no direct and complete cure for BIID currently.
3) The easiest way to treat BIID is to amputate the patient’s desired limb. However this cannot always be done because the risks of a failed surgery is quite high (around 30%). Doctors who try to find ways to treat BIID without amputation will normally give a referral letter to ask you to see a CBT.
BIID is not listed in the current DSM-V as an official disorder, since there has been minimal research done on this disorder. People who suffer from BIID should also seek help immediately, and treat it indirectly by minimizing the amount of symptoms they carry.
Because Mental Health post on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy