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People with Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID): Their needs are unmet - forcing to resort to extreme measures

Body Integrity Identity Disorder - Psychological, Neurobiological, Ethical and Legal Aspects

There is a growing at-risk population struggling for help from the medical and conseling professions: This population strongly desires amputation of certain healthy working body parts. Prevalence rates are increasing due to internet support groups, chat rooms and discussion boards. The challenge however is that most medical professionals refuse to perform a medical procedure, especially an amputation of a healthy viable limb. As a result, many sufferers of this disorder are engaging in attempts and completions of self amputation. Aglaja Stirn and colleagues report the relevant details in their textbook "Body Integrity Identity Disorder: Psychological, Neurobiological, Ethical and Legal Aspects".

There are three interrelated groups:

  • Devotees are sexually attracted to people with disabilities, but are not themselves disabled.
  • Pretenders behave as though they have a disability by using assistive devices such as braces, wheelchairs, or canes unnecessarily. They feign impairment , perhaps as a point along a developmental continuum. Many pretenders evidence a sexual component.
  • Wannabes desire to become disabled and sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to self amputate or have a healthy part of their bodies surgically removed. Regardless of the encompassing diagnostic label, individuals´ goals are not homogenous. Some seek paralysis, while others seek removal.


Some individuals describe a progression from devotee to pretender to wannabe and then ultimately to successful amputation. The age of onset varies widely; a significant number of BIID-individuals have been aware of this preference since their youth.  

A. Stirn, A. Thiel, S. Oddo (Eds.)
Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID): Psychological, Neurobiological, Ethical and Legal Aspects.
Pabst, 252 pages. Paperback ISBN 978-3-89967-592-4