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What is Body Integrity Dysphoria

What is Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID)?

BIID is a condition where a person experiences strong feelings of discomfort with their own physical appearance. People suffering from BIID have a strong desire to change their bodies, usually because they feel it would improve them in some way. They may even go so far as to try to remove parts of themselves or even undergo surgery. Some people with BIID seek medical attention due to these urges, but others do not want any kind of treatment at all. BIID can cause a person to feel very unhappy. They may also become increasingly isolated, and have problems relating to others. However, it is possible to live well with this condition with the help of therapy and support groups.

What are symptoms of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID)?

The most common symptoms of BIID are:

A strong desire to have a certain body part removed

A strong desire for a certain body part to be removed

A strong desire to have a certain body part of another person to be transplanted onto them

A strong desire for a certain body part of another person to be transplanted onto them

Dissatisfaction with their own body

Dissatisfaction with certain body parts

The need to learn more about BIID

The need to seek medical treatment for BIID

What are causes of Body Integrity Identity Disorder?

The exact causes of BIID are unknown, however researchers believe that it could be caused by a mixture of physical and environmental factors. These factors could include:

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Genetics – People who have family members such as siblings or parents with the condition are more likely to develop it themselves.

Environment – A traumatic event during childhood, or an event later in life, has been linked to the development of BIID.

Brain Function – Certain parts of the brain may not develop as they should. There have been some cases where damage to certain areas of the brain has lead to symptoms of BIID.

The reasons why people develop BIID are not fully understood, however it is thought that the root cause is biological. This means that the condition is probably caused by an issue with a certain part of the body’s biology, rather than anything related to psychology or the way a person thinks.

What are treatments for Body Integrity Identity Disorder?

Unfortunately there is no treatment that can ‘cure’ BIID. However, there are ways to manage the condition. Treatments include:

Finding ways to make a person feel happier and more confident about themselves and their body

Having surgery to remove the part of the body that is causing unease (very rare)

Seeking out support groups where people can talk about their condition and feel understood

What is Xenomelia?

Xenomelia, also known as Apotemnophilia, is a rare psychological condition where a person is strongly compelled to have their own limb removed. People who suffer from this condition often feel a great sense of unease due to having a certain limb, and feel as if their quality of life is severely compromised because of it. In some cases the limb, or part of it, is non-functional, such as a missing arm or leg. In other cases the limb is functional, such as a missing hand. People who suffer from Xenomelia often feel that their life will be improved by having the affected limb removed.

What are the causes of Xenomelia?

Just like with BIID, the exact causes of Xenomelia are poorly understood and not well researched. It is unclear why some people suffer from it and others don’t, however it is known to often run in families. It is a disorder that has only relatively recently come to the attention of medical professionals and as such, is not very well researched or understood.

What are the symptoms of Xenomelia?

The main symptom of Xenomelia is a strong desire to have a specific limb removed. In some cases this desire is present from birth, and in others it begins later in life. People with this condition often feel a great sense of unease due to their limb, sometimes even feeling tortured by the simple presence of the limb. Some sufferers will attempt to remove their own limb through self-surgery in a desperate attempt to alleviate their discomfort. If such an event occurs please contact your nearest medical centre or hospital.

Seeking out treatment for Body Integrity Identity Disorder

As BIID and Xenomelia are mental conditions, the main treatments are of a medical nature. There are two approaches that can be taken:

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Treatments that seek to alter the patient’s feelings so that they are more comfortable with their body

Treatments that involve altering the patient’s body to make it more comfortable

The method of treatment used is going to depend on the patient and their specific case.

Seeking out treatment for Xenomelia

If you suffer from Xenomelia and feel a strong desire to have a limb removed please seek immediate medical attention. There are a number of groups that you can contact for advice and help. These groups can also put you in contact with a surgeon who can perform the operation you desire.

Xenomelia support groups:

The following are support groups for people who suffer from Xenomelia. Simply send them an email explaining your condition and they’ll reply with information about surgeons in your area.

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Xenomelia.org

Xenomelia.net

Note: Neither of the above websites are associated with me in any way. I’m just list them here as they’re the only ones I could find. There may be better ones out there.

Seeking out treatment for BIID

As with Xenomelia, there are two approaches that can be taken to alleviate the symptoms of BIID:

Treatments that seek to alter the patient’s feelings so that they are more comfortable with their body

Treatments that involve altering the patient’s body to make it more comfortable

The method of treatment used is going to depend on the patient and their specific case. If you feel that you would prefer a treatment that seeks to alter your feelings, then you should speak to a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can prescribe drugs that may make you feel more comfortable in your body. If you feel that you would prefer a treatment that involves altering your body, then you should seek out a surgeon. A surgeon can help you to amputate the limb that gives you a sense of discomfort.

Note: Neither of the above treatments is guaranteed to be successful. Your feelings may not be altered by drug treatment, or you may find that after the surgery you’re still not comfortable in your body. In cases such as this, it may be worth considering the other treatment to see if it is more effective.

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It should be noted that neither of these treatments is likely to be free. You will most likely have to pay a fee, depending on your financial situation you may be able to get help with this. Otherwise you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

Seeking help for a mental condition

As well as the above treatments, if you feel that your desire to have a limb removed is tied to a mental condition, it would be best to seek out professional help for that condition. There are a number of organisations that may be able to put you in contact with someone who can help you, or who can help you directly. The following links may be useful:

Mental Health America

Mental Health Canada

Mental Health UK

Note: As with the other help groups, these aren’t associated with me in any way. These are the only help groups I could find, if you know of any others then please let me know.

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In closing

Xenomelia and BIID can be incredibly difficult to cope with. However, you’re not alone with them and there are ways that you can seek help to make your life easier. I hope that the information provided here has helped you in some way.

Sources & references used in this article:

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