Amputation by choice
December 13, 2000 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Amputation by choice people who want to have one or more limb cut off (and in some cases achieve their desire, by self-help or medical intervention) explored in The Atlantic (more inside).
posted by MattD (10 comments total)
The article has two main points.

First, the baseline of the phenomenon may be best explained as a sort of body-image-dysmorphia quite akin to gender-identify-disorder, the condition which drives transsexualism and some forms of transvestism.

Second, that the baseline of the phenomenon is dramatically scaled up (or aggravated, if you accept that it is a pathology) by the Internet -- because it is a vehicle for communication and research for those who are dysmorphic about a body part(s), many of those who would otherwise have regarded their inclinations as a bizarre quirk instead can relish in them and gradually build up the intensity of their obsession until the _lack_ of amputation becomes intolerable.
posted by MattD at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2000

Weird, but interesting stuff.
posted by tiaka at 4:00 PM on December 13, 2000

seems pretty 'armless to me
posted by lagado at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2000

Off with 'is head!
posted by baylink at 4:55 PM on December 13, 2000

[ actually *reads* article ]

You know, I found the whole bit on page three about Semantic Contagion *incredibly* thought provoking. *Are* there things we're better off not being exposed to?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
posted by baylink at 5:49 PM on December 13, 2000

Wonderful story.

The first thing that came to mind is sex changes. All about how one wants to be see themselves. I know of one white guy at polytech who wanted to be black (not sure how serious he was, but he kept it up for at least six months). Pity would be given to an amputee, I wonder if (in part) they want that.

I might remove a finger as a conversation piece. har! har!
posted by holloway at 11:44 PM on December 13, 2000

Holloway, have you read "Invisible Monsters" by the Fight Club guy (dunno if that's a pro or con to you..) You might find it interesting.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2000

Has anyone else here read Geek Love? Fascinating, creepy, scary, disturbing, entertaining book.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2000

Realize that this John Money guy mentioned repeatedly in the article is a total fucking crackpot, and I'm not saying that lightly.

Read the book As Nature Made Him, the Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl for details. It's the tragic story of a boy who is a male identical twin, and whose penis was essentially destroyed in a botched circumcision. His twin was perfectly healthy (they didn't try the circumcision on him).

John Money told the parents they should completely remove the rest of his penis and raise him as a girl. He also had the boy and his brother come to his clinic every year for bizarre so-called therapy, that sounds a lot like sexual abuse to me. Read the book. The guy's a total nut.

It turns out that raising him as a girl was a great way to cause him incredible emotional pain, and he eventually insisted on living as a man once he grew a little older. He has even married (to a woman who has children already) and had penile reconstruction surgery.

This John Money character is a megalomaniacal crackpot who has caused untold damage to all kinds of people (this is not the only family he advised so imprudently).

An advocacy organization of people who have issues of ambiguous, malformed, or injured genitalia, known as intersex individuals, strongly argues that *they* should be in charge of deciding which gender they more identify with, and then any appropriate surgery should be done only with their consent.

Then there's a really surprising creepy part of the book near the end, but I won't give it away (my jaw hit the floor). Read it, it's riveting and very, very good (although disturbing, too).

John Money has/had some very bizarre and wrongheaded ideas about sex when it came to intersex people, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's totally off-base when it comes to people who desire amputation.
posted by beth at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2000

When Krafft-Ebing was writing Psychopathia Sexualis, people with unusual desires could live their entire lives without knowing that there was anyone else in the world like them. Today all it takes is a computer terminal. On the Internet you can find a community to which you can listen or reveal yourself, and instant validation for your condition, whatever it may be.

Actually read article too. Long but interesting.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 4:45 PM on September 3, 2001

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