Friday, September 28, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #45: Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Other Mental Illnesses You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, Unless You Watch TLC

This topic came up in the comments section of last week’s FFF, which was about transplants, cause I was talking about cutting things out/off of people and inserting them in/sewing them on to other people, so naturally, the subject of wanting to have things chopped off of you for no good reason came up. Paulie Elllllllliottttttt brought it up, and Christina Majaski said she wanted me to blog about it, and it’s not that I’m not open to Friday Facts suggestions, it’s just that most people completely miss the mark when making them.

You could not hit the side of this barn with your suggestions, people. ~ Anthony Citrano

So, at the risk of poking fun at the mentally ill, which is a terrible, awful, evil, very bad thing to do, and which will surely send me straight to Hell to burn and suffer and cry for all eternity, here they are – your Fun Friday Facts, voluntary amputee edition.

1) As you may have already guessed, body integrity identity disorder is what it’s called when you staunchly believe you’d be happier or look better or what the f*ck ever if missing a limb, or blind, or paralyzed, or deaf. If anybody out there has this, please to explain.

Psychiatrists don’t know what causes this, but they suspect it is a fault in the brain’s ability to understand the parameters of the body. Yeah, no sh*t.

According to Wikipedia, “The sufferer feels incomplete with four limbs, but is confident amputation will fix this. The sufferer knows exactly what part of which limb should be amputated to relieve the suffering. The sufferer has intense feelings of envy toward amputees.” A person with this disorder may pretend to be an amputee, either privately or not. Somehow, they’re able to understand that wanting to have a perfectly healthy limb chopped off is abnormal. For some reason, a large number of them want their left leg amputated above the knee. The medical community frowns upon surgically removing perfectly good limbs, severing perfectly good spinal cords, and plucking out perfectly good eyes, so people with this disorder are left to struggle through largely ineffective psychotherapy and medication, or, like this guy, chop off their own hands.

Paulie reckons this is where the double-arm-transplant recipient got the arms, by the way.

2) If a person is sexually aroused by the thought of being an amputee, it’s called apotemnophilia. It should not be confused with acrotomophilia, or sexual interest in other people who happen to be amputees. Studies show (studies!) that people who get all hot and bothered about amputees prefer single leg amputations that leave a stump, because those are the sexiest kind of amputations, as amputations go. They also “adhere to standard conceptions of attractiveness in all other matters,” so, you know, I guess you can have the rockinest leg amputation in the world, but if you’re snaggle-toothed and uni-browed and bray like a donkey every time you laugh, no lovin’ for you.

Mama says some guys like unibrows.

3) Somatoparaphrenia is the belief that a limb, extremity or, in some cases, the whole side of one’s body does not belong to one. When this belief is challenged, the patient will have a detailed story about who the limb/extremity/whole side of one’s body actually belongs to, and how they ended up with it, and he or she will totally believe it, too. If anybody out there has this, please tell us how you ended up with whatever body part you’ve got that isn’t yours. I would genuinely like to know.

4) Somatoparaphrenia is just one of many monothematic delusions, which are delusions that extend to just one specific thing, as compared with polythematic delusions, which occur in groups. A person with dementia, schizophrenia or another mental disorder might show symptoms of a monothematic delusion, or they can occur completely in the absence of other mental disorders. Some, like somatoparaphrenia, are caused by damage to certain regions of the brain.

The various (incredibly fascinating) types of monothematic delusion include:

  • The delusion that a partner, close relation or spouse has been replaced by an imposter, know as Capgras delusion.
  • Cotard delusion, which is the belief that one is nonexistent, dead, rotting or short a few internal organs, which must be distressing, to say the least.
  • Syndrome of subjective doubles, or the belief that one has a doppelganger that does things without consulting it. Would it be wrong for you to claim this the next time you get caught doing something you shouldn’t? Why yes, yes it would. Shame on you for even thinking it.
  • The delusion that multiple people one encounters are actually a single person wearing different disguises, known as Fregoli delusion.
  • The belief that different people around one trade identities with each other while still appearing outwardly the same, known as intermetamorphosis.

There are more, but if I list them all no one will get to say, “Hey, you missed such-and-such” in the comments, and I’d hate to deprive you of your ability to participate.

I encourage your participation. Really.

5) Anton-Babinski syndrome occurs when someone suffers blindness due to brain damage, but misses the memo and continues to believe and behave as though they could see. A person with this syndrome will typically insist that they can see, and will back this up by describing, in great detail, all the things and people around them that they cannot, in fact, see, and which may not, as a result, actually be there. It can take a while for others to catch on that the person is blind, since they’ll continue to act and speak as if they can see. Friends, family and caretakers will realize that the person is blind when they start walking into walls and sh*t.

No one knows why people with Anton-Babinski syndrome don’t realize they’re blind, but it may have to do with a lack of communication between the visual and speech centers of the brain, which leads the speech centers of the brain to start making things up.

Damn you, brain.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Recently, someone I thought was a friend accused me of cat-lady-ness. Once I recovered from the shock (which entailed going out and heckling some poor goober who was PLAYING THE FUCKING KAZOO as a musical act, for f*ck’s sake), I gathered myself together for this rebuttal. I am not, in fact, a cat lady, and here are the reasons why:

1) I Didn’t Even Want the Damn Cat

As I have already complained to everyone who will f*cking listen, I didn’t even want the damn cat. My aunts were at Wal-Mart and there was a lady giving away free kittens and my aunts decided I needed a new cat to replace my beloved old cat who’d died about a year prior. They mean well, but I seem to recall a wise proverb about good intentions and where they lead. There was also some muttering about how I “can’t live in that big old house all by [my]self.” F*ck you, I can if I want.

You're never alone when you have a plant.

The cat was insanely tiny when I got it, and had no business being away from its mother, and since my cold, hard heart isn’t completely cold and hard yet, I decided to keep it until it was old enough to give to a good home. Of course, by that time, I was attached. BUT NOT THAT ATTACHED, DAMMIT.

Feelings are for mortals.

2) My Cat Does Not Have a Long-Ass Name

Bubblegum Cari (from now on I’m just going to call her “Bubblegum,”) identifies “giving your cats long ass names” as a symptom of cat-ladyfication.

My cat’s name is Shoe. I gave him that name because, when he was small enough to fit in my pocket and therefore carry around conveniently, he really liked shoes.

A lot.

Other names I considered included Minute, because he was no bigger than one, and Pocket, because he was small enough to fit therein. I did not, however, consider calling him Corporal Minute Nobiggerthan Littleface, or Sir Pocket von Fittington, IV, because, contrary to all of the evidence, I am not in fact insane.


Furthermore, let the record show that most of the time I eschew using the cat’s real name in favor of calling him “the cat,” “that damn cat,” “that fucking cat,” or “the little asshole.”

3) I’m Not Giving It My Last Name

I don’t call the cat “Shoe McAtee.” To be honest I’d feel a little weird giving the cat my last name. After all, I didn’t give birth to it. I don’t even know that he wants my sh*tty name. Maybe he already has a cool name that can only be said in cat-language. Probably not, cause he spends half the day chasing his own tail and then growls at himself when he bites it. He might be a dog.


Needless to say, I’m not dressing it up in little outfits, throwing it birthday parties, or celebrating its wedding. I had it neutered, so there will be no wedding.

4) I Only Have the One Cat

I think most people can agree that a cat lady must have three to five cats, minimum, and that most cat ladies have all the cats in the tri-county area. I have one cat, and I don’t even like him that much. He climbs my legs, tries to eat my trusty plant, scratches my secondhand furniture and bites the fuck out of me every. Single. Day.

5) I Don’t Spoil the Little Asshole

Last week I bought a different brand of food from the one I usually buy him, because it was on sale on account of being almost expired, or something. I could tell he didn’t like it as much as he likes the normal brand, but I said, “You’re going to eat it anyway, you little asshole.” It’s not verbal abuse, because he doesn’t speak English.

I don’t buy the cat expensive toys, either. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I know that the likelihood a cat will completely ignore any toy/scratching post/bed/kitty jungle gym you buy for it increases depending on how much money you spent. I’ve spent a total of about twenty dollars on toys for the cat, and that’s only because I spent ten dollars on one of those plastic-donut-with-a-ball-inside things so that the cat can f*cking entertain itself for f*cking once and leave me the f*ck alone while I’m f*cking writing.

One of these. He doesn't like it much.

I also splurged and spent three dollars on a laser pointer, on the advice of a random ten-year-old in Petco. Why are small children advising strangers in pet stores? I don’t know, but I have to say, that kid was right. The f*cking cat loves the laser pointer and watching him try to catch the red dot is worth at least three dollars, if not more.

"It's on me! How did it get on me?!?"

The other seven dollars went to fuzzy mice, which promptly “got lost under the fridge,” which I’m pretty sure was just a ploy to get me to open up the broom closet/furnace room so the f*cking cat could sneak in there and hide behind the furnace, like the asshole that he is.

6) I Put Him Out Sometimes, Too

Now, I thought I was doing him a favor by letting him play outside once in a while. After all, how would you feel if you had to spend your whole life locked up inside a house? Even if the house was a mansion, you'd still crave fresh air and sunshine, right? So, I put him out sometimes. I mean, I'm only putting him out for short periods, since he's little, and I keep a close eye on him, since he still requires supervision (the other day he tried to eat a staple, for example). But, when he gets bigger, I intend to let him go outside pretty much as he pleases, and drag home dead things, in the tradition of his forebears.

I guess putting your cat out is the cardinal sin of cat ownership, however, because when I mention this to anyone, they look at me in horror and say, "You put him OUT?!?" as if I'd just said I put him in the oven, or something. "But, it's dangerous out there!" they always stammer. "He could get eaten by a fox! Or hit by a car! Or shot!"

To which I reply, "It's a cat, not a child. Calm down."

7) I Don’t Let It Sleep With Me, Either

The f*cking cat is permanently banned from my bedroom, because he goes in the closet and climbs my dresses. I’m a writer, I’m too poor to buy new clothes.

Besides, my plant is in the witness protection program.

Letting cats sleep with you is just asking for trouble. They wait until you’re just falling asleep and then walk across your face and wake you up. When you wake up in the morning, your mouth tastes like a cat’s ass because guess what. F*ck that. I make the little asshole sleep in the hallway. Of course, when morning comes and/or he’s out of food he starts scratching at the door to get me to wake up. I keep a squirt bottle in my room and, because I refuse to let a cat push me around, when he starts scratching at my door I open it up and SOAK THE LITTLE F*CKER.

I would make a terrible mom.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #44: Transplants Edition

Today I’m going to blog about transplants because last week I read about this woman in Texas who is getting the nation’s first double arm transplant. And I thought to myself, “Holy shitballs I didn’t even know they could do that. Arms, man. They can transplant arms.

Arms, man.

After looking into it a little bit more, I discovered that this arm-transplant procedure was first performed in Germany in July 2008, to a patient named Karl Merk. Though surgeons believed that it would take up to two years for Merk to gain use of the arms, he was already able to wave them a year later. And, I mean, arms are really complicated. They aren’t like hearts or kidneys or whatever, where you just plop them in there and you’re good. They have bones and nerves and muscles in them and shit.

So needless to say I was so fascinated by this arm transplant business that I just had to look into this whole transplants business. Here’s what I found out:

1) Like a lot of the thingsI blog about, transplants appearto be older than you would think. Of course, way back in the mists of time we have accounts of a Chinese surgeon swapping the hearts of two men, because sure, why not. Totally happened.

The Chinese have an ancient and advanced civilization.

2) In the 3rd century AD, the Roman Catholic saints Cosmas and Damien are said to have saved the life of a deacon by giving him the leg of a dead man. Considering that modern surgeons seem to have only just figured out the arm thing, well, I don’t know. Also, some accounts record this as happening in the 4th century, which might have presented problems for the dynamic duo of improbably early leg transplanting, since they would have been dead by then.

I call shenanigans.

3) It’s entirely possible, however, the Indian physician Sushruta may have, in the 2nd century BC, used skin from another part of his patient’s body to reconstruct his nose. Autograft transplants using the patient’s own tissue are safest and heal relatively quickly, and tissue transplants don’t carry the same risk of rejection that organ transplants do. So, this could have happened. Also, Sushruta is now widely acknowledged as the father of modern plastic surgery, so there’s that.

4) The first successful living organ transplant was performed in 1954. Surgeons removed a kidney from Ronald Herrick and implanted it into his twin, Richard. Because the twins were identical, there was no risk of rejection. You see, it’s always good to have a twin.

Too bad I ate mine in the womb.

5) The advent of immunosuppressive drugs in the 1950s improved the chances of transplant success. A “successful” lung transplant in 1963 kept the patient alive long enough to die of kidney failure 18 days later. The first “successful” heart transplant occurred on 3 December 1967, in Cape Town, South Africa. The patient, Louis Washkansky, also survived for only 18 days. More than one hundred patients received heart transplants between 1968 and 1969, with only one surviving for longer than two months.

Congratulations, you're still gonna die.

The invention of cyclosporine in 1970 made transplants a realistic medical alternative instead of evidence that you had apparently already donated your body to science. By 1984, two-thirds of heart transplant patients lived for at least five years following the surgery. In 1981, the first successful heart-lung transplant was performed. And now, they can transplant anything, I guess, even faces. Where do they get a face donor? I don’t wanna know.

Does this mean if I get into a car accident, they're gonna take my face?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #43: Dog Edition

I did cats last time I did one of these (which was the Friday before last, because, it pains me to admit, I have issues with commitment), and cats and dogs go together like...two things that do not go together very well, actually. Oil and water. Husbands and mothers-in-law. Something like that. I dunno, you guys, I'm grasping for straws here, since I'm pretty crap at coming up with topics for these things, anyway. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about dogs, but were afraid to ask, because you have irrational and very oddly specific fears, presumably.

On an unrelated note, I am currently obsessed with Check it.

1) Dogs may have emerged as a species distinct from gray wolves as many as 100,000 years ago, although the oldest known specimen of a dog is only 33,000 years old. the lineage of modern dogs can only be traced back about 15,000 years. Older lineages of dogs died out during the Last Glacial Maximum, a period between 19,000 and 26,500 years ago when glaciers covered large portions of Asia, Europe, and North America.

This shit just got complicated, fast. ~ Robert A. Rohde

2) Sargeant Stubby, a pit bull (we think), became famous nationwide for his acts of heroism in France during World War I. Stubby entered the service when he befriended Corporal Robert Conroy at Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticut, during military drills. Conroy became so attached to Stubby that, when he shipped out, he smuggled the dog onto the boat. Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry Division, 26th Yankee Division for 18 months, starting on 5 February 1918. He fought in 17 battles.

And got all these medals.

In addition to improving morale, Stubby also learned to warn his unit of incoming artillery shells – his sensitive ears were able to detect them far sooner than his humans could. When Stubby was wounded in April 1918, he didn't lose hope – instead of moping around, like a stupid human would do, Stubby cheered up the other wounded until it was time to return to the front. When Stubby suffered from a gas attack, he used his new knowledge to warn the others of impending poison gas clouds. He located wounded soldiers in no man's land and, in the Argonne, he single-handedly (footedly?) captured a German spy. When American troops liberated Chateau-Thierry, the ladies of the village made Stubby his spiffy jacket, giving him, at long last, something to pin his medals on.

His many, many medals.
When the war ended, Conroy smuggled Stubby home again, where he was feted as a hero. Stubby led parades across the nation and was received by Presidents Wilson, Coolidge and Harding. When Conroy began attending Georgetown University Law Center, Stubby went too, and became the football team's mascot. He was decorated with over a dozen medals, and honored with a lifetime membership to the American Legion, among other organizations. Stubby died at the age of ten (or eleven), in his owner's arms. His remains are on display at the Smithsonian, and, on 11 November 2006, he was given a brick in the Walk of Honor at the US WWI monument in Kansas City.

OMFG now I'm crying.

3) As King of the Hill fans will already be aware, dog dancing is a thing. It's officially called musical canine freestyle and is described on Wikipedia as a “mixture of obedience training, tricks and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners.” It emerged in the late 80s and early 90s in the US, Canada, England and the Netherlands. The first official group, Musical Canine Sports International, appeared in British Columbia in 1991. While British groups apparently focus more on training the dog to heel (to music?), American groups incorporate more flashy tricks and elaborate costumes.

Because we can't hear you over the sound of our freedom. ~ Mary Jo Sminkey

In freestyle heeling, the dog remains close to the handler while mimicking his or her movements, almost as if they are invisibly linked. In musical freestyle, the dog learns to jump, do tricks, weave through the handler's legs, and other elaborate stuff. To music.

People spend time on this. Then they hold competitions. ~ Mary Jo Sminkey

4) Dogs are apparently doing yoga now (known as “doga,” ha ha ha) by which I mean, there are special classes into which you can take your dog and manhandle it into all sorts of pretzel shapes. Participants also use their dogs as yoga props, because exploiting living things is totally in the spirit of yoga.


Critics call the practice a “fad” and claim that it has trivialized an ancient and sacred spiritual practice (never!). Proponents argue that doga helps owners bond with their dogs, as well as providing extra weight resistance, when you flop them on top of you like a sack of beans.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thoughts on Turning 30

I'm turning 30 today, and everyone's acting as if somebody died. They're right. My life is over, and my womb is as barren as the Sahara.

Never again will I f*ck a 22-year-old without him telling me I've got a really good body “for my age.” Just joking, I haven't been able to do that for, like, five years, because 22-year-olds are really, really stupid. In fact, I could probably tell them I'm 22 myself and they'd never know the difference. “Oh, these white hairs? I saw a ghost last year and took an awful fright. I know, right? Who knew?”

But seriously, y'all, 30 is the new 20, except I'm allowed to drink and also know how to do it.1 I have a much better car. I own a house. I have a career, such as it is. Unlike you, I enjoy working out. I speak French, dammit. I am, as they say, young enough to still be hot, but old enough to know better.

Not that I'm planning to act on that knowledge at all.

Okay, so if I'm honest, yeah, I'm freaking out a little bit. I was gonna jump up here and be all, “Yo, I'm turning 30 and I'm not freaked out at all, cause I'm gonna rock this sh*t,” but that's not true. I mean, I am gonna rock this sh*t, just like I always rock all my sh*t, but I'm still a little freaked out.

I'm 30 years old. That's way older than I ever thought I'd be. My friends are 30 years old, too. The other day I went to a party and ran into a guy I'd been to high school with, and he was all, “Yeah, I'm a professor now,” and at first I was like, “Well sh*t how'd you find time for that,” and then I was like, “Oh yeah, cause we're grown-ups now. Duh.”

I thought I would've accomplished more by the age of 30. I suppose most women in my position would be wondering why their family still just consists of a cat. I'm wondering why I still haven't published a book.

And so are you, I know, I know.

I'm also wondering what happened to my youth, why did I waste so much time in this or that bad relationship, why didn't I travel more, why didn't I go to grad school, because I hold myself to an impossibly high standard and, when I don't meet it, I drink to escape the shame.2

But, moving beyond all that, I'm only turning 30, not dropping dead. It's not the 1400s anymore, I'm not an old lady, I don't have to “put my youth behind me” because it's not over yet (no matter what the asshat women's magazines might have to say on the matter). That's the thing, though. At 20 you think you're gonna live forever. At 30 you realize you won't.

On the other hand, I've been looking forward to being 30, for a reason – when you're 30 years old, you're  definitely an adult. Throughout your twenties, people kind of look at you like you're just practicing. When you reach your thirties, however, people expect that you're handling your sh*t.

Of course, this could backfire on me, as in – “What the f*ck does she think she's doing, she's 30 years old, for f*ck's sake.”

To which I'll reply, “I'll do what I want, motherf*cker, I'm 30 years old.”  

1. [Plus I can afford decent booze. No more five-dollar bottles of vodka for me!]
2. [Not really.]