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.