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Body Integrity Identity Disorder: The Persistent Desire to Acquire a Physical Disability

First M.B. · Fisher C.E.
Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., USA Psychopathology 2012;45:3–14 (DOI:10.1159/000330503)


Background: Body integrity identity disorder (BIID) is a rare and unusual psychiatric condition characterized by a persistent desire to acquire a physical disability (e.g., amputation, paraplegia) since childhood that to date has not been formally described in the psychiatric nosology. Most BIID sufferers experience a chronic and dysphoric sense of inappropriateness regarding their being able-bodied, and many have been driven to actualize their desired disability through surreptitious surgical or other more dangerous methods. This review aims to characterize the history and phenomenology of this condition, to present its differential diagnosis, and to consider possible etiologies, treatment options, and ethical considerations. Sampling and Method: Review of the psychiatric and neurological literature. Results: A growing body of data suggests the existence of a discrete entity with onset by early adolescence and a negative impact on functioning. Parallel neurological conditions and preliminary experimental investigations suggest a possible neurobiological component in at least a portion of cases. While attempts at treatment have been described, no systematic evidence for efficacy has emerged. Discussion: BIID is a unique nosological entity with significant consequences for its sufferers and as such may warrant inclusion in some form in the forthcoming DSM-5 and ICD-11.


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