Sunday, March 6, 2011

BodMod Week: Amputation.

Hoo boy. Out of all the body modifications this week, today's entry is the most likely one to instantly label someone as a mental patient. Even with eyeball jewelry, tongue bifurcation, and Poke Balls that look like they could give birth to Pokemon at any minute, one body mod stands out as being really, really fucked up: Amputation.

Or maybe he lost his arm in combat and decided to turn it into a shark.

Yes, cutting off a limb can be considered an artistic body modification. It is also, theoretically, the simplest mod done this week. All it entails is cutting off a limb, genitalia (which I am NOT getting into) or...well, anything else. It can be done as part of a religious rite (ceremonial castration comes to mind) or as a sign of a seriously sick mind.

Before you ask what possesses people to do this, amputation is one of the few body modifications with its own set of mental disorders. As per another website on the subject, "Psychiatrists believe that limb amputation is not a sexual fetish or psychosis but a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder, a crippling, but largely unheard of and undiscussed, mental disorder related to Obssessive Compulsive Disorder. BDD sufferers obsess about minor flaws or imagined defects, usually involving the head and face. It can lead to social phobia and reclusion as sufferers avoid contact with others to hide their imagined deformities." 

In short, these people believe that they are freaks and seek to rectify the problem. The end result is something akin to a "chicken or the egg" puzzle; if one thinks one is a freak and, in fixing themselves, look like a freak to everybody else, it's eerily self-fulfilling. 


Another disorder commonly associated with amputation is Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), sometimes simply called "Amputee Identity Disorder." People with BIID do not feel right as long as they have all their limbs. After reading a few reports, it sounds suspiciously like the sensations associated with the Otherkinism mentioned last entry: A general feeling of being not at home in one's body. At least these people are serious about getting their limbs hacked off - after all, they usually have to do the hacking themselves.

These mental disorders create a crisis for surgeons asked to amputate. If somebody with BDD or BIID really thinks that they are in need of an operation, there is a chance that they will perform it themselves and die in the process. It is illegal to amputate a perfectly healthy limb most of the time; this means that many of BDD and BIID people have to freeze their body parts off or otherwise remove them themselves. Even licensed surgeons refuse to cut off a working leg.


Some body modifications, like tattoos, are relatively harmless. Amputation is not one of them. Magnify every "be careful when you do this!" warning we have ever given by 100. There was a reason we ended BodMod Week with amputation.

Tomorrow: Finally, we get back to animals! Have you ever wondered what it must be like to see on the full light spectrum? :D

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