Thursday, June 23, 2005

Giving an Arm and a Leg

It's important to read obscure Australian science news websites. Or at least, it's important to read the FARK links associated with obscure Australian science news websites. Where else would I have found out this information?

People should be able to have healthy limbs removed by choice, say two Australian philosophers who are exploring the phenomenon of "amputee wannabes".

Amputee wannabes become obsessed with cutting off a particular part of their body, even though it may be healthy.Past research has suggested this rare condition may be because they believe their body part is diseased or ugly, because the notion of becoming an amputee sexually excites them, or because of a mismatch between their body and their image of it.

Cutting off your arm for sexual excitement? I've heard of rough sex, but this is ridiculous...I once slept with a woman who was missing an arm - she liked to do it three-legged doggy style. When I met my wife, she called me disarming - she'd rather chew off her own arm than date me. I tell you, I get no respect, no respect at all.

Sorry, slipped into Dangerfield mode for a second there. I feel better now.

I'm just wondering how any sort of professional can approve of sanctioning people to remove their own limbs for sexual excitement. I mean, even if that's the greatest orgasm ever, once it's over, you've got one less leg. Now how are you supposed to go to the kitchen for a snack? You can't - you've only got one leg. And forget if you want to go at it again a few minutes later.

Dr Tim Bayne of Macquarie University and Dr Neil Levy from the University of Melbourne argue that people who want a healthy body part amputated are suffering from a condition known as body integrity identity disorder (BIID), or amputee identity disorder.

Writing in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Philosophy they say "such amputations should be morally permissible" on the grounds that people with BIID are not "globally irrational" and that they are experiencing suffering that can be alleviated through amputation.

What are they basing this stuff on? Someone who appeals to the government to allow the voluntary removal of your healthy limb isn't irrational? That's like the dictionary definition of irrational. Look, this is not like having your tonsils removed. Imagine only having one leg; you can't get around. I know lots of people in LA who can't live a few days without their cars, and they have fully functioning undercarriages.

And missing an arm? Voluntarily? I hope you don't want to play on the company softball team, jackass.

That's the sort of decision you don't make lightly. "Do I really want to ditch this whole left arm thing and just go with the right one? I mean, the left one doesn't quite feel right. I know it's attached to my shoulder and all, which would seem to mean it belongs on my body, but I don't know...it somehow lacks integrity..."

The authors also say that people who don't have access to a surgeon may attempt to cut off a limb themselves or may damage it to the point that amputation is necessary.

"Surgery might be the least of all evils," they write. "Where a wannabe has a long standing and informed request for amputation, it therefore seems permissible for a surgeon to act on this request."

An informed request for amputation? An informed request?

And, by the way, where are the links to the stories about people cutting off their own limbs in their home workshops? That's the stuff I want to read! Not more of these Social Security, Iraq, missing Aruba chick articles! Come through for me, Fox News!

The first person to use the term BIID was US psychiatrist Associate Professor Michael First from Columbia University, who interviewed 52 wannabes as part of a recent study which has been submitted for publication.

He found that 15% of wannabes identified sexual arousal as a reason for amputation, 63% wanted to be restored to their "true identity" and 37% said the limb "felt different".

Thirteen percent said the limb didn't feel like their own and six people had tried to perform their own amputation, including using a chainsaw.

See, the guy doing the chainsaw amputation had a demon in his hand, okay, that came out of the Necronomicon. So he had no choice but to cut it off.

I have to say, that is some creepy shit. Can you imagine going through life with the feeling that one of your limbs was "not [your] own"? Like, everything else feels normal, but you've just got a phantom shin? Weird...What neurological wackiness could possibly cause a reaction like that? Some neurons just misfire and you develop Frankenstein Shoulder Syndrome.

Levy says it's unclear exactly what causes BIID, although it may be the result of a cortical misalignment between how the brain "sees" the limb and what's really there.

He says in the case of so-called "phantom limbs", people who lose a limb may experience the sensation that it's still there. This is because the way the limb is represented in the brain hasn't caught up with the physical change.

But amputee wannabes may have the limb but not the cortical representation.

Oh...Cool...See, you really learn something by reading the whole article, and not just skimming the first few paragraphs for funny crap.

1 comment:

benny said...

I'm so proud. My supervisor at uni has made it onto your blog.

Go Neil go!