David had just graduated college when he first decided he wanted to cut off his leg.It had plagued him for years.
He considered it “alien,” something not part of his body, and even propped himself on his “good leg” to avoid using it.
He locked his bedroom door, fashioned a tourniquet out of baling twine and an old sock and propped his leg up against a wall to stem blood flow.
Two hours later, the pain too intense to continue, he released the binding. His leg would live another day — but not, he hoped, for much longer.
David and others like him suffer from a rare psychological condition called body integrity identity disorder, where they sufferer desires to amputate a healthy limb. The majority of BIID sufferers are middle-aged white men and the most commonly requested amputation is of the left leg.
Journalist Anil Ananthaswamy discusses the connections between the mind and the body in diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia in his new book “The Man Who Wasn’t There”— but his exploration of BIID sufferers is its most fascinating and bizarre chapter.