Canadian Man Has Two Healthy Fingers Amputated Because He “Identifies” As Disabled

The Publica Team

A case report out of Quebec has revealed that a 20-year-old man had surgeons amputate two perfectly healthy fingers in order to alleviate his distress from condition known as “body integrity dysphoria.”

According to the report, which was written by Dr. Nadia Nadeau of the department of psychiatry at Université Laval, the man presented with “profound distress over his left hand’s fourth and fifth fingers,” and had “sought elective amputation after noninvasive treatments proved unsuccessful.”

The man had been diagnosed with body integrity dysphoria, or BID, an exceedingly rare condition characterized by an intense desire to amputate a perfectly healthy body part, such as an arm or a leg. These desires typically stem from a belief the individual holds that their affected area is foreign, diseased, or should not be functional.

According to the case report, the man, who worked in construction, recognized his fingers were healthy but believed “they should not belong to his body, a feeling present since childhood.” The man claimed he was “traumatized” by their existence, and went so far as to obscure them on a daily basis, hiding them or keeping them curled into his palm. He frequently fantasized about amputating them using the equiptment he had access to at the sawmill he was employed at.

While the man was initially subjected to “non-invasive” treatments — including cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, and exposure therapy — he only continued to become more insistent about the amputation of his fingers. According to Dr. Nadeau, the man compared his condition to gender dysphoria.

After the man expressed he was prepared to amputate his own digits with the assistance of a friend, Dr. Nadeau says a surgical intervention was ordered.

“Despite ethical concerns and limited literature on BID, the decision to proceed with elective surgery was based on the patient’s sustained desire, potential risks of self-harm, and the distinct presentation involving two fingers rather than a complete limb,” she wrote in her report. “Following amputation, the patient experienced immediate relief, with nightmares ceasing, emotional distress subsiding, and improved functionality.”

Dr. Nadeau continues: “Postoperative pain … quickly resolved in a week and solved the main problem of the patient, enabling him to pursue the of life he envisioned as a complete human being without those two fingers bothering him.”

She continued that the man has been leading an improved life since the surgery, writing: “He won arm-wrestling games, is able to drive his four-wheeler, [and] kept working with his hands without any problem. He has constructive life plans, reduced anger, and improved well-being with family and at work. No regrets were expressed.”

In the discussion portion of the case report, Dr. Nadeau notes that one of the earliest described cases of body integrity dysphoria was termed by John Money in 1977.

Money was a controversial sexologist known for conducting a disturbing experiment on two young twin boys in order to prove his theories on the fluidity of “gender identity.” One of the boys, David Reimer, was the victim of a botched circumcision which left his parents concerned about his masculinity. After seeking out Money’s advice, Reimer was fully castrated and raised as a “girl.” In order to force the child to fully accept his “feminine” role, Money would later order the child to perform sexually with his own brother, often in front of audiences of adults.

The report ends with Dr. Nadeau thanking the doctors involved, and writing: “I would like to extend special thanks to this patient for serving as a teacher for all of us in this situation and salute his courage in living as his authentic self.”

The case report out of Quebec is not the first recorded instance of body integrity dysphoria.

In 2015, a woman named Jewel Shuping gained notoriety after she intentionally blinded herself due to her belief that she was supposed to have been born with a visual disability. With the assistance of an emphatic psychologist, Shuping used drain cleaner to permanently damage her eyes, fulfilling her life-long dream of blindness.

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