Apotemnophilia: Would You Remove One of Your Own Limbs?

Apotemnophilia is a mental disorder where an individual experiences a very strong urge to remove an otherwise healthy limb. These people are typically sane and level headed but they ironically consider themselves incomplete. Only after they remove a part of themselves can they feel whole. Some people will feel that the entire limb must be removed and others just want to get rid of a portion. There are often times an exact place where they want it removed. For some these urges are so strong they will intentionally mutilate the limb. This can be done in many gruesome ways. Sufferers of Apotemnophilia have frozen their limbs in dry ice, fired shotguns at them, and even intentionally had them run over by trains. These Apotemnophiles will go to such drastic measures because very few doctors will amputate a healthy limb. Many surgeons feel it goes against their code of ethics to do harm to a healthy body. These people often feel they are left with no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

It is thought that damage to the right parietal lobe is the cause of this rare disorder but there is no definitive cause. Apotemnophilia is also connected to sexual motivation. It is theorized that these people have a sexual desire to become an amputee or to at least have the appearance of one. Another contributor to Apotemnophilia is a distorted body image that is created at a very young age. A very large majority of sufferers claim their unhappiness began early and progressed.

It was recently discovered that a closely related and similar disorder called Body Integrity Identity disorder existed. This disorder is essentially the same as Apotemnophilia but without the sexual motivation. The two are often confused but they are in fact different.

Unfortunately for the sufferers of Apotemnophilia there disorder is rarely diagnosed until they make an attempt to remove the limb in question. These people will spend years in a very deep depression because they are simply unhappy with themselves and their bodies. Psychotherapy shows little if any improvement which really only leaves these people with two choices. They can either live out their entire lives being very unhappy with themselves or they can find a way to rid themselves of the limb. It is very common for Apotemnophiles who have received their amputations to live happy lives after they have the unwanted limbs removed. Even when questioned months or even years after, they still claim they made the right choice.