Complete Obsession – Body Dysmorphia

In today’s class Margaret made a comment about people who voluntarily undergo an amputation to get rid of healthy limbs, which I found very interesting. So I did some research and decided to write my second blog post on this topic.

People who do feel the urge to undergo an amputation, even though there is nothing physically wrong with them, are called Dysmorphics. They are obsessed to be rid of a limb and want to have it removed, as they deem it to be extraneous, they feel like it “shouldn’t be there”.

I came across this documentary where they follow different people who are considered Dysmorphics.

I found interesting  that these people have to be seen by two psychiatrists and confirmed to be sane but dysmorphic before they get the surgery they call for. What this implies and what they also state in the video is that they are not mentally diseased or deluded in any kind of way, but that they’re psycologically obsessed. The surgeon compares them to transexuals who don’t feel right in their body/sex so they want to get it changed. Therefore, Dysmorphics ask for a surgery “with equally as much degree of obession, need, and urgency” as transexuals do who are rarely considered to have a mental illness.

Paradoxically, these poeple feel uncomplete with these body parts they want to get rid of. The woman in the video has mentally lived her live as an amputee although she knows she has legs, so she hasn’t lost touch to reality.

Can you really compare this urge they feel to the obsession transexuals have? Or to people who have longed for getting they’re protruding ears operated their whole life?  They can’t explain why this desire exists but it is so enormously present that they are resolved to undergo this surgery, and if it’s not happening, surgeons fear them to get rid of their limbs violently. Personally, I’ve a very hard time relating to this, but maybe there is no need for us to understand this, since they don’t even get this obession themselves and I’m very glad not to be a surgeon who has to decide whether to do this or not. Simply, because I don’t know what I would do. On the one hand, it is their personal decision and everybody should have the freedom to decide on what his body should look like. On the other hand, this is very extreme and I’m not sure if this goes a little too far, as this is probably not understandable to anybody, so it can easily be deemed psychotic, although, officially, it isn’t.

So, what are you opinions on this? Do you think all these people need is psychiatric help? Or do they have a right to get healthy body parts removed because they are “extraneous”?

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