The third annual Body Integrity Identity Disorder gathering was held on June 6th at Columbia University in New York City. This meeting focused on and was entitled, “Stepping into the Future”. There were a number of speakers that were present throughout the day, touching on various subjects having to do with BIID.
The first half of the BIID meeting consisted of three different speakers, Dr. Michael First, Dr. Robert Smith as well as Dr. Blanchard. Each of these doctors gave very different point of views about different issues having to do with Body Integrity Identity Disorder. Dr. First summarized the findings of a study that he had conducted over 52 telephone interviews with individuals that were self identified as having had the desire to have an amputation. Throughout this study, he found that a person identified as having BIID has likely had a lifelong type of desire for an amputation, most typically the desire for amputation of one or more of the body’s major limbs such as arms or legs.
Next to speak was Dr. Robert Smith who spoke about a book that he had co authored with various other doctors about whether or not surgical amputation would be appropriate to treat this particular disorder. Dr. Smith started out by stating reasons why individuals suffering from this disorder might injure themselves in order to achieve the desired amputation. He also touched upon other types of disorders and compared and contrasted them with BIID. Case presentations were discussed. Eight separate cases were researched by the group for an initial evaluation to be screened and considered for an amputation surgery. Findings were that only three of those patients would have made it through for a consultation with an actual surgeon. After the initial findings the assessment criteria were discussed. Dr. Smith also explained why an elective amputation was no longer able to be done ethically. He discussed his own experiences with observing as well as performing elective amputations throughout his career. Thirdly, Dr. Blanchard took the podium to discuss various theoretical as well as clinical parallels between BIID and Gender Identity Disorder. Dr. Blanchard discussed social issues as well as the history of sexual reassignment surgery. Societal factors as well as acceptance of those having gone through the surgery were the main focus of Dr. Blanchard’s studies, mainly dealing with which concepts were apparent in both forms of identity disorder. In turn, Dr. Blanchard concluded that therapeutic interventions would not have been sufficient enough to gain social acceptance of sexual reassignment surgery and the surgical interventions were in fact a necessary stepping stone which may be pliable for BIID as well.
The final speaker was Dr. Anne Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence compared and contrasted several disorders and dysfunctions and how they may pertain to the different models given by various doctors. She discussed all of the objections that may be brought up by her own definitions and models as well. The last portion of Dr. Lawrence’s talk was geared toward the surgical professionals and what they may be able to do to help this specific population while not conflicting with the laws or the Hippocratic Oath. Various legal concerns were also discussed.
This annual meeting concluded with a short film geared toward the subject of BIID as well as a group discussion on future plans concerning the disorder. These future plans included the goals of several first time programs put in place in various locations to aid the BIID population as well as their loved ones. Other issues that may need to be considered for upcoming meetings were also discussed.
The basic design of the meeting was to educate professionals as well as others about Body Identity Integrity Disorder. Education about any given psychological disorder and effects that it may have on the individual or the families involved is key when treating a sufferer. Having a strong education in the different aspects of the disorder will allow one to put all of the information together and treat an individual as a whole.