What's in a name?

Many people object to labeling this condition of ours. They argue, somewhat successfully, that a label is too constricting. Yet labels are important to give an idea of what we're talking about. When everyone understands the label somewhat clearly, and accepts that it is only used as a tool to frame a discussion, then the label becomes important. The APA notes that diagnostic labels are primarily for use as a “convenient shorthand” among professionals. The word baseball doesn't define and describe the game completely, but it helpful to know that you are talking about one game, rather than another such as football.

Body Integrity Identity Disorder has been around for a long time. Mentions of "cases" in literature that could clearly be identified as BIID go back well over 200 years! But it wasn't until Money in the 1970's that a name and classification was suggested. His classification of the condition was under the general heading of paraphilias, and he named it Apotemnophilia.

In the early 1990's, mostly with the advent of the Internet, a new word appeared, that of Wannabes.

Neither of these labels were entirely appropriate. The first one relegated the condition as a sexualy related deviance. The second one was not representative and outside of the "BIID community", nobody would have a clue what it meant. In fact, in the mid 1990's, we were running a site with the word "wannabe" in its title, and were innundated by email from teenage girls when the Spice Girls' song Wannabe was such a hit.

The next suggested term was Amputee Identity Disorder, which was closer to accurately describing the condition, except that by virtue of the name alone, it excluded any other condition than amputation.

Finally, Body Integrity Identity Disorder was suggested. Dr. First only included those who required amputation in his original definition, as his study only raised a couple of non-amputee wannabes, out of over 50 participants. Dr. First is embarking upon a follow-up study to confirm that there are indeed many individuals who have BIID, but who need other impairments than amputations.

By Webmaster.

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