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Man has two fingers amputated over ‘body integrity dysphoria’

An ambulance. (Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime/TNS)
April 10, 2024

A new medical report shows that a 20-year-old Canadian man had two healthy fingers amputated as the “successful treatment” of “body integrity dysphoria.” The doctor claimed that the case highlights “inclusive healthcare practices.”

According to a case report published in the recent Clinical Case Reports, an unidentified 20-year-old ambidextrous man was suffering “profound distress” from his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. The report noted that the Canadian man decided to have the two fingers amputated after non-invasive treatments for body integrity dysphoria, also known as body integrity identity disorder, “proved unsuccessful.”

The National Library of Medicine describes body integrity identity disorder as an “extremely rare phenomenon” where an individual wants the amputation of a healthy body part. The Daily Wire reported that body integrity dysphoria is often caused by individuals feeling like the unwanted body part does not belong to them.

The National Library of Medicine notes that body integrity dysphoria is often explained as a similar desire to “transsexuals” who want “surgical sex reassignment.”

In the recent case report, Dr. Nadia Nadeau wrote, “Despite ethical concerns and limited literature on [body integrity dysphoria], 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.”

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According to the case report, the 20-year-old Canadian reported having “daily intrusive thoughts concerning his fingers.” The man claimed that he did not believe his left hand’s fourth and fifth fingers should be a part of his body, something he admitted to struggling with since he was a child.

The report noted that the man experienced nightmares of his fingers rotting and burning and even thought about removing the fingers himself.

“He had contemplated asking a friend to watch over him and be prepared to call emergency services in case his attempt led to a need for resuscitation,” Nadeau stated in the medical case report. “Working in a sawmill, he considered building a small guillotine to cut his fingers. … He couldn’t imagine himself living for the years to come with those fingers.”

The report, which described the amputation of the man’s two fingers as the “successful treatment” of body integrity dysphoria, said the 20-year-old experienced “immediate relief” following the surgery.

The doctor explained that the Canadian man was able to continue “working with his hands without any problem,” adding that he reported improved well-being at work and with family members, less anger, and “constructive life plans.”

Nadeau wrote, “This case highlights the potential efficacy and patient satisfaction associated with elective amputation in specific BIID presentations, shedding light on the unique challenges faced by affected individuals and emphasizing the importance of understanding, support, and inclusive healthcare practices.”