Jewel, a young lady of 30, put drain cleaner in her eyes to blind herself because of a disorder called BIID. She says that, since she was six years old, she felt she was meant to be born blind. She says she had a strong desire to become disabled, and this led her to put drain cleaner in her eyes, thus permanently making her blind.
"I'm very happy as a blind person," Jewel said.
Her sad story is very common among people with a rare condition known as body integrity identity disorder, in which healthy individuals feel that they are meant to be disabled. Most of them harm themselves to attain their desired state, others also ask surgeons to help them disable themselves.
According to Dr. Phil McGraw, people with BIID from a very early time in life have a strong sense that something about their body just doesn't belong. Some patients may feel that a particular limb is foreign or doesn't belong on their body.
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Jewel's condition currently is not medically recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, and many medical professionals, including surgeons and psychiatrists, are unfamiliar with the disorder.
According to BIID supporters, those who suffer from it compare the condition to gender dysphoria – in which a person strongly identifies with the opposite gender and feels discomfort with his or her own assigned sex, often resulting in the individual seeking gender reassignment surgery in many cases.
Dr Phil explains the condition.
Amber "Jewel" Shuping also comfirmed to Dr. Phil that she had been legally blind without her glasses since she was 12 years old. She felt imprisoned by her sight, would turn off the light and sit in a dark room for long hours, and never liked seeing her own reflection. She said she felt very lonely for a long time and was the only one that felt that way, until she met a group online that understood her situation and provided a community for her to achieve her ultimate goal of blinding herself.
According to DrPhil.com,Shuping shares her story with Dr. Phil and The Doctors in a daytime exclusive interview. Over the years, Jewel says she would purposely not wear her glasses, and says she spent countless hours "blindsimming," meaning pretending to be blind. She says she would put a sleep shade over her eyes to keep them closed, wear sunglasses over the sleep shade, and use a white cane to navigate her way, even out of state.
"It was very freeing to go out in public and be treated as a blind person," says Shuping. "People depend way too much on their eyesight. People believe that blindness is a disability. I think of being empowered, being free, when I think of being blind."
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, surgery resulting in the desired disability can result in the permanent remission of BIID and an improvement in the patient's quality of life.
"It's your body," Jewel says. "You should be able to do what you want to do with it."
Jennifer Ashton, an OB-GYN, and ER physician Travis Stork spoke extensively on the dilemma physicians face when dealing with a patient suffering from BIID. Most surgeons feel it's unethical to conduct such surgeries, and some just refuse to conduct surgeries on individuals with this condition.
Dr. Phil emphasized that BIID is very uncommon and anyone who is feeling confused should seek help from a reputable medical professional.
"My fear is that people who are going through a tough spot in life are going to grasp onto this diagnosis and harm themselves and later regret it," Dr. Travis explains.
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