Body Identity Disorders

Part of body identity disorders is a person’s strong sensation that certain body parts feel alien or do not belong to one’s own person. This leads to an incongruity between the internally experienced body image and the actual external body image.

The strong psychological strain caused by this incongruity manifests itself in the concrete urge to rid the inaccurate body image of the “superfluous” body parts, i.e. the persons concerned hope to attain the feeling of congruity between body image and body identity by means of e.g. amputation or paralysis of the affected body part, and thus to considerably reduce the psychological strain.

The extent of the psychological strain is not objectively measurable, but, to get an idea, the persons concerned speak of a daily time-consuming preoccupation with their own bodies. This preoccupation is very energy-consuming so that other daily activities suffer. The body parts in question are only used reluctantly or not at all, and any movement feels wrong or alien in every possible situation.

Moreover, the psychological strain is reinforced by the shame that goes along with such perceptions of one’s body. The people concerned do not dare to confide in persons close to them.


The cause of this pathology, which is also known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) or xenomelia, is still unclear. Some research has already found possible explanations that could be assumed on a brain-neurological level or psychological level. However, more research is needed to get a more concrete picture of this disorder. See more at RESEARCH.