The intense desire for healthy limb amputation: A disproprioceptive neuropsychiatry disorder

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The first mention of a condition in which apparently non-psychotic individuals have a strong, unrelenting desire to amputate >1 of their healthy limbs was published nearly 4 decades ago. Once dismissed as a paraphilia, the condition in recent years has been re-investigated with neurologic testing and imaging, yielding evidence suggesting it may be attributable to a neuroanatomical anomaly.

METHODS

A literature review of data was conducted of recently published studies with pinprick testing, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/functional MRI imaging, magnetoencephalography, and interviews of individuals with a desire for limb amputation.

RESULTS

Published literature on this condition features studies with a limited number of participants. However, the results indicate that affected individuals predominantly desire amputation of the left lower limb, and correspondingly, usually have changes in cortical thickness in the right parietal lobe.

CONCLUSIONS

Further investigation of this condition is warranted, particularly, more research into the precise nature of the anomalous neuroanatomy, biopsychosocial background of those with the condition, and longitudinal perspective of the childhood onset and evolution of symptoms. Large sample studies involving a collaborative effort across multiple sites are required.

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