30 year old Jewel Shuping from North Carolina dreamed of being blind since she was a a child. She was diagnosed with Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) later in life, a relatively unknown condition that makes the afflicted person genuinely believe that they are meant to be disabled. For Jewel that means believing she was supposed to be born blind.
When Ms. Shuping was young, she would spend hours staring at the sun after her mother told her that it could damage her eyes. She even got a cane when she turned 18 and learned Braille by the time she was 20, according to The Mirror.
“My mother would find me walking in the halls at night, when I was three or four years old,” she said. “By the time I was six I remember that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable.”
Fortunately for her, Jewel found a sympathetic psychologist who agreed to pour drain cleaners into her eyes to let her achieve her strange dream in 2006. The psychologist, who has yet to come forward, first put in numbing eye drops before administering a couple drops of drain cleaner. The process was reportedly extremely painful.
“My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin. But all I could think was ‘I am going blind, it is going to be okay.” she told The Daily Mail.
However she did not immediately become blind. It actually took her six months before her vision fully deteriorated and both her eyes became completely unable to function. It was the realization of her lifelong dream, but it was also the last straw for much of Jewel’s family. She had initially told them that her blindness was from an accident, but when they eventually found out the truth, both her mother and sister cut contact.
“People with BIID get trains to run over their legs, freeze dry their legs, or fall off cliffs to try to paralyse themselves. It’s very very dangerous. And they need professional help.” said Dr. Michael First, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and original coiner of the condition. He added:
“These people are aware that this feeling of theirs is unusual – they know it is coming from within them. They can’t explain it. But because of this level of awareness we don’t consider this to be something that we would consider evidence of psychosis. In the world of psychiatry cures are rare, very often it’s about asking how you make someone’s life fulfilling despite their condition.” he explained. “Now the problem of course if you have a particular individual who wanted amputation or who wants to be blind – how do you know once you have done it that they are going to be satisfied?”
Jewel, who is now studying for a degree in education and lives with her fiance, who is legally blind as well, says that she has no regrets.
“I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth. When there’s nobody around you who feels the same way, you start to think that you’re crazy. But I don’t think I’m crazy, I just have a disorder.”