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1 year ago
This Woman Fulfilled Her Dream of Being Disabled by Blinding Herself with Drain Cleaner

A 30-year-old woman in North Carolina says she’s dreamed of being blind ever since she was a little girl—so she purposefully took away her own vision.

Jewel Shuping tells People that she had a psychologist pour drain cleaner in her eyes when she was 21 in an attempt to blind herself. She purposefully waited to get medical attention and gradually lost her vision as a result. She’s now almost completely blind.

"I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth,” she says. Jewel also says that, from the time she was a child, thinking about being blind made her feel comfortable.

When she was a teenager, she got a white cane (commonly used by blind or visually impaired people to help them walk around) and by age 20 could read Braille fluently.

And then she purposefully blinded herself.

It sounds completely insane, but Jewel suffers from a condition called body integrity identity disorder (BIID), which makes people think they’re supposed to be disabled.

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“It’s an extremely rare disorder,” Michael First, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University who has researched and treated people with BIID, tells Womenshealthmag.com.

First says the most “common” cases of BIID are of people who want to be amputees, followed by those who want to be paraplegic. Jewel’s story is the first he’s heard of someone wanting to become blind.

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But why does this happen? First and other experts aren’t sure.

“Somehow, starting in childhood, some people have this feeling that they were meant to be disabled,” he says. “It’s very similar to gender identity disorder; they just feel they should have been born without a leg or blind.”

Unfortunately, medication and psychotherapy doesn’t make the feeling go away. First says people with BIID feel uncomfortable with not being disabled and don’t feel fully comfortable until they actually become disabled, which many try to do on their own.

Surprisingly, they don’t typically regret it. “Their only regret is that they didn’t do it sooner," says First.

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First stresses that people with BIID aren’t crazy in the normal sense of the word, but “they understand that it sounds crazy to other people.” As a result, they’re usually very secretive about their desires because they know nobody is accepting of their condition.

And that lack of acceptance can cause issues in their personal lives. Jewel says she originally told her family that she lost her vision in an accident, but her mother and sister cut off contact with her after learning the truth.

But she says she’s happy with her decision, adding “I went blind on purpose, but I don’t feel it was a choice.”

While First likens BIID to gender identity disorder, he says he doesn’t think it will ever gain the same level of acceptance. “The idea of going from able-bodied to disabled on purpose is very hard to understand,” he says.

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