Three requirements for BIID treatment

In considering possible therapies and treatments for BIID, I have been trying to determine what functions effective BIID treatment must perform. I have come to the conclusion that there are three requirements for BIID treatment to be effective, and that these relate closely to the three ways in which identity is determined:

  • One’s state of being
  • The way one experiences oneself
  • The way one is experienced by others

Thus effective BIID treatment must allow the sufferer to:

  • Take on the physical state of having the required disability
  • Experience oneself as having the required disability
  • Be experienced by others as having the required disability

I’m going to look more in depth at these and then look at how potential treatments relate to these criteria.Read More »

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Why wheelchairs are triggering

As regular readers of my blog will know, my particular BIID variant concerns blindness, not paraplegia. So why are wheelchairs triggering to me? Why does seeing someone in a wheelchair, or talking about wheelchairs, make all my BIID feelings return?

I have spent considerable time contemplating this, and I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of different reasons:

When I read about paralysis-variant BIID sufferers, I draw comparisons with my own feelings about blindness

This is perhaps the most obvious one. In reality, the wheelchair has nothing to do with it but what’s actually going on is that I’m reading about their feelings about paralysis and their experience of being in a wheelchair, and I think about my feelings about blindness and my experience with pretending to be blind. I read their account of getting their first wheelchair, and I think about how I felt when I got my white cane. In short, reading about other BIID sufferers – whatever variant – reminds me of my own feelings, for better or for worse.

Seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID

This is an extension of the previous situation. Because most of the BIID literature concerns wheelchair “wannabes”, either because of amputation or because of paraplegia, one who reads a lot of BIID literature starts to associate wheelchairs with BIID. So seeing a wheelchair user reminds me of BIID, which reminds me of my feelings.

As a BIID sufferer, I am a lot more aware of disability issues

As someone with BIID, I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about disability in general. When I’m in a public place, I think about the accessibility issues that people with different disabilities – not just blindness – may have. Furthermore, I am a lot more aware of disability issues because I have read a lot about the issues faced by both naturally disabled people and disability pretenders. And for me, disability is strongly linked with BIID, and thinking about disability tends to remind me of BIID. So seeing or talking about wheelchairs (or any other disability or assistive aid or anything related to disability in general) is likely to remind me of BIID.

A Blind Legend game review

Sometime during the first half of last year, I came across a new video game being developed for iOS, Android, and more recently Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X (the desktop versions were not available at the time of writing so please note that this review focuses on the mobile versions only). Unlike almost every other video game, it was intended to be played using sound only, making it accessible to blind players. Furthermore, the main character in the game – and the character which the player plays as – is in fact blind, and as someone with an interest in technology, an interest in accessible software for the blind, and considerable experience with pretending to be blind in real life, I was very interested in the game and intended to play it as soon as it was released, which was supposed to be some time in October last year. It was released, I believe, on time, although it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally got round to downloading it, and only this morning did I get a chance to play the first few scenes.

I’d like to start off by saying that the game is as impressive as I was hoping it would be. The environments and game play feel incredibly realistic and immersive, and the player gets into the first-person role quite quickly. This is one game that you’ll definitely want to have plenty of time to try out.Read More »

Self-harm, play piercing, and endorphin regulation

A lot of aspies self-harm. Even more used to, until they were told to stop by either their parents, their therapists, or their inner conscience. Most of those that do wouldn’t admit to doing it. But yet they all feel the need to, and they all carry on doing it even when they want to stop. They like the feeling of pain. They need the feeling of pain, and the mental state that it brings with it. And it truly helps them to feel better.

Then you get the neurotypicals who poke needles through their skin because they like the way it feels. They call it play piercing, and they say that they not only enjoy the physical feeling but that it gives them this intense rush of happiness inside, which gets ever increasingly intense as they add more and more needles, sometimes hundreds all over their body.

What do these have in common? They’re both in some way penetrating their bodies in a way that causes pain. And they both like that feeling of pain. But it’s not just the pain that they’re after; it’s the brain’s response to the pain that they associate with the pain, and which makes them seek more pain. A sensation of pain causes the brain to release chemicals called endorphins, and the endorphins inhibit the transmission of the pain sensation. In short, endorphins are natural painkillers, which the brain releases in response to pain. So by causing pain intentionally, one can intentionally cause the release of endorphins.

But it’s not the painkilling aspect of endorphins that self-harmers and play piercers seek. Endorphins have other effects too, and one of those other effects is that they invoke a feeling of happiness. In fact, endorphins are the chemicals that control happiness – when we’re in a situation that makes us happy, our brain releases endorphins and that causes us to experience happiness.

So by intentionally causing oneself pain, one can intentionally trigger the release of endorphins, which will make one feel happier. Indeed the experience of happiness resulting from self-harm does not feel the same as true happiness, but superficially it is similar and it is similar enough for both groups of people to keep wanting it over and over, just as one wants to feel happy.

So what the play piercers are doing is triggering an intense endorphin “rush”, leading to a sudden feeling of happiness, which they enjoy. And what the self-harmers are doing is releasing endorphins into their body to make up for the absence of other happiness.

Here then is the link between self-harm and depression: depression either causes or comes as a result of a lack of endorphins. In either case, increasing the concentration of endorphins in the brain will help the depressed person to feel better. By self-harming, the depressed person feels a little better, and can continue getting through life. Here, too, is the link between self-harm and Asperger’s: aspies tend to feel depressed easily as a result of their more intense emotions. By self-harming, they can balance out their depression and feel a little more positive about life.

So let’s put the play piercers aside now and think about self-harm and depression: by intentionally releasing endorphins, one can reduce depression, thus endorphins can be considered a kind of natural anti-depressant, and self-harm can be considered a natural way to regulate one’s endorphin level to keep oneself from sinking too deep into depression. See what I did there? Yes, self-harm can be used to manage depression.

And that’s the point here: we need to stop thinking of self-harm as a negative behaviour and instead start viewing it as the body’s natural response to depression. Is it a better anti-depressant than medication? Is it better to let a depressed person manage their depression themselves, through self-harm, as necessary? Is self-harm actually a protection mechanism, just like shivering when one is cold, rather than a way to mutilate oneself out of hate for one’s own body? The truth is, we don’t know. And we won’t know until more research is done. But that research won’t get done until we stop viewing self-harm as something to be stopped as soon as possible.

The fact that the depressed person instinctively turns to self-harm as a way of dealing with their depression tells me that it’s supposed to work as a way to regulate one’s emotions.