Do you ever see voluntary amputation being accepted socially by the modified community and by society in general?
Voice your opinion on the Round Table topic in the Reader's Response section.

staff member of Modified Mind. Featured in ear scalpelling video on BME.

Unfortunately, I don't see amputees getting cut any slack any time soon by either. In today's society, we are brought up to believe that more is better in any situation. It's this mentality that makes people see the subtraction of body parts as such a taboo subject.

I'll address general society first, because it's the easier of the two: Today's world sees people getting breast implants, chin implants, and other radical procedures along those lines. All of them are trying to reach a (rather unhealthy) image of perfection by adding to themselves. When they would see a voluntary amputee, their first reaction is always "Why would you want to get rid of it?" Again, more is better in their minds. Personally, I feel that the amputee is more sane in these cases because they are trying to meet a self-image that's totally unique to themselves instead of a "perfect body" like all forms of media portray.

The modified community is a bit more complicated; The modified world has gone through stages where others have done nothing more than to try and out-do each other. This has led to prosecutions for practicing medical procedures without a license. When they hear of the amputees, they see it as another thing that will have authorities coming down on them in no time if they show any kind of interest in it. Also, I believe that the vast majority of the modded want to distance themselves for fear of being more closely associated with the term "freak" or "insane."

I totally feel for these self-made amputees. I'm sorry that the world probably won't ever understand them. All this said, I plan to join them one day ;)

young mod enthusiast, staff member of Modified Mind.

In my opinion, there is no possibility of voluntary amputees being accepted into society for many years, if at all. If the general public cannot accept even such (to me) tame interests as genital piercing and implants, it seems unlikely there will ever be a place in mainstream society for discussion of amputation. Even amongst the "modified community" many people draw a personal line: what they are doing is ok, but someone else with heavier mods is taking it "too far".

However, I do think that growing awareness within the modified community can only be a positive thing; and perhaps attitudes will change. To this end, BMEzine and IAM, and other ezines and print magazines perform a vital function in dissemination of information: but I think we need to achieve a society in which someone can work in a bank, or McDonalds, or any mainstream job, with piercings or tattoos showing before acceptance for heavier mods can even be dreamed about.

the mind behind BME.

This is an interesting question, because I believe it yields the opposite answer than most people would assume. If I had to guess, I'd say that mainstream society will accept amputation, whereas the modified community will not.

Most people tend to believe that whatever deviant activity they take part in is acceptable, while anything more is wrong. A person with a small tattoo will often believe that a large tattoo is sick. A person with an ear piercing will often believe genital piercing is sick. A person with genital piercings and large tattoos will almost always assume that amputation is sick. I suspect that by judging others as wrong, they somehow feel it justifies their own "lesser" deviance. It might as well be a worry that their actions will be judged as a variant on amputation -- this has been used as an argument by tattoo artists to keep piercers out of conventions, and an argument by piercers to try and stop implants and scarification. I don't see any of this changing. Amputation is pretty much as "far out" as the modification community gets, so it will always be it's whipping boy.

I'd never suggest that there is any similarity on any level or that there's a genuine relationship between the following two, but a similar dynamic exists between the mainstream gay community and the gay pedophile community.

Mainstream society on the otherhand, while not willing to accept voluntary amputation as anything other than sick, will quite likely be willing to accept it as an unorthodox treatment for a genuine illness. A number of doctors have already made public statements to this effect. I'm not sure if that's acceptance in the way that you meant it, but it's certainly a more forgiving reaction than from the modification community. In addition, the mainstream media, through shows like Ripley's Believe it Or Not, has been shockingly accepting of even the most bizarre behaviors. As degrading as it is, the public's opinion is largely shaped by what it sees on television.

To sum up, the public has nothing to loose by accepting amputation. The modified community perceives itself as being at risk through acceptance -- and affiliation -- with amputation. The public will accept amputation through it's sheer stupidity and condescending nature. The modified community will not, due to it's self loathing and paradoxical closed-mindedness.

mod enthusiast, assisted in Loco interview for Modified Mind.

I think that amputation would only be accepted in the modified community (and I think it might only be accepted by those in the mod'd community that are into hard core items).

It is hard enough for non mod'd people to understand piercings/tats, let alone the fact that someone would want to attach/remove body parts.

I, myself, haven't put too much thought into having any part of my body removed (and I would have preferred to have kept my foreskin instead of having a circumcision when I was a baby) - Though, if they ever have a way of adding parts to a person's body (and having them completely functional)- I might consider it.

former staff member of BME's QOD, moderator of the BME mailing list, apprentice at Stainless Studios in Toronto. Interviewed on Modified Mind.

Ah, amputation! In all honesty, I don't see amputation as being ever accepted by either the so-called modified community or the rest of society for that matter. I don't mean that it won't become a little more tolerated over time, but I doubt very, very much that the day will come, in our lifetime at least, where voluntarily removing an essential, functional part of your anatomy will not be considered psychopathic. (I am excluding genitalia because we know we can cut that off and still urinate, etc.) I know it sounds hypocritical of me to say all of this, but for the extreme majority of people this just doesn't make sense. And I tend to agree. I've met some very nice voluntary amputees...but in our culture, where we all exist, this is not a completely sane activity.

One problem I do see is when people say that the amputee "should never have done that." What do they know? Perhaps the drive to remove that hand is all-consuming. We all get the urge to get pierced, tattooed, et cetera. Many people find that disgusting, which we'd all disagree with. I don't know where the line falls, or even if there is a line, but I can say with certainty that amputation will never become as accepted as its proponents want it to be. I don't pretend to understand that drive to cut a part of myself off. Like I said, the large majority won't understand, either. And where there's ignorance, there's fear. Right or wrong, amputation will never be socially acceptable.

Return to Round Table