People with this condition usually describe the affected limb as being “intrusive” or “over-present”, and report that they have had the desire to remove since early childhood, but do not understand why […] The vast majority of BIID sufferers have no other psychological disturbances, and almost always say that they feel much happier when the limb is eventually amputated.
And I also wonder about the implications for human enhancement and brain-machine interfaces. It’s possible to wire the motor cortext to control a cursor on a screen but is it possible to make that extension of agency out into the world a part of the map one has of one’s own “body” (in the suddenly now expanded sense)? What about potential prosthetic devices that aren’t just replacements? Would they induce the same negative response that persuades some people that it would be better to have something amputated? That would be too bad…
In Anne McCaffrey’s “The Ship Who Sang,” shell-people are encased in the center of spaceships which they pilot/are. Shell-people are deformed children whose parents can either euthanize them or have them put into a permanent shell, and whom, in the process, are rewired and chemically altered to operate mechanical and electronic prostheses.
This is sort of awesome, and there’s a whole psychological component of the story (it’s really the main component). This research on the brain being hard-wired with an image of the body radically calls the theses of this plasticity/prosthesis model into question: “Children born with missing arms or legs sometimes experience phantom limb syndrome, suggesting that there is a representation of the limb in the brain, even though it has never existed.”
The plasticity-prosthesis model vs. embodied-imago model. But what could such a hard-wired image be, that an infant’s body-model would be sufficiently plastic to become an adult’s as well? On the other hand, if we know that it’s an intrinsic function of the brain, doesn’t that mean we can locate it and, if not outright obliterate it, at least muck it up a little?