In 2006, a 30 year-old woman from North Carolina finally realized a wish she’s had since childhood: to be blind.
According to an interview for Barcroft TV, Jewel Shuping became blind when a sympathetic psychologist agreed to put a couple of drops of drain cleaner in each of her eyes. She recounts the painful incident as follows:
“It hurt, let me tell you. 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.’”
Jewel’s childhood was marked by a persistent desire to be blind. At the age of six she recalls “that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable.” She used to stare at the sun for hours in the hopes of becoming blind. She got black sunglasses and a cane in her teens.
Psychiatrists have diagnosed Jewel with Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). Dr. Michael First of Columbia University said of those with the disorder, “These people are aware that this feeling of theirs is unusual – they know it is coming from within them. They can’t explain it.”
We live in a society that celebrates autonomy over one’s body, and increasingly dispenses with biological obstacles to identity. So, should we celebrate Jewel blinding herself? Or, do you still believe what Jewel did is wrong? If so, on what principle?