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Apotemnophilia: a neurological disorder

Brang, David; McGeoch, Paul D.; Ramachandran, Vilayanur S.

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32830abc4d

Apotemnophilia, a disorder that blurs the distinction between neurology and psychiatry, is characterized by the intense and longstanding desire for amputation of a specific limb. Here we present evidence from two individuals suggestive that this condition, long thought to be entirely psychological in origin, actually has a neurological basis. We found heightened skin conductance response to pinprick below the desired line of amputation. We propose apotemnophilia arises from congenital dysfunction of the right superior parietal lobule and its connection with the insula.

Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Correspondence to David Brang, 9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA

Tel: +1 858 534 7907; fax: +1 858 534 7190; e-mail:

Received 24 May 2008; accepted 29 May 2008

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.