Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper Exposes Wheelchair Pretenders to the Masses

There’s been a silent group of people out there known as “wheelchair pretenders” who’ve been lurking on the internet (and infuriating real-life wheelchair-users) for years. And now, thanks to the Anderson Cooper talk show, they rest of the country is getting the chance to be disgusted along with us. Last week, the show had on Chloe Jennings-White, a female wheelchair pretender with dreams of becoming a paraplegic. The condition is called Body Identity Integrity Disorder (BIID) and no, I am not joking.

Anderson Cooper  show exposes wheelchair pretendersChloe is now 50 something and has yet to see her dream realized. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to be paralyzed. As someone who is paralyzed, I reaaaaaally wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. From feeling trapped in your own body to having to deal with the top three worst side-effects of the life – spasms, bladder and bowel issues and accessibility issues when you’re just trying to be out there living your life, I can safely say the choice of lifestyle is lacking. But I didn’t choose this, and referring it to a lifestyle is pretty ridiculous actually.

As difficult as it is, it’s not for me to judge people like Chloe. These people aren’t evil; I can at least admit that. They were born with this, albeit very strange, psychological disorder (or it can develop in childhood). And at least it’s not tied to the ugly sister of this disorder – Apotemnophilia, people who want to be paralyzed (or be an amputee) for erotic reasons. This means it turns them on to be looked at sexually a para, quad or amputee. Yeah, nutz.

I have to admit though, other than trying not to judge them; it’s hard not to be offended when people like you and me would do anything in this world to be un-paralyzed. When Chloe says she’ll go skiing as often as possible and when she does, she’ll ski aggressively hoping to wipe out and break her back, it’s hard not to be gape-jawed……..and angry. But you got to let it go. My Dad used to tell me growing up that it always takes interesting people to make the world go round. I think Chloe qualifies as one of these people.

After hearing Chloe’s story all I can say are two things: 1) Chloe, BIID or not, just really creeps me out and 2) I’m super glad this condition finally got some national exposure. I was getting sick of looking like a crazy person whenever I would bring it up at a party after a few drinks (“Can you believe THIS craziness…”). No one would believe me!

How do you feel about wheelchair pretenders? If you had the opportunity, what would you tell them?

Photo courtesy of Eric Richardson

7 replies
  1. bob
    bob says:

    my feeling what ever floats their boat, as long as they stay out of my van parking spaces………


  2. Bob Vogel
    Bob Vogel says:

    Hi Tiff,

    Great blog on a difficult subject. BTW, the name of the person on Anderson is Chloe Jennings-White. @Bob–turns out she DOES park in your van parking place. Despite getting out of her chair to go on 12-hour hikes, climb mountains, scramble over boulders, and ski super steep expert runs she has a “slight limp” and has a parking placard. Arrgh!

  3. DJ Prestage
    DJ Prestage says:

    This woman Chloe Jennings is a complete twat. How offensive it must be to the thousands of legitimate paraplegics who live with thier disability every day and would give ANYTHING to walk again. I hope she gets her damn wish and becomes a paraplegic for real. The only thing more disgraceful than her story is the publicity given her by Anderson Cooper and the National Geographic channel.

  4. Conrad
    Conrad says:

    Come Igor. We have a guinea pig for testing. Lets sever her spine, we’ll get all the kings horseman to put it back again. I would like the T6-T8 vertebrae’s please, along with a new spinal cord.

    I say paralyze her, have her deal with all the muscle spasms and incontinence. It would make for great research that can help us paraplegics. Up until now all research with regards to paraplegia are performed on mice and monkeys, they did not want to be paralyzed. Here we have a human that wants to be paralyzed, she will “feel” happy for the first few weeks, then depression will set in, and she will want to return to being an able body.

  5. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    I am absolutely shocked!

    Body integrity identity disorder? Shall we call suicide “life integrity identity disorder” and say its ok to try?
    Or shall we tell child rapists it’s ok they are simply suffering “sexual age identity disorder” or something equally rediculous? Many rapists are convinced within themselves the child IS old enough to have sex and they just know somewhere within them they were supposed to be together. Many self mutilating teens will insist they feel like they should be covered in scarrs – just like you feel you should break your back and be in a chair SomeTimes (you are NOT living as a paraplegic, you play at it when it’s easy, but skip the hard stuff).

    We say they are suffering mental health issues and try to heal them, we ban them from dangerous places and being near temptation, we don’t say “here’s a razor” “go work at a school so you can fantasise” and I don’t understand why it’s ok to say “ok live in a wheel chair”

    People with real physical disabilities have enough troubles without you mentally abusing them! Mocking them, acting like its desireable. Just cause you really really want and feel like u should be doesn’t mean you ARE. This is nothing like transsexualism and I find that very offensive. My best friend had a sex change so she could become all she could be, not to put hurdles ahead of her. She didnt take off her dress just cause she wanted to go to a boys night. She didnt insult anyone in the process, and she certainly didnt self harm.

    Someone TRYING to snap their spine should not be allowed on a slope anymore then someone who is suicidal should be allowed a gun.

    You want to insist it is a real disability, and you aren’t just like my 5 yr old pretending to need glasses cause they look cool or she wants to be different? Fine I am willing to accept you have a genuine mental health issue. It should be dealt with like any thing else in the category – if they can’t protect you from yourself or trust you to take care of yourself you should be detained just like anyone else who is willing to do damage to themselves or show a total lack of care for their own safety.

    I was paralysed after shattering my L2,3 and 4 vert. I fraught as hard as I could and recovered – many dont have any chance. I don’t know why you would choose that life.

    What I do know is when I tried to leave the hospital early I was detained under a mental health order as I wasn’t doing something that was best for my health.
    Why should you be allowed to try and break your spine? Why should people and perhaps kids have to witness something like that?

    And most importantly, why Di you think “this is right for me” is a good enough excuse, that’s not how society works, no matter how many hours a man spends telling me how right it feels and how he knows it’s meant to be like that and he can feel inside it’s good and what he needs, I’m not going to hand over my daughter for him to rape, and I wouldn’t excuse child porn cause it makes him feel better to pretend.

    You’re unwell and I feel sorry for you but I am furious the doctors would let a suicidal and self mutilating individual who idealizes having a disability walk the streets OR post such offensive statements. You need to be protected from yourself, society needs to be protected from your actions and selfishness (there are people that NEED the services you STEAL by choice) and disabled people deserve protection from your horrible hurtful and emotionally abusive attitude.

    We do the best we can with our own limitations and the services available, and often feel guilty about needing extra from friends family and society. You’re selfish and a thief of limited services and you need to get help to get better, not worse!

  6. Laura
    Laura says:

    I suffer from this — and whilst I wouldn’t self mutilate or endanger myself to have my legs amputates, I would love to have it done.
    I am full aware of the difficulties it gives, and I have nothing but sympathy for those who have no choice in amputation. However, if I am willing to support myself instead of getting support from the nhs and government, and I’m not hurting anyone, does it matter?
    Being compared to a child rapist sickens me. A child rapist is hurting others. I only want an amputation – I’m not going to try amputate anyone else after all!
    And self harmers and suicidal people do have legitament mental health problems. This is not. This is simply how we’re born – our brains (science has beem done) don’t recognise the limbs as ours, causing the wamt to be rid of them.
    We rarely tell people about it because of the “disgusted” reactions we get.

    Just like trans people used to get.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] to say this upset the paraplegics of America, who commented on the Anderson site, and wrote their own blogs. One particular guest on Anderson Live, named Chloe, has since been on numerous television shows […]

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