Disorder Makes Patients Want to Be Disabled


Jennings-White made her first television appearance on a National Geographic series called "Taboo," prompting heated debates even before it aired. A spinal cord injury forum had to shut down a conversation about the show because posters became so hostile toward one another. They argued over whether Jennings-White should experience a loss of bladder control to see how it really feels to be a paraplegic and whether some posters were insensitive to her plight.

Last February, Anderson Cooper interviewed Jennings-White on his daytime television show. Cooper interrupted Jennings-White during the interview to say actual paraplegics would find her need to be paralyzed "completely inappropriate," prompting applause from his studio audience.

Despite the hostility, Jennings-White said she's received messages from people who sympathize with her – even people from the disabled community.

Although O'Connor, the transabled.org founder, said he thinks the way Cooper treated BIID as a topic was "a shame," he still thinks it's important to raise awareness about it.

"In the end, it is a real condition that causes terrible pain for people," he said. "I know a few people who have died from it, either through self-injury attempts or suicide."

Despite the hate and scorn so often directed at Jennings-White, Comer came forward to ABCNews.com because he didn't want her to stand alone.

"I don't have T-shirts printed up," he joked. "Really, honestly coming public with this is a big step."

He said he was apprehensive about coming forward, but he hopes his voice will raise awareness and maybe even prompt more research. He even volunteered to be a "guinea pig" if it means a step toward a cure.

"So far, she's been our national public voice," Comer went on. "[I want] to augment what she says and provide yet another experience of this because no two people will experience the exact same thing in life."

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