finally

 

ND

Agony aunt? The September piece ‘God’s priestly fool’ on manic depressive illness evoked many responses of appreciation, of which last month’s letter was but an example. Having judged that the source is genuine, the best way to guard anonymity is to destroy the documents. And now we have some helpful letters of advice and support, asking if we could send them on to those concerned. Except that we have deliberately forgotten who the authors were. If those who have written anonymously want to receive what has come, please write to the editor.

IY self-identity. ND has never been a fan of gender dysphoria (Gender Recognition Act 2004), nor of gender re-assignment on the basis that you are what you say you are. But even we never imagined there existed a condition known as BIID (body identity integrity disorder), for those people who feel uncomfortable with their limbs and, for psychological reasons, want one or another removed, even though it is perfectly healthy. Or (can this really be true?) that a Scottish surgeon performed two such ‘unnecessary’ amputations before being stopped.

One clinical philosopher is clearly positive, ‘BIID is very persistent; indeed, apparently lifelong. So far as we know, amputation is the only effective treatment.’ Another is less sanguine, ‘Once in play, people use [these definitions] to construct their identities, and this in turn reinforces their reality as medical conditions.’

Carl Elliott of the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics: ‘I have been struck by the way wannabes use the language of identity and selfhood in describing their desire’ in this case ‘to lose a limb.’ ‘Why do certain psychopathologies arise, seemingly out of nowhere, in certain societies and during certain historical periods? While it is hard to come up with reliable data, the numbers of amputee wannabes do seem to be rising.’ Creepy.

Successor to Dr Pusey, Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Theology did at least confirm with simple clarity how times have changed. Her General Synod manifesto left little doubt that the old ways have gone. Or perhaps not entirely, for she was not elected.

‘I support the full inclusion of lesbian and gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in all areas of the church, including the three fold ordained ministry, without conditions… I advocate the blessing of same-gendered-partnerships, and argue for the removal of the ‘celibacy’ rule imposed on coupled gay and lesbian clergy.’