Johns Hopkins psychologist John Money coined the term "apotemnophilia" when he published the first modern case history of the disorder in 1977. Apotemnophilia is an attraction to the idea of being an amputee. This is not to be confused with "acrotomophilia" -- a sexual attraction to amputees.

Both conditions are grouped with psychosexual disorders called paraphilias, or, more commonly, perversions. Just as some people are turned on by high heeled shoes, others are turned on by amputees. The apotemnophile's desire is to be an amputee, whereas the acrotomophile's desire is turned toward those who happen to be amputees.

Although only a handful of scholarly articles have been published on apotemnophilia, a random search of the internet reveals dozens of website and listservs devoted to the disorder. Newstories from around the world have documented with increasing regularity, cases of doctors (legit and otherwise) amputating by request.

In 1998 an elderly NY man died in of gangreen after undergoing "cosmetic" amputation in Mexico. Early in 2000, British newspapers began running articles about Scottish surgeon Robert Smith. Smith amputated the legs of two patients at their request, with plans to do a third.The patients were not physically or mentally incompetent. They simply wanted to have their legs cut off and declared that they were better people after the surgery had taken place.