Healthy Woman Dreams of Becoming Paralyzed from the Waist Down

Being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives is most people’s idea of hell, but not for Chloe Jennings-White. A 57-year-old chemist from Salt Lake City, Utah, has an unnatural desire to become a paraplegic (paralyzed from the waist down).

Chloe lives the life of a disabled person. She moves around in a wheelchair and wears long leg braces that lock at the knee to enable her to ambulate with crutches. But when she needs to go up or down a flight of stairs, she simply stands up, removes her braces and walks like a normal person. Like most paralyzed people, she loves outdoor activities, only instead of using specialized equipment to enable such activities, she simply goes on 12-hour hikes in the woods, skies down dangerous slopes, climbs mountain peaks, like a normal person. Chloe Jennings-White isn’t physically impaired, she just likes to feel like she is. In 2008, doctors diagnosed her with BIID (Body Integrity identity Disorder), a serious psychological disorder that causes sufferers to  feel they would be happier living as amputees or paraplegics. To resist the urges of damaging her spine and fulfilling her desire of becoming paralyzed, doctors suggested she use a wheelchair and special braces. Being able to spend most of her time as a paraplegic has been a massive relief for Chloe, but she admits to sometimes fantasizing about being an accident or a car crash that would truly damage her legs.


Photo: Jen Longhurst / Beyond Productions – National Geographic Taboo

Ever since she was a little girl, Chloe dreamed about becoming paralyzed below the waist. She had an aunt who had become a paraplegic in her 20’s following a biking accident, so at age nine she climbed her bike and rode it off a tall wooden stage she had set up in a local park, with the sole intention of crashing and breaking her back. She just had an overwhelming desire to be like her aunt Olive, and she didn’t know there was anything wrong with that. Only she landed on her neck with the weight of the bike on top of her, and that’s when she realized such dangerous stunts could leave her paralyzed from the neck down, something that she did not want. When she was 10-years-old, Chloe discovered bandaging a stiff piece of wood to both her legs made her feel a lot better. She new her desires were much different than everyone else’s, so she pretended to be a paraplegic behind close doors.


Photo: Jen Longhurst / Beyond Productions – National Geographic Taboo

Chloe studied chemistry at Cambridge University, and it was while working at the Stanford Research Institute that the BIID really started to take over her. She fantasized about getting back on her childhood bike and finishing the job and driving into a brick wall on her way home. Still, she managed to control her urges until she developed fibromyalgia (pain and tenderness in the muscles, tendons and joints), at 31. It forced her to give up activities she loved doing, like playing tennis, but it also finally gave her an excuse to wear leg braces in public. She never told anyone about her weird desires thinking they would consider her crazy. She herself thought she was insane just thinking about such things. It wasn’t until she finally came clean about her strange urges with her partner, Danielle, and started going to therapy that Chloe realized there was no one to blame for what she had, her brain was just wired a different way.


Chloe Jennings-White started using a wheelchair to resist the urge of making herself paraplegic and it helped a lot, but it didn’t curb her desire of one day losing feeling in her legs. She even asked a doctor about a surgery that could make it happen. He told her finding a surgeon willing to sever her spinal cord was probably impossible, but some doctors might be able to provide relief by cutting her sciatic and femoral nerves. For now, she continues to live like a paraplegic, by spending around 12 hours a day in a wheelchair, ditching it for long periods of time only when she goes hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. She suffered a severe skiing accident in 2006 which damaged her spine to some extent and doctors have told her that if she keeps practicing both skiing and hiking she risk actually becoming paralyzed. Unfortunately, that only motivated her to keep doing them.

The BIID sufferer says she gets all kinds of angry comments from people who consider her a fraud, but they don’t fully understand her condition. Using the wheelchair despite her ability to move like a normal person saved her life.

Sources:, The Roho Group, National Geographic Taboo