This article originally appeared on VICE US
By her account, Jewel Shuping had always wanted to be blind. The 30-year-old from North Carolina spent years "blindsimming," or pretending to be blind, by wearing dark glasses and using a cane. As a child, she'd stare into the sun, hoping to cause damage to her eyes; by the time she was 20, she'd taught herself braille.
So when Shuping found a psychologist who agreed to help her fulfill her goal, she jumped at the chance. In an interview with Barcroft TV, Shuping claims the psychologist administered numbing eyedrops before adding a couple of drops of drain cleaner to each eye, damaging them irreparably.
It took six months for her sight to fully deteriorate; eventually, one of her eyes had to be removed. Shuping has been blind ever since.
Shuping has body integrity identity disorder, a controversial condition in which able-bodied people believe they are meant to be disabled. Shuping believes "this is the way I was supposed to be born," and has identified with the blind community since childhood. There is no cure for body integrity identity disorder, and the practice of helping a person intentionally disable herself is ethically contentious. For her part, Shuping says, "I went blind on purpose, but I don't feel it was a choice."
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