New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Comments/Replies

To Be Who I Am

An Issues Case on Identity and the Body



Author:

Deborah Engelen-Eigles
Department of Sociology / Women and Gender Studies
Century College
debbie.engelen@century.edu

Abstract:

This case examines a rare condition known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder, in which an individual has a persistent and consuming desire to become an amputee. Students apply Charles Horton Cooley’s theory of the "looking-glass self" to explore factors that play a role in the creation of identity and self-concept. They further compare and critique cultural attributions of deviance to different forms of body modification and explore the apparent contradictions inherent in a desire condemned as deviant by society, yet expressed in terms of values widely promoted by that society. The case is appropriate for introductory sociology courses as well as upper division and/or topics courses in social psychology, deviance, medical ethics, research methods, and disability studies.

Objectives:
  • Expose students to a sociological phenomenon with which they are likely unfamiliar.
  • Explore factors that play a role in the creation of identity and self-concept.
  • Develop capacity for empathetic understanding (Weber’s verstehen) as a basis for a more nuanced study of social phenomena.
  • Compare and critique cultural attributions of deviance to different forms of body modification.
  • Identify how the social forces discussed (attributions of deviance, identity and self-concept, empathetic understanding, larger societal values) shape, and play out in, the lives of students.
Keywords: Identity; amputee; amputee identity disorder; body modification; cosmetic surgery; deviance; socialization; body image; self concept
Topical Area: Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Sociology   Psychology  
Date Posted: 05/02/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes


Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes



Name:
Email:
Department:
Institution:
City State:
Comments:
security code
Enter Security Code: