Four Stories [human myth]

Stephen Cave [twitter] tells us that these fears - death, but his statement relates to disability too - are natural but not rational.

As opposed to being  probably true for death, Wittgenstein's "we do not live to experience death" is not entirely true for an acquired disability because one might argue that one does live to experience it. At least if one does not believe that disability diminishes life, or, if one does not believe that experiences related to it are not part of life but part of death.

There are, according to Stephen Cave, four basic forms of immortality stories, and I will put these in the context of below elbow amputation:

1. Elixir - prosthetic arm.

A dream of escaping death is the simplest way.

An elixir of life promises us perpetual life. We use the vocabulary of science now - hormones, vitamins, stem cells, all can cure aging and death.

The story is as old as civilization however. That also points to the fact that while no one ever escaped death, they all believed in all kinds of elixir fairy tales.

We hear such stories also in relation to arm amputation.

Can a prosthesis "cure" amputation or significantly reduce its impact? For prosthetic arms, the answer will be extremely guarded here.

The true nightmare has come true every now and so often also for me: I am standing in line at a gas station or so, I wear a prosthetic arm of a kind that I have all reasons to assume that this now hides the disability perfectly well - and someone behind me or across the counter says, compliments, it is very hard to notice that you are wearing a prosthetic arm. Gone the elixir myth, gone the disability hidden myth, it would have been nice to believe it just for a few minutes but even that is not so easy.

And so it is that aspect of myth and salvation that lives on in crazy untrue statements combined with asinine pricing schemes such as asking 90'000 bucks for a "bionic" hand like the Michelangelo hand. That particularly prosthetic hand model is less useful for bike riding than a 2'000 bucks Mert hand, far less useful for skiing at -15 deg C temperatures than a 600 bucks rubber hand, despite costing more than four times the price of a Ford Mustang - and God knows that car contains a lot of stuff. It is living a myth.

Having an elixir or a suitable correlate is and remains a myth.

Conversely, people that wear "bionic" hands and actually believe that it works that way exhibit a belief similar to believing in Santa Claus. And God knows people that believe in Santa Claus should be ripped off.

2. Resurrection - transplant, re-growing.

Backup plan.  For those that know the Elixir myth does not work.

According to the resurrection phantasies, despite death, I can rise up and live again.

The idea of cryonics contains that we are frozen and resurrected later.

Currently, the myth of a very functional transplant hand is perpetuated. However, life is wholesome, and some decisions cannot easily be reversed. Transplanted hands require absolutely massive amounts of physiotherapy - so much that one could as well say that the life of the patient comes to an end to a certain degree, and a "substitute life" - by spending time instead of living, behind the bars of "rehabilitation centers" - takes over. The best hand transplant results will see a transplanted extremity being as functional as a defective prosthetic hook. And yet, the general public, myth perpetuators and some science speakers tell us that hooks are from the middle ages, hooks are for pirates and in fact, a transplanted hand is the way to go. The best hand transplant will go along with the most serious of side effects there are - hip joint necrosis, diabetes - from permanent immune suppression. The combination of very limited function, questionable appearance, massive amount of time spent trying to get the transplant going and side effects or other restrictions imposed on life tells us about the evasive nature of this dream.

3. Soul - we can be happy by suddenly ignoring disability somehow.

Upload the real you onto a computer. Second life. Facebook.

Your essence is suddenly not the body or related to it. Ignore your appearance, or declared it as insignificant. See if that works for you. Others still look at you and look at you first but you somehow manage to realize your self in some out-of-body concept.

Disability typically may be associated with a detachment of what one regards as oneself from one's own handicapped body. As if that was possible.

4. Legacy - pursuit of fame, be the hero amputee that conquers.

All you need are an internet connection and a funny cat. Or kids. Or you write a book. Or so. This way of trying to escape death contains busy activities, too. But in the end, one dies - or in context of arm amputation, a part of you dies. There are so and so many amputees that put themselves out there, trying to be that conquering amputee with the hero overtones, the winning aspect, that me against the world message that is always there. We want to ask them: how can you be so strong! How do you overcome! In reality there is not much to overcome at all. That type of handicap is boring and has aspects of an ECG flatline, there is absolutely no drama or hystery, so all one has to do is sit it out. A bit of stubborn patience is all that is needed. Sometimes, trying to get something done, manually, may have aspects of a little wiggle, a cat or dog fight with a tightly wrapped package or so. But no legacy to be left behind there.

We should be very skeptical of any of these stories. They point to fundamental flaws in our thinking as there is no reality that justifies these beliefs. All you may want to worry about is making it, somehow, a good story.

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Four Stories [human myth]; published 12/12/2013, 19:52; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1603667182, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Four Stories [human myth]}}, month = {December},year = {2013}, url = {}}