Some people have a profound dissatisfaction with what is considered an able-bodied state by most others. These individuals desire to be disabled, by conventional standards. In this Review, we integrate research findings about the desire for a major limb amputation or paralysis (xenomelia). Neuropsychological and neuroimaging explorations of xenomelia show functional and structural abnormalities in predominantly right hemisphere cortical circuits of higher-order bodily representation, including affective and sexual aspects of corporeal awareness. These neural underpinnings of xenomelia do not necessarily imply a neurological cause, and a full understanding of the condition requires consideration of the interface between neural and social contributions to the bodily self and the concept of disability. Irrespective of cause, disability desires are accompanied by a disabling bodily dysphoria, in many respects similar to gender dysphoria, and we suggest that they should be considered a mental disorder.