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Surprising Science

Kim Noble: One Woman, 100 Personalities

There’s Judy the teenage bulimic, devout Catholic Salamoe, gay Ken and over 100 more. Artist Kim Noble talks about living with multiple personality disorder. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The Guardian newspaper in England recently paid a visit to Kim Noble, a painter whose mind coped with an abusive childhood by splintering itself into multiple personalities. The condition is called dissociative personality disorder and today, Kim and her daughter navigate the strange world where one body is inhabited by scores of different minds. When symptoms of the disease manifested early in Kim’s life, the breaks between personalities were clean: Most of the principle characters were free from memories of abuse and no flashbacks ever occurred. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The psychotherapist who initially treated Kim, Dr. Valerie Sinason, calls dissociative  personality disorder (D.I.D.) “a brilliantly creative survival device”. Although the younger Kim passed through numerous psychiatric hospitals, due to the self-destructive behavior of some of her personalities, today the principle personality, Patricia, is well in control of her life and has successfully raised a daughter. Dr. Sinason admires the capabilities and accomplishments of her patients with D.I.D. because, unlike so many others, they are not held back by specific instances of trauma. 


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