Kim Noble: A legendary woman with 100 personalities
The painter Kim Noble lives in a small terrace house in south London with her 14-year-old daughter Aimee, two dogs and more than 100 separate personalities.
Kim, 50, has dissociative identity disorder (DID). She is, in effect, scores of different people – the exact number is uncertain – wrapped up in one body. These personalities are all quite distinct, with their own names and ages and quirks of temperament. Some are children. Some are male.
It turns out there's a protocol: you meet Patricia, the dominant personality among the many alter egos in Noble's head. With the help of regular support workers, Patricia looks after Aimee and makes sure there's milk in the fridge. It is Patricia who answers the door and welcomes me in.
For her, there are about three or four switches a day.
The strangeness of Kim's story and something of what she has endured is revealed in her autobiography, All Of Me. The book, ghostwritten by Jeff Hudson, is a terrible tale. Kim was born in 1960. Her parents, stuck in an unhappy marriage, were factory workers, and the care of their daughter was farmed out to friends and local acquaintances. The details of what happened are hazy, but it seems that from an early age – somewhere between one and three – Kim suffered extreme and repeated abuse. And at this point her mind, traumatised beyond endurance, shattered into fragments, forming myriad separate identities. The breaks were clean: most of the principal personalities had no memories of abuse and no flashbacks. Thus she was protected from what had happened.
It seems surprising that someone with multiple personalities should be trusted with the care of a baby, but Patricia says "the body" – the collective personalities of Kim Noble – would never allow Aimee to be harmed. And Kim's mind does, on occasion, possess a certain instinct for self-preservation. When eventually she was allowed to meet Aimee, only Bonny and Hayley and the other responsible front-line personalities came to the fore. After months under observation in a mother and baby unit, Aimee was allowed to live with her mother under a care order.
Kim is a case in point. By any measure she – or rather Patricia – represents a very successful adaptation. She's managed to turn her life around, gaining considerable professional success and recognition. Patricia beams. "I am happy with everything."
No matter who she is, there is a common feature that she owns great talent in art. Appreciate her marvelous art below and actually they are painted when they are different personalities.