The human mind at times can seem like some strange, uncharted wilderness. We have barely begun to understand many of its mysteries, and it can often seem like some strange alien territory, a last frontier even weirder than space or the darkest depths of the sea. There have at times come people who defy all that we know, and offer us a peek into this deep abyss and its many rabbit holes, offering glimpses and flashes of insight into this little understood realm. One of these must certainly be an unassuming woman from England, whose psyche has split into a multitude of seperate entities, and who represents one of the most bizarre and intense cases of multiple personalities there is.
The woman known as Kim Noble came into the world in 1960 in Croydon, South London, England as a seemingly normal baby, with her whole life ahead of her and her future full of possibilities. Although her parents, two factory workers, were very busy most of the time and did not have much time to spend with her, she still seemed to be normal and healthy at first, with a bright future ahead. However, at around the age of 3 her life began to take a dark and very strnage turn. Kim began to display bizarre behavior, including violent mood swings, outbursts, and personality changes. She would do or say things she could not remember, suddenly find herself somewhere with no memory of how she got there, and generally experienced massive gaps in her short-term memory that could not be explained. It all baffled her parents and caused trouble at school, and by the age of 14 she was being shuffled around to homes for troubled teens.
In her 20s, Kim somehow managed to make a living doing various odd jobs, but those memory gaps and sudden lapses of identity and lost time continued to haunt her. She went to various psychiatric hospitals and was eventually diagnosed as being schizophrenic, but the medication she was given did not seem to work and she would continue to have her strange blackouts and experiences of waking up in places she could not remember going to or in clothes she had no recollection of having put on. She became ever more depressed, addicted to alcohol and drugs, to which she attributed her memory lapses, and experienced anorexia and bulimia, but some of these strange incidents became more dangerous, such as when she plowed a truck into a line of parked cars, and this was when doctors would take another look at her and realize that there was something else wrong with her. It became apparent that she was living a normal life, just that it was divided among more than one person.
Kim was diagnosed with having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which is commonly known as “split personality disorder,” in which a person’s mind or psyche fragments into two or more separate personalities or identities inhabiting the same mind. In Kim’s case, these separate entities have no idea of what the others are doing, no recollection of what they were doing before they emerged and no communication between each other. These personalities will suddenly and without warning “switch,” often with the new identity having no idea where they were or why, creating a frightening and traumatic situation. These switches happen four or five times a day, although lack of sleep or stress can make it happen more frequently, and can last anywhere from minutes, to hours or even days, and there is usually no telling who would come out to take over Kim’s body at the time, leading to the blackouts she had been experiencing all of her life.
In Kim’s case, there are nearly 100 separate people living inside her fragmented head. Some of these include the dominant personality called Patricia, the eternal child Missy, the anorexic artist Judy, who arrives usually at mealtimes and thinks she weighs 200 pounds, despite Kim’s slim frame, Abi, who’s single, lonely, and constantly looking for love, Bonny, a mother with a young daughter, Salome, a devout Roman Catholic, a little boy called Diabalus who only writes in Latin, a depressed twenty-something gay man called Ken, the fiesta Hayley, the Spirit of Water, who loves taking baths, a 12-year-old girl called Ria, the motherly Dawn, the suicidal Rebecca, and many others. Some of them appear to be frozen in time, such as the child Missy, who never grows up, while others have a warped sense of their appearance, such as Judy thinking she is obese and leaving size 14 clothes all over the house, as well as the male personalities looking into the mirror to see a man rather than a woman. These clashing identities will take over, go about their separate lives, and then fade away without the others even being aware that it has happened, and the personality Patricia has said of this strange predicament:
To most of the outside world I am Kim Noble, and I’ll answer to that name. But the truth is her mind shattered into fragments before she could even talk, leaving numerous alter egos to take over. Coming back after a personality switch is like waking up from a nap. It takes a few seconds of blinking and looking around to get my bearings, to work out who I’m with, where I am, and what I’m in the middle of doing. I could disappear from my sofa and wake up at a pub, or a supermarket, or even driving a car without a clue where I’m heading. I don't ever know if I am coming or going. I could switch at a door, like at the doctor's surgery, and think, 'Have I just been in?’ You can't ask, so I just walk off.
I could then be out shopping, in the middle of one of the shops, and all of a sudden there’s a switch. That person that took over might not bother to complete the shopping. It can happen when I’m driving a car. If I am going to an appointment and I'm driving up a hill, the next thing is I'm back down at the bottom again. It's so frustrating. Obviously my body is just not going to get there. One day when I went to get petrol I filled up and there was a switch. So I just drove off without paying. The next time we went back they had our registration number. They weren’t happy but I just paid it.
The main problem I have is memory between personalities. When another person takes over the body I have no memory or knowledge of what happened. Before I was diagnosed I didn’t know why I had these memory gaps. When I'm on my own at home I've lost time when another personality has taken over. Sometimes, I can end up wearing five different outfits in one morning. Normal for me is driving to the shops and returning home with my boot full of groceries I didn’t want... It's opening my wardrobe and discovering clothes I hadn't bought, or taking delivery of pizzas I didn’t order. I don't know these personalities as people. I can't sit and have a conversation with them, which is a shame as I would never be lonely then. I leave notes for all of them and Judy usually tells me to mind my own business, and get a life.
These disparate identities are basically completely separate individuals within the same body, with most of them unaware that the others even exist and only a handful of them even aware that they have DID. This has made life rather complicated for Kim, especially when dating and having guys she’s never met before come over looking for someone else or having a friend of one of the others come over who she does not recognize. It got very bizarre indeed when Kim gave birth to her daughter Aimee. Although it was Patricia who conceived the baby with her boyfriend, it was Dawn who actually gave birth to her, and then Bonny took over to actually raise the child, with Dawn thinking she in fact gave birth to a baby named Sky who was taken away from her. It’s complicated.
Considering all of this, the courts took Aimee away for her first 6 months, but she was returned after a lengthy legal battle carried out by Bonny, after which it was decided that none of the personalities inhabiting Kim actually posed a threat to the child’s life. As for Aimee herself, she has grown up with all of these different people within her mother’s body, and has gotten to know them and learn more about them than Kim herself could ever possibly hope to do. The various personalities also have become used to the idea that they have a child, and have grown quite fond of Aimee. Kim has said of it:
Aimee saw from a very early age all the different personalities coming out of Mama. She learnt, almost subliminally, to accept each and every one of them as a person in their own right. Aimee is not just my number one priority. All the personalities love her — which is why Christmas and birthdays are such fun. It’s not unusual for Aimee to get presents from a dozen of us.They all shop for gifts themselves. I can’t complain, even when I see my money disappearing. After all, it’s Kim Noble’s name on the credit cards, not mine. They’ve as much right as anyone to spend it.
Interestingly, although DID is most commonly triggered by some extremely traumatic experience that causes a person’s mind to fragment to cope, none of Kim’s many personalities seem to remember such an experience. It may all seem to be rather fanciful and the stuff of science fiction, but this is a very real condition experienced by many people, and Kim’s case has been studied by and baffled numerous doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. DID is also certainly a real phenomenon, and Graeme Galton, a consultant psychotherapist at the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in London, has said of it:
Dissociative identity disorder is a complex post-traumatic stress disorder. The purpose, psychologically, is to protect the mind when a traumatic event has taken place. To do this, the mind splits off the memory of the trauma into a separate identity. That means that, in its most original and true form, there is an amnesiac (memory) barrier between different personality states, although some people can develop flashbacks or nightmares. People may just have two or three personalities, but I work with some individuals who have an enormous number. Sometimes people who have experienced multiple trauma, especially as children, have separate identities for every traumatic incident.
In recent years, Kim has undergone intense therapy in order to try and find a stable state and hopefully integrate some of her many personalities into a whole. She has taken up art as a therapeutic exercise and with many of her identities joining her, all with completely different styles of drawing and painting that make it hard to believe they all come from the same hand. In the meantime, the identity Patricia has written a memoir of their experiences called All of Me, and for the most part they have come to terms with their mysterious predicament. What is going on with this mysterious woman? What mysteries of the mind are manifesting here? How can so many seperate entities reside within the same skull yet be unaware of each other? Kim Noble's case has gone on to become one of the most bizarre and intriguing studies on multiple personalities out there, and it seems we may never fully understand the extent of it or how deep it goes.