DID and Art Therapy: Background information when reading All of Me

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All of Me

How I Learned to Live with the Many Personalities Sharing My Body

by Kim Noble

All of Me by Kim Noble X
All of Me by Kim Noble
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 384 pages
    Oct 2012, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie
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About this Book

DID and Art Therapy

This article relates to All of Me

Print Review

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) "is a dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control the individual's behavior at different times. When under the control of one identity, the person is usually unable to remember some of the events that occurred while other personalities were in control. The different identities, referred to as alters, may exhibit differences in speech, mannerisms, attitudes, thoughts, and gender orientation. The alters may even differ in 'physical' properties such as allergies, right-or-left handedness, or the need for eyeglass prescriptions. These differences between alters are often quite striking."

In the case of Kim Noble (the name of the body who is host to her many personalities), 14 of her alters have been drawn to art therapy – specifically painting – as a way of coping with DID. Amazingly, each of them has his/her own distinct and unique artistic style. They each use completely different techniques, mediums, and subject materials as well.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy "uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight." It creates a tangible and externalized way of expressing difficult emotions that might otherwise be threatening.

All of Me includes 14 images, all accompanied by thoughtful explanations in the back of the book. For example, the author explains:

  • "Pratt" by Ria Pratt: The producers from Oprah asked if the personalities could paint some self-portraits for the show. I left a note in the art room and eight personalities responded. Ria is the child personality who calls herself "Pratt" and who seems to still be suffering the effects of her abuse. This painting of a child on a table includes mirror writing: "help" and "Pratt was here" are backwards lettering on the walls. The painting also features the familiar teddy bear that appears in many of her paintings. The Naming
  • "The Naming" by Dawn: Dawn uses a sponge to apply the paint and often likes to add a verse or poem. In this painting there are three sections containing a poem called "It is the Time of Naming".
  • "Lost in Play" by Ken: After slapping the painting on the wall, Ken turns his canvas round and then highlights whatever shapes he discerns. In this one he saw a girl with a red balloon and so that's what he painted.
  • "Silent Blue" by Patricia: I don't like my paintings at all but they're quite popular with collectors. Gallery owners tend to like the more arresting or controversial images but when people are looking for something for their dining room it's often my landscapes they go for. I really enjoy painting but the end results of my own efforts bore me. If I'm honest, I usually only go into the art room in the hope that another personality will come out and create something wonderful. I always feel better when there's painting happening in the house. Even if it's not me doing it, I can feel the creativity in the air and I look forward to seeing the results.
  • The Naming

Though Kim Noble never had any formal art training, within five years, her personalities have had seventeen successful solo exhibitions, they have participated in numerous group exhibitions, and she was the first Artist in Residence at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting, South West London.

To see more images, visit Kim Noble's virtual gallery.

To learn more about DID, check out the Beyond the Book feature for A Fractured Mind by Robert B. Oxnam.

Article by Elena Spagnolie

This "beyond the book article" relates to All of Me. It first ran in the November 14, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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