We’ve written here often about the “Satanic panic”—often thought to have been abandoned in the mid-1990s, but currently undergoing a resurgence. And where belief in “Satanic ritual abuse” leads, the contentious psychiatric diagnosis “dissociative identity disorder” is never far behind.
And so it’s a bit disheartening, but not at all surprising to note that the online news-magazine VICE has produced an entirely uncritical video featuring Kim Noble, an artist who currently lays claim to more than 100 “alters”:
Ms Noble has been making the rounds on the TV circuit for several years, beginning with an appearance on Oprah.
However easy it might be to blame Ms Noble for being a publicity hound—and she most certainly seems to have made full use of her diagnosis to enter the public sphere—it’s important to realise that she herself is a victim, not of SRA, but of stunningly incompetent psychotherapeutic practices.
Many readers of this blog will be very familiar with the name of her therapist: Dr Valerie Sinason.
The making of a ‘multiple’
In a 2012 article in Atlantic magazine titled “I Share My Body with 20 Personalities”, Ms Noble describes her early interactions with Dr Sinason.
She had gone to the Portman Clinic for help curbing her drinking problem, but instead of receiving competent, caring treatment, she found herself being “nudged down a particular path” she didn’t expect:
The meetings came and went very quickly, like so much of my life. I was sure Valerie said she worked in fifty-minute blocks, but I barely seemed to arrive before I was home again. The conversations while I was there seemed the weird end of bizarre, as well. I didn’t really know what the therapists’ agenda was, but I quickly got the feeling they were trying to nudge me down a particular path. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so one day Valerie came out and said it.
According to her I shared my body with dozens of other people.
I waited for the punchline but it never came.
Even so, I think I still must have laughed in her face. Anyone would, if a so-called professional came out with nonsense like telling me there are other people who take control of my body sometimes. …
Ms Noble also saw Dr Sinason’s close colleague and fellow DID/SRA promoter Dr Rob Hale at the Portman Clinic, who spent hours trying to convince her she suffered from DID:
“You are not here all the time. Other people take control of your body. They have their own separate lives, just as you do.”
Ridiculous as it all sounded, I couldn’t help asking questions.
“So where do I go then?”
He shrugged. “It’s as if you go to sleep.”
“Why don’t I fall over then?”
“Because someone else is awake and keeping the body going.”
We went round in circles like that for ages every time I saw him. Sometimes I played the game. On other occasions I wished he’d call it a day.
While Ms Noble continued to insist that her real problem was her drinking, Dr Sinason had different ideas:
It was no different with Valerie. It didn’t matter how long passed between sessions — and sometimes it did seem like ages between our meetings — we would always come back to the same sorts of circular conversations:
“How did you get here?”
“Through the door. How did you get here?”
Whatever the provocation, Valerie never rose to the bait.
“Do you remember coming through the door?”
That’s a good one.
“No I don’t. But who remembers boring details like that?”
“Okay, can you tell me what you did last night?”
“It’s a bit fuzzy.”
Valerie gave that smile that told me absolutely nothing.
“It’s because you weren’t around last night, were you?” she suggested.
Not this again.
“No, I was probably too drunk. Do you remember everything when you’ve been drinking?”
“You blame drinking for everything.”
“I drink a lot.”
“Do you? Because I don’t think you do.”
That was interesting. I’d been thinking for ages that I didn’t really drink as much as I thought. But how else, then, could I explain the gaps in my memory?
So instead of receiving help for her drinking—which can definitely cause memory gaps—Ms Noble is pushed down the DID rabbit-hole, and emerges a fully fledged “multiple”. She eventually becomes something of a freak-show exhibit, parading around her “multiple” personalities for fame and gain. (As a side note, no one seems to be able to say whether Ms Noble suffers from 20 or 100 ‘alters’…not that it makes much difference.)
The Atlantic article was excerpted from Ms Noble’s 2012 book, All of Me: How I Learned to Live with the Many Personalities Sharing My Body, which currently occupies the #1 position in the “Dissociative Disorders” section of Amazon.com.
Writing about Ms Noble last June, HR commenter Justin Sanity stated,
Noble and Sinason have a relationship that extends far beyond the the bounds of “a patient and her therapist”, and this is typical of SRA-DID therapists’ relationships with their favorite patients. The ones the therapist considers to embody their “greatest achievements” as a helping professional are also the patients whose personal lives they are most intimately (and inappropriately), intertwined with.
Other examples include: Ellen Lacter & Diana Napolis; Valerie Wolf’s relationship with Chris deNicola and Claudia Mullen; Sara Scott’s exploitation of her adopted daughter as her “star” and primary research subject, etc.
Such SRA-DID therapists are not only baldly unconcerned about flaunting the extreme violation of professional boundaries ethics evidenced in these relationships, in some cases they openly advocate abandoning the whole concept of “boundaries” in their professions.
This issue of inappropriate boundary violation between therapists and patients is not inconsequential. In fact, it can help us understand the emotional power exerted over patients by DID-pushing
It’s one thing to reject a diagnosis when it’s given by a therapist who maintains an appropriate distance from his or her patients, but when your therapist becomes intimately engaged in your life (and not necessarily in a sexual way), the emotional stakes are raised. It becomes harder to resist their opinions and diagnoses, and easier to give in to the urge to please, to placate, to win the therapist’s approval.
Since accepting her “diagnosis” from Dr Sinason, Ms Noble has acquired a publicist and PR agent, Katy Weitz, who has helped boost Ms Noble’s artistic career through promoting her alleged multiple personalities. Exploiting a person’s spurious mental health problems to sell books and paintings might appear unsavoury, but what the hell—the public eats it up. And ultimately, it helps people like Dr Sinason spread the gospel of SRA/DID…and prop up the psychological freak show biz.