When Dawn Taylor walks down the street hand in hand with
her two young sons, she looks like any other devoted mum.
But Dawn, 31, is not like other mothers. She has multiple
personalities – an astonishing 22 of them.
Each personality has its own voice, traits and mannerisms.
They can come and go up to 10 times a day, changing without
warning in a split second.
They include brothel keeper Madam Taylor, five-year-old
schoolgirl Daisy, PC World worker Mary, 60, and aggressive
There are also a millionaire, Scottish sandwich shop owner,
Cornish farm girl, German speaker and a gangsta rapper.
It is Tiger-Lou, a woman about Dawn's age, who greets us for
our interview. But within 30 minutes Dawn is back.
"I feel like I spend half my life drunk," says Dawn, who cannot
recall what happens when another personality takes over.
"At the time I think I am in control. To me, I am just me, whether
that's Daisy, Mary or even Madam Taylor. But when I wake up
and can't remember a thing the terror sets in."
Dawn, who lives with long-term partner Dean, 36, and their
children Connor, 10, and seven-year-old Troy, was diagnosed
with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – also known as
Multiple Personality Disorder – in June.
It followed years of erratic behaviour, which started with
depression after Connor's birth.
Dawn once woke covered in blood with scissors in her hand.
She has tried to throttle a stranger and threatened to blow up
her friend's house. Supermarket visits are not easy.
Dawn, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, says: "I often throw food
off the shelves. I come round and have no idea why I've done it.
"It's like the other personalities are trying to get me into
trouble. Some of them hate Dean and make me say spiteful
things to him, even though I love him dearly.
"I found text messages to a friend in my sent-box, telling her I
was outside her house and that I was going to hurt her. I had to
call and apologise and tell her it was someone else. I felt awful.
"Other personalities even hate the real me. Once I woke up to
find a swear word cut on my thigh.
"The scissors were in my hand and there was blood
everywhere. I couldn't remember doing it.
"The only saving grace is that they all love my children. But that
doesn't stop me worrying about what one of them might do."
Anguished Dawn says: "I just want to be a normal mum."
The former model, who cannot work because of her condition,
adds: "Sometimes, simple things I do as Dawn are a major
problem for the other personalities."I used to cycle
everywhere but once I was riding through town with Troy in a
seat on the back. Connor was riding in front when suddenly I
switched into little Daisy, who can't cycle. I lost all ability to
ride, smashed into Connor and we all fell off. A few weeks ago
I came round and was hanging upside down from a tree in the
"It sounds funny but it was terrifying. One of my child
personalities must have climbed up there but when I snapped
out of it I couldn't get down."
Dawn – who takes sedatives, mood stabilisers and anti-
depressants Quetiapine, Carbamazepine and Paroxetine to
control her condition – is used to people laughing at her and
tries to be philosophical about it.
She says: "One of the teenage girl personalities does cheer-
leading. I have woken up in the town centre surrounded by
people clapping after I have done a routine. My sons think it's
funny so I try to laugh along but for me it's really embarrassing.
"The boys can take advantage, too. I have one personality they
call Rich Lady, who seems to think she has a huge fortune.
"When she comes out they make me buy them expensive toys
and sweets. When I snap back I realise what they've done.
"I woke up once in the living room surrounded by boxes of Lego,
computer games and consoles they had made her buy."
But life wasn't always like this. Dean, who met Dawn when she
was 18, recalls: "She was a beautiful model, full of fun and
"We were so in love.
"Then after Connor was born we were driving down the road
one day when she wound down the window and started
shouting abuse at someone walking by.
"It was out of character and I asked what she was doing. She
looked at me like I was mad. She couldn't remember a thing."
Doctors at first suspected Tourette's syndrome, but the fact
that Dawn couldn't remember her outbursts suggested
something more serious.
Her erratic behaviour began to take on a pattern.
Dean says: "The first personality to emerge was Lashes. One
day after an outburst, I called her Dawn and she told me that
wasn't her name.
"Gradually, Lashes came out as a very angry teenage girl who
didn't like me. I would get texts telling me I was useless.
"She told me she hated me and warned me not to come home
"More personalities started to appear. Sometimes Mary
arrives. She works in PC World and wakes up at 5am and tells
me she has to go do a stock-take. I try to convince her she
doesn't work there.
"When I ask how she is going to get to the shop, she doesn't
know where it is, becomes very confused and comes back to
"Other times she is Daisy, who sits on the floor and draws for
hours. There are other children and when Dawn is one of them,
her handwriting is like a child's.
"Another of the personalities speaks German – which Dawn
only learnt briefly at school.
"Then there is Madam Taylor, who owns a brothel. I tried to
explain to Madam Taylor that she is actually Dawn.
"Now I ignore her because the doctors think the more you
interact with the other personalities, the stronger they get.
Some are far stronger than others and emerge much more
"It was scary at first but gradually the personalities have
become part of my life. It's like living with 22 different people.
Some smoke and even like cigars even though Dawn has never
The illness has taken its toll on the couple's love life.
Dean says: "My mates joke that it must be amazing, getting to
go to bed with 22 different women.
"But what about when I go to bed with a brothel madam, then
part way through she switches to a five-year-old child? I'm
lost. I love Dawn but what we have isn't a relationship any
more, it's a way of life – survival.
"I could never leave her or my boys but this illness has taken
away the woman I fell in love with. People ask if I hope to get
her back. Of course I do. I have to, otherwise I would go mad."
Dawn has just one session with a consultant psychiatrist
every three months.
The drugs ease the problem but she has been told there is no
proven cure. NHS cuts mean the mental health clinic in Clacton
could be closed.
Dean says: "If that happens I don't know what we are going to
do. It took years just to get a proper diagnosis."
Analytical psychotherapist Remy Aquarone, who has treated
people with Dawn's condition for 25 years, said: "Less than
one per cent of the population suffers from DID but many are
misdiagnosed with depression or other conditions".
Mr Aquarone, former president of the European Society for
Trauma and Dissociation, said: "The most separate
personalities I have seen in one person is 12, so Dawn's case is
"She is in desperate need of regular and sustained
psychotherapy at least once a week. It is very difficult to get
this kind of help on the NHS."
DAWN'S ALTER EGOS
THE REAL DAWN
A lovely 31-year old who is a loving mother to Troy and Connor.
This troubled teenager has a volatile temper and swears a lot.
She sends Dean scary texts trying to break off their
TIGER-LILY and TIGER-LOU:
Related girls a similar age to Dawn and closest to her own
personality. Dawn's family are often the only ones who can tell
when she is in one of these characters.
A five-year-old girl who loves colouring and spends hours
using Troy and Connor's crayons. She is Troy's favourite
personality because she likes to play with the boys.
This six-year-old is obsessed with building Lego and
SpongeBob SquarePants – even though it's a family joke that
Dawn can't stand either.
A 60-year-old shop assistant who was made redundant from
her job at office suppliers Staples and now works at PC
World. She was devastated when she read in the local paper
that the local branch was closing down.
Young agricultural worker who claims she has a combine
harvester and talks to the children about farm animals.
An older woman who keeps a brothel. She drove past a derelict
building and said it would be the perfect place for her "girls" to
do their trade.
Millionaire who spends uncontrollably and showers her family
with gifts. She once spent the whole weekly budget on Lego
and games consoles for the boys.
She is a pyromaniac who has an obsession with red cigarette
lighters. Once she even set fire to real money in the wood
burner in the back garden.
A girl who calls everyone "Chaz" – including her children,
partner and friends – and has a strong London accent.
Scottish sandwich shop owner who wakes Dean in the middle
of the night to make deliveries and pick up ingredients.
A woman who switches to speaking her native language in
mid-conversation and gets frustrated when her family can't
These include a gangsta rapper who talks in ghetto rhymes
and four children too shy to give their names. One likes to jump
in the paddling pool fully clothed. And there are three teens
who self-harm and send threatening texts to Dawn's friends.
Read more: Mirror News