When we think about split personality,
we assume that a person is divided into two persons within one body. However, in
the late 1970s, there was a highly publicized court case in Ohio (U.S.), the
subject of which was an American citizen called William Stanley Milligan, later
called Billy Milligan. Due to the reasons of multiple personality disorder, he
could luckily avoid penalties for the felonies he committed. In his case, the
crimes he was accused of were kidnapping, robbery and the rape of three women.
the process of preparing his defense, psychologists diagnosed that Billy
Milligan was suffering multiple personality disorder. His lawyers took a stand
that he was insane and that he was not involved in the crimes because his other
personalities committed crimes independently from Billy Milligan. There were a
various help attempts by the state-run mental hospitals, such as the Athens
State Hospital, where according to Billy Milligan himself, received a very
little help. Here, in this hospital, psychologists discovered ten different
personalities. Later, Billy received another treatment from psychiatrist David
Caul, who discovered the additional fourteen personalities. The 10 out of 24
personalities were core, determining his deeds and behavior. They shared consciousness and doctors were able to
quickly learn about their existence.
It is believed that the reason
standing behind Billy’s split personality is his traumatic childhood. The first
alter personality of Billy was born when he was 3-5 years old. At this time,
his father suffered from alcoholism due to debts, which was caused by his
addiction to gambling and ended his life with suicide. Three born personalities
were an unnamed boy, Christin, the younger sister and Shawn. The number of
personalities increased at the age of 8-9 years, when Billy was repeatedly
raped and beat by his stepfather Chalmer. At the subsequent trial, Chalmer was
blamed for abusing Billy Milligan. Psychologist assume that in this stage when
Billy was abused, his personality shattered and got trouble everywhere he went.
Milligan was ruled to be entitled to be tried under the law as it
existed at the time the crimes were committed. A new law that went into
effect on November 1 and has since then changed some of the procedures for
competency hearings, defenses and commitments in cases that involve insanity.
Under the new law the defense must prove insanity by a preponderance of
evidence. Under the old law, a greater burden was put on the prosecution to
prove a defendant was not insane.
It was the uncontested rapes that
brought up some disturbing questions. According to psychiatrists, the rapes
were committed by Adelena, a lesbian inside Billy. The robberies were the work
of the sinister Ragan. The money was then turned over to Arthur, who paid the
Still, at least one victim made a point of stating there was no
personality change during the rapes, and that the assailant did not speak with
an accent, as Ragan does. In fact, the personality described did not seem to
match any of those previously discovered by psychiatrists.
For Milligan’s defense, testimony
from his brother, his mother and his sister backed up claims of physical and
mental abuse by his stepfather. Bill, whose gaze often wandered to the gallery
during the proceedings, seemed shaken and cupped his head in his hands when the
incidents of sexual abuse were brought up. The defense did not produce any
medical or school records to verify Bill’s physical abuse. It did include,
however, statements from teachers and psychiatrists about Bill’s odd
When this case emerged to the surface, opinions were
divided in the society. Some people thought that Billy Milligan was a swindler,
others thought that he was a victim of a childhood trauma.
Personally, I believe that Billy
Milligan was not trying to swindle and avoid penalty for his crimes. His split
personality appeared as a result of constant abuse from his stepfather. Alter
personalities were created as a defensive mechanism. Moreover, some of his
personalities were highly intellectual. For instance, Arthur, one of his alter
personality, was an expert in science, medicine and hematology. It was pretty
much impossible for Billy to be an expert in the sphere of science due to his
level of education. Another evidence of not swindling is a language and an
accent. Billy was able to speak Serbian, Swahili and some personalities were
able to speak in Brooklyn and Slavic accent.
Many people were wondering by asking
why he could get some help before. By getting proper medical treatment earlier,
he could have stopped his body from committing crimes. The answer to this
question is that he completely lost his time when other personalities took
control over his body. Additionally, when Billy Milligan was able to wake up,
he suffered from depression, which later caused Billy to become suicidal.