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. By the reasons of multiple personality disorder, he was
able to avoid penalties for the felonies he committed. He was accused of
kidnappings, robberies and rapes.
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, which means that they could get a full control of the
body. 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. Later in the 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.
There were some disturbing questions
brought up by certain rapes. Psychiatrists came to result that the rapes were
committed by Adelena, a lesbian inside Billy. The robberies were committed by the
sinister Ragan. The money was then controlled by Arthur, who later paid the
Still, at least one of
Billy’s victim stated that there was no personality change during the rapes,
and that the aggressor did not speak with an accent, as Ragan or Phil does. In
fact, the personality described did not seem to match any of those previously
discovered by psychiatrists.
For Milligan’s defense, his brother,
mother and sister backed him up with testimony claims of physical and mental
abuse by his stepfather. The defense did not produce any medical or school
records to verify Bill’s physical abuse. However, it did include, the
statements from teachers and psychiatrists about Bill’s odd behavior.
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.
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.
Regarding the Ohio court, I believe
that they made the right verdict. If we take for example the Criminal Code of
Kazakhstan, Billy will not bear criminal liability by Article 16, on insanity.
Billy was suffering from chronic mental illness, as I mentioned before, his
first alter personalities appeared when he was 3-5 years old. It is right that
people who are not sane must not be criminally liable because majority of them
just cannot be aware of their actions and assess the danger of their actions on
society. Moreover, some people may abuse them and force them to commit crimes
instead of them. As a consequence, the court made a right choice by sending
Billy to state-run mental hospitals and providing proper medical treatment,
rather than imprisoning him and making his conditions worse.
Overall, William Stanley Milligan is
a very complex person who lived a very difficult life. He is considered either
as a swindler who deceives society and avoids punishments for his actions or he
is a real victim of numerous personalities inside him, which appeared due to
constant abuse of his stepfather. He was discharged from the hospital in 1991
and died in 2014. Still, many people keep on discussing about his case.
Nevertheless, you never understand the truth and a person until you climb into