by Tarique Ejaz
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or more popularly known as Multiple Personality Disorder is one of the rarest kind of mental illness that can inflict a person. It has often been confused with schizophrenia but the simplest distinction lies in the fact that in schizophrenia, the patient concerned does not experience loss of time or undesirable unconsciousness when the delusions or hysteria sets in. Over the years, there are many prominent cases in such anomalies of the functioning of the mind that has been witnessed and today we as a society and a scientifically progressive one as such, know more about such ailments and their treatment/diagnosis than we did probably a century ago. Billy Milligan along with Sybil continues to remain a controversial figure in the field of mental health ever since his condition came to light and the story of a man plagued with personalities, not of his own conscious creation, became one of intrigue to one and all.
“A multiple personality is officially classified as a neurosis and not a psychosis.
Multiples are not insane.”
The Minds of Billy Milligan was authored by Daniel Keyes and the first edition was published in the October of 1981. It captures the actual story of a terminally ill person whose mental-health became the talk of the town. (Rather States, considering the place and situation he was in then) From the struggles in his early life to the crimes certain personalities or people of his mental family had committed to the unending fight towards becoming a person to be accepted in society, the novel is a journal carrying the intricate details of the man that housed not 10 or 15 or 20 personalities (which is still more than the average number of personalities required to be listed as one suffering from DID) but a whopping 24 personalities.
This man was listed as a normal criminal before he was arrested in the October of 1977 on the charge of having raped and robbed three girls studying and working in and around the Ohio University Campus. The officers were confused when they apprehended him and so were the victims who tried to describe his unusual habits and comport. Reason being that they were facing him when he was not in control of which personality became dominant. A concept we shall try to deal with in this article itself. Within a few weeks of his arrest, his mental instability became evident and from there one thing led to another and Billy Milligan became the first person to be found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity.’ A feat which only ended up taking this case to a level of insane publicity and media coverage.
Let us deal with the aspects of The Minds of Billy Milligan which makes it such a compelling story and apparently it is an authentic one, if I decide to take Sybil’s controversial-authenticity into account.