Split – Inspired by the true story of Billy Milligan

Billy Milligan was a US criminal with dissociative identity disorder who was the protagonist of a case that shocked the United States of America in the late 1960s. Guilty of kidnapping, raping and robbing three college students, he was acquitted of insanity.

The Milligan case is of significant importance in US judicial history: for the first time, in fact, a criminal, although found guilty of the crimes committed, was acquitted because he suffered from a mental illness that did not make him responsible for the actions carried out. With this sentence, dissociative identity disorder was recognized as a true pathology and not a simple neurosis, as it had been considered up to that moment.

Dissociative identity disorder requires at least two personalities who constantly take control of the behavior of the individual with a memory loss, going beyond the usual forgetfulness.

Causes of DDI:

  • Previous trauma
  • Intense stress
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • An innate ability to dissociate memories or lived experiences
  • Abuses of any kind

Patients may experience symptoms that would be similar to epilepsy, anxiety, mood disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. Abused patients do not want to talk about these symptoms because they have a link to the trauma, shame and fear. Very often the memories of the abuse remain so. Arousing mental illness during the night or under certain circumstances.

In fact, this disorder manifested itself in Billy at the age of four, when the first personality emerged, but at nine, following the violence inflicted by his stepfather, his mind disintegrated into 24 different identities. Of none of them Billy was conscious; in fact, he felt only memory lapses and heard voices, remaining unaware of the actions performed by other personalities. Billy often attempted suicide: The first time was at sixteen, when he went up on the roof of the school to throw himself down, but on that occasion one of the personalities took control of his conscience and prevented him from killing himself.

After all the arrests for armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping and from various interrogations, the top 10 personalities that Billy had emerged:

  1. William Stanley Milligan, 26 years old. It is the original identity. When he thinks he has done something wrong, he tries to commit suicide; for this reason the dominant personalities keep him constantly asleep.
  2. Arthur, 22 years old. Keep a strong British accent. He is one of the two dominant personalities and is the one who, together with Ragen, decides who, depending on the situation, should “emerge”.
  3. Ragen Vadascovinich, 23, Yugoslavian. Called the guardian of anger. An expert in karate, she is a violent personality and the only one authorized to use weapons, but she is also the one who must protect other identities and take care of their livelihood; He is the one who decides who should take control in times of danger. On several occasions he demonstrates incredible strength (several times he smashes the toilet of his detention cell from the wall simply with his bare hands).
  4. Allen, 18. The manipulator. He plays the drums and paints portraits. He is one of the personalities who interacts most with the outside world, the one who builds social relationships in place of Billy. It is also the only identity to smoke cigarettes.
  5. Tommy, 16. Electronics expert and escape wizard, he’s the one who takes control when it comes to freeing Billy from ropes, handcuffs and straitjackets.
  6. Danny, 14 years old. He has two uncontrollable phobias: one for men (since it was the one that emerged during the sexual abuse of his stepfather, suffering them in his place) and one for the earth (born when the stepfather forced Billy to dig a grave and then bury him alive).
  7. David, 8 years old. Defined as the guardian of pain, he is made to emerge outside when Billy is hurt, so as to make him “absorb” all the pain and spare it to others.
  8. Christene, 3 years old. Called the little girl in the corner, because at school she was often put in the corner as punishment. It was the first personality to emerge.
  9. Christopher, 13 years old. Christene’s brother.
  10. Adalana, 19 years old. It is the only one, among the various identities, to have the ability to replace the emerged personality and “steal his time”. She is the one who materially commits the rapes, carried out to satisfy her need to be loved. When Arthur finds out, he banishes her, categorically prohibiting her from going out in the future. From that moment Adalana joins the undesirables.

In fact, the other personalities are in the undesirable side because they have violated the fundamental rules that all personalities must necessarily follow to have a good coexistence:

  1. Don’t tell lies.
  2. Protect women and children.
  3. Observe chastity.
  4. Keeping intellectually active, cultivating multiple interests and studying one’s own field of specialization.
  5. Don’t violate the property of other personalities.

Billy Milligan died on 12 December 2014, at the age of 59, following a very aggressive sarcoma. Not just a single man died that day, but 23 people clinically.

In addition to the various inspired films such as Split, the film about his life will be released in 2020, called The Crowded Room starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

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