The Minds of Billy Milligan

A little while ago, I read the book „ The Minds of Billy Milligan “, written by Daniel Keyes. It’s the shocking, non-fictional story of Billy, a young man suffering from multiple personality disorder. 24 different personalities find their origin in Billy’s mind. Each and every one of them individual in personality traits, gender, age, knowledge, nationality and physical abilities.

One day, while Billy was in his living room, a swat team violently entered his house and arrested him. Confused and dazed Billy wanted to find out why all of a sudden this was happening. They told him that he was accused of rape, robbery and of the possession of weapons and bombs. The victims recognized him, guns and money were found in his house. But why couldn’t Billy remember doing these things?

Milligan was exposed to violence and sexual abuse during his childhood and therefore has several traumas. To cope with this immense amount of physical and psychological stress, his brain created all of these personalities, each of them with a special purpose. Billy, the core personality, is very fragile and depressed. To prevent him from killing himself or endangering the other lives, the others have been keeping him “asleep” for several years. “Being on the spot” is the state that the personalities call when one of them is conscious or the one talking/ taking actions. But that doesn’t mean that the other personalities are not there during that time. They can also see everything happening, and because some have a bit more power than others they have the ability to “take the spot”.

For example, there is Arthur, a smart man with a British accent with an interest in literature and medicine, that usually takes control of the other personalities and handles important situations. Then there is a Yugoslavian called Ragen who protects the body with his immense strength, he has the ability to free himself out of handcuffs and prisons. Other personalities are artistic, children or take up all anger and pain. But there are also “the unfavorables”. They are criminals, dumb, or unreliable so they don’t really appear on “the spot”. But what would happen if one of them would ever manage to outsmart the other ones and appear on the spot???

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