In March 1970, Robert Martin, school psychologist at Stan-bery Junior High, reported:
On several occasions Bill couldn’t remember where he was, couldn’t recall where his belongings were, and could not walk without assistance. The pupils of his eyes were pinpoint in size at these times. Recently Bill has had frequent altercations with teachers and peers which result in his leaving class. During these episodes he is depressed, cries and becomes incommunicative. During one of these recent episodes Bill was observed attempting to step in front of a moving car. Bill was taken to a physician for this behavior. It was reported that the diagnosis was “psychic trances.”
During my evaluation Bill appeared depressed, but well in control of his behavior. The evaluation revealed a strong dislike for his stepfather and strong aversion to his home because of this. Bill sees his stepfather as an extremely rigid, tyrannical individual with little feeling for others. This impression was verified by Bill’s mother in a parent conference. She reported that Bill’s natural father committed suicide and that Bill’s stepfather often compared Bill to his natural father. He frequently states that Bill and his mother were responsible for the natural father’s suicide (mother’s statement).
John W. Young, principal of Stanbery Junior High, discovered that Billy Milligan frequently cut class and sat on the steps outside his office or at the rear of the auditorium. Young would always sit beside the boy and talk with him.
Sometimes Billy spoke of his dead father and said he would like to be an entertainer when he grew up. He spoke of how bad things were at home. But often, Principal Young realized, the boy was in a trance. He would lead Billy to his car and take him home. After a great many of these episodes, Principal Young referred him to the Fairfield County Clinic for Guidance and Mental Health.
Dr. Harold T. Brown, psychiatrist and director, first saw Billy Milligan on March 6, 1970. Brown, a slight man with gray muttonchops and a receding chin, gazed at the boy through black-rimmed glasses. He saw a neat-looking, slender fifteen-year-old in apparent good health, sitting passively, neither tense nor anxious, but avoiding looking him in the eyes.
“His voice is soft,” Dr. Brown wrote in his notes, “with little modulation, almost trancelike.”
Billy stared at him.
“What are your feelings?” Brown asked him.
“Like a dream that comes and goes. My dad hates me. I hear him screaming. I have a red light in my room. I see a garden and a road—flowers, water, trees and nobody there to yell at me. I see lots of things that aren’t real. There’s a door with all the locks on it, and someone is pounding to get out. I see a woman falling down, and suddenly she’s turning into a pile of metal and I can’t reach her. Hey, I’m the only kid who can take a trip without LSD.”
“How do you feel about your parents?” asked Brown.
“I’m afraid he’s going to kill her. It’s because of me. They fight over me because he hates me so much. I get these nightmares that I can’t describe. Sometimes my body feels funny, like I’m real light and airy. There are times I think I can fly.”
Brown’s first report noted: “Despite the reported experiences, he seems to know reality, and no clearly psychotic ideation elicited. He is reasonably able to focus and sustain attention. He is oriented. Memory is good. Judgment is severely impaired by the above ideation and his seeming need to be dramatic. Insight is insufficient to modify behavior. Diagnostic Impression: Severe hysterical neurosis with conversion reactions—APA Code 300.18. ”
According to the Teacher, who later recalled the session, Dr. Brown had not been interviewing Billy. It was Allen describing David’s thoughts and visions.
* * *
Five days later Milligan came to the clinic without an appointment, but Dr. Brown, noticing that he was in a trance, agreed to see him. He observed that the boy seemed to know where he was and that he responded to directions.
“We’ll have to call your mother,” Brown said, “and tell her you’re at the clinic.”
“Okay,” David said, and got up and walked out.
It was Allen who came back a few minutes later and waited to be called in for an interview. Brown watched as he sat quietly and stared across the room.
“What happened today?” Brown asked.
“I was in school,” Allen said. “It was about eleven-thirty, and I started dreaming. When I woke up, I was on top of the Hickle Building looking down, like I was getting ready to jump. I went down and went to the police station and told them to call the school so they wouldn’t worry about me. Then I came here.”
Brown studied him for a long time, stroking his gray mut-tonchops. “Billy, do you take any drugs?”
Allen shook his head.
“Right now, you’re staring. What do you see?”
“I see people’s faces, but only the eyes and noses and weird colors. I see bad things happening to people. They fall in front of cars, they fall down cliffs, they’re drowning.”
Dr. Brown observed Milligan sitting silently, as if watching an inner screen. “Tell me about things at home, Billy. The family. ”
“Chalmer likes Jim. He hates me. He’s yelling at me all the time. He’s driving two people into hell. I lost my job at the grocery. I wanted to lose it so I could stay home with Mom, so I pretended to steal a bottle of wine, and they fired me.”
On March 19, Brown noticed that his patient was wearing a turtleneck shirt and blue jacket that gave him an almost effeminate look. “It is my opinion,” he wrote after the session, “that this patient should no longer be managed on an outpatient basis and could well benefit from residential therapy in the Columbus State Hospital Children’s Adolescent Unit. Arrangements were made with Dr. Raulj for his admission. Final diagnosis is hysterical neurosis with many passive-aggressive features.”
Five weeks after his fifteenth birthday, Billy Milligan was committed by Dorothy and Chalmer to the childrens unit of the Columbus State Hospital as a “voluntary” patient. Billy believed that because of all his complaining and his bad behavior, his mother had decided to keep Chalmer and give him away. –
COLUMBUS STATE HOSPITAL RECORD—CONFIDENTIAL
March 24—4:00 p.m. Injury occurred during a fight between this patient and another patient, Daniel M—Injury involved a cut below the right eye. Injury occurred while fighting in the hall outside sleeping rooms on RV3 about 4:00 pm. Apparently William and Daniel were playing. William became angry and struck Daniel and then Daniel struck William. Patients separated.
March 25—Patient was found with a case knife on his person also found a small file on the ward which he had taken out of the wood shop. Dr. Raulj talked with the patient and he stated he wanted to kill himself. Placed in seclusion and suicidal precautions.
March 26—Patient has been fairly cooperative. Complains periodically of seeing weird things. Patient, did not participate at recreation. Just sat alone most of the time.
April 1—Patient was screaming that the walls were closing in on him and he didn’t want to die. Dr. Raulj took him in seclusion and warned him about having cigarettes and matches.
April 12—Patient starts acting out about bedtime the last few nights. He asks us if he is in a trance. Patient wanted extra medication tonight. I explained to patient he should try to get to bed. Patient became hostile and belligerent.
‘‘Jason” threw the temper tantrums. He was the safety valve who could siphon off excess pressure by screaming and shouting. He was introverted until it came time to release tension. Jason was the one put into seclusion in the “quiet room” at Columbus State Hospital.
Jason had been created, at the age of eight, ready to explode with emotion, but he was never allowed to come out—if he did, Billy would be punished. Here in the Columbus State Hospital, when the fear and pressure became too strong, Jason cried and screamed and vented his emotions.
He did it when he heard on TV about the killing of the four students at Kent State. The attendants locked him up.
When Arthur discovered that Jason was locked away whenever he exploded, he decided to take action. It was no different here from home. Showing anger was not permitted; if one did, all of them got punished. So Arthur forced Jason from consciousness, designated him “an undesirable” and informed him that he was never again to hold the consciousness. He would stay in the shadows beyond the spot.
The others kept themselves busy with art therapy. When Tommy wasn’t unlocking doors, he painted landscapes. Danny painted still lifes. Allen painted portraits. Even Ragen tried his hand at artwork but limited himself to sketching in black and white. That was when Arthur discovered that Ragen was colorblind, and recalling the unmatched socks, deduced that it had been Ragen who put them on. Christene drew pictures of flowers and butterflies for her brother, Christopher.
The attendants reported that Billy Milligan seemed calmer and more cooperative. He was given privileges, and when the weather turned warm, he was allowed to go outside to walk and sketch.
Some of the others came out, looked around, didn’t like what they saw and left. Only Ragen, impressed with Dr. Raulj’s Slavic name and accent, took the Thorazine and obeyed his instructions. Danny and David, being obedient children, took the antipsychotic medication as well. But Tommy would keep it in his mouth and spit it out. So would Arthur and the others.
Danny made friends with a little black boy, and the two of them talked and played together. They would sit up late describing for hours the things they’d like to do when they grew up. It was the first time Danny ever laughed.
One day Dr. Raulj moved Danny from RB-3 to RB-4, where all the boys were bigger. Danny didn’t know anyone or have anyone to talk to, so he went into his room, crying because he was lonely.
Then Danny heard a voice say, “Why’re you crying?”
“Go away and don’t bother me,” Danny said.
“Where can I go?”
Danny looked around quickly and saw that there was no one else in the room. “Who said that?”
“I said that. My names David.”
“Where are you?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m right where you are.”
Danny looked under the bed, in the closet, but the speaker was nowhere to be found. “I can hear your voice,” he said, “but where are you?”
“I’m right here.”
“Well, I can’t see you. Where are you?”
“Close your eyes,” David said. “I can see you now.”
They spent long hours talking privately about things that had happened in the past, getting acquainted with each other, never realizing that Arthur was listening all the while.
Philip met a fourteen-year-old blond-haired patient so lovely that everyone admired her beauty. She would walk and talk with him, trying to arouse him sexually, though he never made a pass at her. She watched him sitting with a sketch pad at a picnic table near the pond. Usually there would be no one else around. –
One warm day early in June she sat beside him and looked at his drawing of a flower. “Hey, that’s good, Billy.”
“You’re a real artist.”
“No, I mean it. You’re different from the other kids here. I like boys that don’t just have their minds on one thing.”
She put her hand on his leg.
Philip jumped back. “Hey, whatcha doin’ that for?”
“Don’t you like girls, Billy?”
“Sure I do. I ain’t no queer. It’s just I—I don’t—I—”
“You look real upset, Billy. What’s wrong?”
He sat down next to her again. “I don’t go in much fuh dat sex stuff.”
“Well,” he said. “We—I mean, when I was little, I got raped by a man.” *
She looked at him, shocked. “I thought only girls could be raped.”
Philip shook his head. “Well, you got another think cornin’. I was beat and raped. And it did somethin’ to my head, I can tell ya. I dream about it a lot. A part of me does. All my life I always thought sex was somethin’ painful and dirty.”
“You mean you never had regular sex with a girl?”
“I ain’t never had regular sex with no one.”
“It doesn’t hurt, Billy.”
He blushed as he pulled away.
“Let’s go swimming,” she said.
“Yeah, great idea,” he said, jumping up and taking a running dive into the pond.
When he came up sputtering, he saw that she had dropped her dress on the bank of the pond and was coming in naked. “Holy shit!” he said, and dived for the bottom.
When he came up, she reached him and put her arms around him. He felt her legs around him in the water, felt her rubbing her breasts into his chest, reaching down to touch him.
“It won’t hurt, Billy,” she said. “I promise.”
Swimming with one hand, she led him toward the cove to a big flat rock angled into the water. He climbed up after her and she pulled his shorts down. He knew he was being awkward as he touched her, and he was afraid if he closed his eyes it would all disappear. She was so beautiful. He didn’t want to find himself someplace else and not remember what was happening. He wanted to remember this time. He felt good. She hugged him and squeezed him as he did it, and when it was over he felt like jumping’up and shouting with joy. As he rolled off her, he lost his balance and went sliding down the wet, slippery rock, splashing back into the water.
She laughed. He felt like a fool. But he felt happy. He wasn’t a virgin anymore, and he wasn’t a queer. He was a man.
On June 19, at the request of his mother, Billy Milligan was discharged from the hospital by Dr. Raulj. The social worker’s summary for discharge read:
Prior to discharge, Bill was manipulative with staff members and patients. He would maliciously lie his way out of trouble, harming anyone’s reputation and feeling no remorse. His peer group relations were superficial on his part and his peers were mistrusting of him due to his constant lies.
Staff Recommendations: The patients behavior became increasingly disruptive to the ward program, therefore the patient is being discharged with the recommendation to seek outpatient treatment for the patient and counseling for the parents.
Medication at lime of Release: Thorazine 25 mg t.i.d.
Back home, in a deep depression, Danny painted a nine-bytwelve still life—a withering yellow flower in a cracked drinking glass against a black and dark-blue background. He brought it upstairs to show Billy’s mother what he had done, but then he froze. Chalmer was there. Chalmer took it from him, looked at it and threw it on the floor.
“You’re a liar,” he said. “You didn’t do that.”
Danny picked it up and fought back the tears as he took it down to the painting room. Then, for the first time, he signed it: “Danny ’70.” On the back of the canvas board, he filled in the information it called for:
subject Dyeing Alone
From that time, unlike Tommy and Allen, who continued to seek approval for their painting, Danny never volunteered to show his still lifes to anyone again.
In the fall of 1970, Billy entered Lancaster High School, the rambling glass-and-concrete complex of modem buildings on the north side of Lancaster. Billy did not do well in his classes. He hated his teachers and he hated school.
Arthur cut many of his high school classes to study medical books at the library and became especially fascinated by the study of hematology.
Tommy spent his spare time fixing appliances and practicing his escape procedures. By this time, no ropes could hold him. He could work his hands to undo any knot or slide out through any ropes that tied him. He bought himself a pair of handcuffs and practiced getting out of them using a split ball-point pen plastic cap as a key. He made a mental note that it would always be best to have two handcuff keys on you at all times— one in a front pocket and one in back—so you could get to one no matter which way they handcuffed you.
In January 1971, Billy got a job as a part-time delivery boy at an IGA grocery store. He decided to use part of the money from his first paycheck to buy a steak for Chalmer. Things had gone pretty well over the Christmas holidays. He thought if he showed his stepfather now that he cared for him, maybe Chalmer would stop picking on him.
He came up the back steps and saw that the door to the kitchen had been knocked off its hinges. Grandma and Grandpa Milligan were there, and so were Kathy and Challa and Jim. Mom was holding a bloody towel to her head. Her face was black-and-blue. „
“Chalmer knocked her through the door,” Jim said.
“Ripped her hair right out of her head,” said Kathy.
Billy said nothing. He just looked at his mother, threw the steak on the table, walked into his room and closed the door. He sat in the dark for a long time with his eyes closed, trying to understand why there was so much pain and hurting in this family. If only Chalmer was dead, it would solve all their problems.
The feeling of hollowness came over him . . .
Ragen opened his eyes, feeling the rage that could no longer be bottled up. For what Chalmer had done to Danny and to Billy and now to Billy’s mother, the man had to die.
He rose slowly and went to the kitchen, hearing the lowered voices from the living room. He opened the drawer where the cutlery was kept, took a six-inch steak knife, slipped it into his shirt and went back to his room. He put the knife under the pillow and lay down to wait. After they all went to sleep, he would come out and stab Chalmer in the heart. Or perhaps he would cut his throat. He lay there rehearsing it in his mind, waiting for the house to grow quiet. At twelve o’clock they were still awake, talking. He fell asleep.
The morning light woke Allen and he jumped out of bed, unsure of where he was or what had happened. He went quickly to the bathroom, and Ragen told him what he had planned. When he came out, Dorothy was in his room. She had started to make up his bed, but she was holding the knife.
“Billy, what’s this?” •
He looked at it calmly and said in a monotone, “I was going to kill him.”
She looked up quickly, surprised at the low, emotionless tone of voice. “What do you mean?”
Allen stared at her. “Your husband was supposed to be dead this morning.”
She went pale and clutched her throat. “Oh my God, Billy, what are you saying?” She grabbed his arms and shook him, hissing the words softly so that no one else would hear. “You mustn’t say that. You mustn’t think it. Look what it would do to you. What would happen to you?”
Allen gazed at her and said calmly, “Look at what’s happened to you.” Then he turned and walked out.
Sitting in class, Billy tried to ignore the snickering and teasing of the other kids. The word had gotten around that he was an outpatient at the mental health clinic. There were giggles and circling of index fingers at temples. Girls stuck out-their tongues at him.
Between classes, several of the girls crowded around him in the corridor near the girls’ lavatory.
“C’mere, Billy. We wanna show you something.”
He knew they were teasing him, but he was too shy to resist girls. They pushed him into the lavatory, forming a barrier, knowing he wouldn’t dare touch them.
“Is it true you’re a virgin, Billy?”
“You ain’t never made it with a girl?”
Not knowing about Philip’s experience with the girl at the hospital, he shook his head.
“He probably made it with animals up on the farm.”
“Do you play with animals on the farm in Bremen, Billy?” Before he knew what they were doing, they had him against the wall and they were pulling his trousers down. He slipped and fell to the floor, trying to hang on to his pants, but they got them off and ran away, leaving him lying in the girls’ lavatory in his shorts. He started to cry.
One of the women teachers came in. When she saw him, she left, returning in a little while with his trousers.
“Those girls should be whipped, Billy,” she said.
“I guess it was the guys that put ’em up to it,” Billy said.
“You’re such a big, strong boy,” she said. “How could you let them do that to you?”
He shrugged. “I couldn’t hit a girl.”
Then he shuffled off, knowing he would never again dare face the girls in his classroom. He wandered the halls. There was no sense in going on living. He looked up, noticing the workmen had left open the door to the passageway that led to the roof. Then he knew. Slowly he walked through the empty halls, up the staircase, out the door onto the roof. It was cold. He sat down and wrote a note inside the cover of his book: “Good-by, sorry, but I can’t take it anymore.”
He put the book on the ledge, then backed up to get a running start. He got ready, took a deep breath and ran . . .
Before he reached the edge of the building, Ragen slammed him to the ground.
“I say, that was close,” Arthur whispered.
“Vat ve do vit him?” Ragen asked. “Is dangerous to let him valldng around like this.”
“He is a danger to all of us. In his depressed state, he might succeed in killing himself.”
“Vat is solution?”
“Keep him asleep.”
“From this moment forward, Billy is not to hold the consciousness again.”
“Who can control it?”
“You or I. We’ll share the responsibility. I’ll spread the word to the others that no one is to allow him to take the consciousness under any circumstances. When things are going along their fairly normal course, in relative safety, I’ll control things. If we find ourselves in a dangerous environment, you take over. Between us we will determine who may or may not hold the consciousness.”
“I agree,” said Ragen. He looked down at the page in the book on which Billy had written his suicide note. He tore out the page, ripped it into pieces and threw it into the wind. “I vill be protector,” he said. “It vas not right for Billy to endanger lives of children.”
Then Ragen thought of something. “Who vill speak? Other people laugh ven they hear my accent. And yours too.” Arthur nodded. “I’ve thought of that. Allen has, as the Irish say, ‘kissed the Blarney stone.’ He can do the talking for us. I
think as long as we control things and keep the secret from thtf rest of the world, we should be able to survive.”
Arthur explained matters to Allen. Then he spoke to the children and tried to help them understand what was going on.
“Think of it,” he said, “as if all of us—a lot of people, including many you have never met—are in a dark room. In the center of this room is a bright spot of light on the floor. Whoever steps into this light, onto the spot, is out in the real world and holds the consciousness. That’s the person other people see and hear and react to. The rest of us can go about our regular interests, study or sleep or talk or play. But whoever is out must be very careful he or she doesn’t reveal the existence of the others. It is a family secret.”
The children understood.
“All right,” said Arthur. “Allen, go back to class.”
Allen took the spot, picked up his books and went down. “But where’s Billy?” asked Christene.
The others listened to hear Arthur’s answer.
Arthur shook his head gravely, put his finger to his lips and whispered, “We mustn’t wake him. Billy is sleeping.”