The Mystery Of Billy Milligan's Multiple IQs

The sad, terrible, and perplexing case of Billy Milligan is one in which the story of the reported perpetrator of violent crimes overshadows the victims of those crimes. We see that often with serial killers, murderous dictators, and even parents who murder their families. For Milligan, his story captured the public interest because, according to the Associated Press, he was likely the first person to use multiple personality disorder as a defense. 

It was alleged that he raped four women in Ohio and kidnapped and robbed three of them in 1977,  according to The New York Times — though some reports say he raped three women and not four — yet he was acquitted on the basis that one of his other personalities did the crime. During his trial, it was said that Mulligan's brain housed nine other fractured personalities. In subsequent years, the number reportedly grew to 24 distinct personalities, according to WBNS.

Time reported that, possibly because of childhood abuse, his personality split in "a desperate attempt to handle conflicting emotions by parceling them out to different 'people' and is associated with a severely warped childhood." In 1978, two psychologists got to know the various personalities, eight male and two female, ranging in age from 3 years old to 23. According to Time, each personality had different "voice patterns," some had foreign accents, their facial expressions were different, and they even tested at different IQ levels.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The IQs of Milligan's split personalities ranged from 80 to 130

According to a 1981 New York Times article, the IQ ranges for Billy Milligan's various personalities ranged from 80 to 130. Science Trends reports that an intelligence quotient of 80 is considered lower than average and may be "indicative of dullness." A score of 130 means a person has "superior intelligence" or is "gifted." Yet, the Columbus Monthly wrote that there were even reports that someone in there, maybe Billy, had a genius IQ of 150, but those reports came from the defense and were largely unsubstantiated. However, the Columbus Monthly added that the intellectual member of Milligan's personalities, Arthur, declined to take the IQ test

As The New York Times reported, "an assortment of experts" were baffled by not only Milligan's varying level of IQ scores but also the talents of some of the personalities, who painted portraits and landscapes, and drew creepy yet artful sketches, as can be seen at The Columbus Dispatch.

Still, Milligan, as the personality "Adelena," a lesbian, purportedly raped a string of women. Regardless of what personality assaulted those women, it was allegedly Milligan's body that physically did it, leading a relative of one of the victims to call the defense "bulls***," per the Columbus Monthly.

Though Milligan was acquitted, according to the Associated Press, he still went to a psychiatric hospital and was released in 1988, but continued outpatient care. He died in 2014 of cancer at the age of 59. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.