Dissociative Identity Disorder Cases: Famous and Amazing
There are many famous dissociative identity disorder (DID) cases, probably because people are so fascinated by the disorder. While DID is rare, detailed reports of DID have existed since the 18th century. Famous cases of dissociative identity disorder have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, in books and have been seen in criminal trials. (See Real Dissociative Identity Disorder Stories and Videos and Celebrities and Famous People with DID)
A Dissociative Identity Disorder Case in Court: Billy Milligan
In 1977, Billy Milligan was arrested for kidnapping, robbing and raping three women around Ohio State University. After being arrested, he saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with DID (See how DID is diagnosed). It was argued in court that Milligan wasn't guilty as, at the time of the crimes, two other personalities were in control -- Ragen, a Yugoslavian man and Adalana, a lesbian. (Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder Alters)
The jury agreed with the defense and Milligan became the first person ever to be found not guilty due to dissociative identity disorder. Milligan was confined to a mental hospital until 1988 when psychiatrists felt that all the personalities had melded together.
An upcoming film, The Crowded Room, will be based on his famous case of dissociative identity disorder.
Famous Cases of DID: Kim Noble
Kim Noble was born in 1960 and, from a young age, was physically abused. As a teenager, she suffered many mental problems and overdosed several times.
It wasn't until her 20s that other personalities began to appear. "Julie" was a very destructive personality that ran Noble's van into a bunch of parked cars. "Hayley," another personality, was involved in a pedophile ring.
In 1995, Noble received a DID diagnosis and has been getting psychiatric help ever since. It's not known how many personalities Noble has as she goes through four or five personalities a day, but it is thought to be around 100. "Patricia" is Noble's most dominant personality and she is a calm and confident woman.
Noble (as Patricia) and her daughter appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2010. In 2012, she published a book about her experiences: All of Me: How I Learned to Live with the Many Personalities Sharing My Body.
A Dissociative Disorder Case Study
In 2005, a dissociative identity disorder case study of a woman named "Kathy" (not her real name) was published in Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America.
Kathy's traumas began when she was three. At that age, she would have terrible nightmares during which her parents would often entertain leaving the child to cry for hours before falling asleep only to awake a few hours later frightened and screaming.
At age four, Kathy found her father in bed with a five-year-old neighbor. At that time, her father convinced her to join in on the sexual activity. Kathy felt guilty and cried for several hours only stopping once she began to attribute what had happened to an alternate personality, Pat. Kathy would insist on being called Pat during the abuse the father committed for the next five years.
At age nine, Kathy's mother discovered Kathy and her father in bed together. Her mother insisted on the child sleeping in her bed every night thereafter leading to a sexual relationship with the child. Kathy could not accept this and created another identity, Vera, who continued the relationship for another five years.
At age 14, Kathy was raped by her father's best friend and began calling herself Debbie. At that time, she became very depressed and mute and was admitted to a hospital. (read why some go to dissociative identity (DID) treatment centers)
According to the case study, "she showed a mixture of depression, dissociation and trance-like symptoms, with irritability and extensive manipulation which caused confusion and frustration among the hospital staff."
At age 18, Kathy became very attached to her boyfriend but her parents forbid her to see him. Kathy then ran away from home to a new town. However, she could not find a job and her need of money drove her to prostitution. She began to call herself Nancy at this point.
The alternate personality Debbie, rejected Nancy and forced her to overdose on sleeping pills. It was then that Kathy was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and given the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder (as it was known at the time). (More on the history of dissociative identity disorder here.)
Kathy is now 29, married, and continues to struggle with mental health problems including dissociative episodes.
Last Updated: 16 October 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD