Is The Crowded Room based on a true story?

The latest Apple TV+ drama, The Crowded Room follows a young man getting arrested for a shocking crime and confessing his past and unraveling his own psyche to a professor.

Danny Sullivan is a young man who’s arrested for a public shooting and brought in for questioning with Professor Rya, who finds his case peculiar for many reasons, denying her colleagues’ theories that he’s a serial killer.

As her line of questioning proceeds, more and more inexplicable details emerge, as he remains apprehensive about much more, whether it be regarding the characters in his life and accounts of events, or regarding the manner said events transpired.

The book that inspired it

The Crowded Room is loosely based on the 1981 non-fiction novel by author Daniel Keyes titled The Minds of Billy Milligan.

However, the Apple TV+ miniseries only lightly borrows from the book, instead of being a strict adaptation. It becomes evident to those who’ve read the book and saw the first three episodes of the miniseries.

A key difference right off the bat is the charges that Danny Sullivan is booked for in the series premiere, as opposed to the crimes Billy Milligan was arrested for.

What transpired in the true story

The Minds of Billy Milligan is based on the true story of the titular man who came to be the first-ever defendant deemed not guilty by the court because of his dissociative identity disorder.

He was arrested for robbery as well as kidnapping and rape of three women in 1977. He was eventually arrested but after he was sent for a psychiatric evaluation, he was determined to be suffering from dissociative identity disorder.

The Crowded Room
Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan in The Crowded Room (Image source: Apple TV+)

He claimed that a man committed robbery while a woman committed the rapes, with the doctors ruling that they are just two of the total 10 of the personalities that reside within Milligan due to his condition, borne out of the abuse that he had allegedly received at the hands of his father when he was a child.

How it panned out in real life

In 1978, Milligan was actually acquitted by the court as it ruled that the crimes came about as a result of insanity. He was later institutionalized for several years before he’d break out of a psychiatric hospital.

However, the police would nab him again and put him in another psychiatric hospital where he’d stay until the doctors would discharge him, after diagnosing him with one unified personality that’s not prone to the violent eruptions and tendencies like in the past.

In 2014, at the age of 59, Billi Milligan died of cancer. Whether a similar fate awaits Danny Sullivan in the Apple TV+ drama is a question only time can answer.

Also Read: The Crowded Room episodes 1, 2 & 3 recaps & review

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