She was an alcoholic, took drugs and had been suffering from a whole host of psychiatric problems since 1989.
But Madam Amutha Valli, 50, kept mum about her medical history, and had even implored her past doctors not to reveal the truth, the High Court was told on Wednesday, at the start of the hearing into the exorcism rites she had alleged were forced on her by priests of Novena Church three years ago.
In their opening statements, defence lawyers for the two priests and seven other defendants who are being sued by Madam Valli, presented hospital records of National University Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Institute of Mental Health where she had been receiving treatment for her mental disorders.
Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim from Drew & Napier, who is defending Father Jacob Ong, with Mr Darrell Low, told the court that Madam Valli was found to be in a "dissociative state" as far back as December 1986.
Dissociative trance disorder, to a lay person, clergyman or priest, is a state akin to possession.
Madam Valli was diagnosed as suffering from "hysterical dissociative neurosis" in January 1987, according to her medicals records kept by NUH, which treated her from 1986 to 1989.
The NUH case notes also detailed her history of entering into trances, including one where she had glided on the floor like a snake.
Excerpts of the case notes were presented in court on Wednesday:
One of them, dated Dec 26, 1986, states:
- "glides on floor, hissing like a snake
- last 1-3 minutes
- slumps onto ground and regain normal consciousness. unable to recall events during trance."
Another, dated Jan 6, 1987, said she went to see notorious medium Adrian Lim sometime in 1984 to get a cure for her trances.
Lim, 41, his wife Tan Mui Choo, 28, and mistress Hoe Kah Hong, 27, murdered two schoolchildren, aged nine and 10, in early 1981. All three were hanged in 1988.
Excerpts of the case notes said she saw Lim twice and drank his blood and went into a trance together with him. She added that Lim gave her shock treatment by electrocution.
She stopped seeing after she found out about the murders he had committed from newspaper reports. She felt "guilty and embarrassed," she told the NUH doctors.
A Jan 21, 1987 case note gave a glimpse into her personal history.
The excerpts read:
- "started going into trances for religious purposes at age 12.
- Trances at religious ceremonies at home - encouraged by mother, family and neighbour.
- Becomes incarnation of snake god and predicts and foretells fortune, past, present."
The court also heard that she told her doctor at Flame Tree Clinic on Oct 21, 2005, which she had asked for a medical report on her mental state, not to mention any of her family problems, alcoholism and depression.
Her doctor, apparently told her that suppression of information would not be right as it would be "a great omission of the truth".
On Nov 10, 2006, Madam Valli, in a sworn statement, insisted that the only psychiatric condition which she had suffered from was stress and alcohol dependency and she had been hospitalised at the IMH. Yet, in IHM's case notes dated Oct 30, 2006, she called an IMH doctor and told him that she "never had treatment at NUH before."
Madam Valli was also seen by psychhiatrists, Prof Ong Thiew Chai of Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dr Angelina Chan of Changi General Hospital in on Sept 3 and April 15, 2005 respectively, but their medical reports of her condition make no mention her psychiatric history prior to the Aug 10, 2004 incident at Novena Church.
It was later revealed that she did not bring her past history in NUH to their attention.
"It is submitted that all these omissions of past medical/psychiatric history deprived both Prof Ong and Dr Chan from arriving at a true and complete evaluation of the plaintiff's actual psychiatric condition," said Mr Yim.