Over many years, people have been inquisitive about abnormal behaviours within their societies and beyond. A typical question pertaining to these behaviours is, “why is he behaving this way.” According to DSM-IV-TR, abnormal behaviour is defined as a person who experiences behavioural, cognitive or emotional dysfunction, associated with distress and atypical in his cultural context (Barlow, Durand, 2009). However, the quest for answers and remedies has drifted people from scientific models to traditional ones. One of such models is supernatural.
The supernatural model states that people believed and explained abnormal behaviours in terms of supernatural forces. In other words, abnormal behaviours are caused by demonic and evil spirits possessing the human body. These spirits take complete control of a person and manipulate their perceptions, feelings and actions. Treatment for these behaviours comes in the form of exorcism which is administered by “special” class of people such as priests (Lahey & Ciminero, 1980). The supernatural model is still prominently in some countries and Singapore is one of them.
During the 1980s, Singapore was deeply rooted in cultural and religious practices and this initiated more Singaporeans to believe in gods and spirits. These spirits hovered around them and they were seen as sources of blessing and punishment. When they were physically and mentally unwell, they sought “special” people such as mediums, bomohs and tangkis who could communicate with those spirits in the spiritual realm (Tan, Chee & Long, n.d). The main idea behind this was to establish the root cause and discover the remedy so that they could receive blessing instead of punishment. The popular case of Adrian Lim demonstrates the supernatural practices that prevailed around that time.
Adrian Lim was a self-proclaimed medium who indulged supernatural and ritualistic practices. He claimed to possess powers to cure any physical defects and emotional problems. Women who had emotional and psychological problems turned to him for help and deliverance. Two particular women had the former problems and they sought him. The first woman, Tan Mui Choo, was under depression at that point of time due to her grandmother’s death and separation from her parents at the age of thirteen. The second was Hoe Kah Hong. She was brought to Lim by her grandmother so that Adrian could cure her of outrageous anger. Moreover, she also was deeply affected over the death of her husband.
Lim’s treatment did not consist of exorcism but of other means. The first was ritualistic massage. He would use an idol of Siamese sex god called "Phragann" and rub it all over the women’s bodies. After that, he would proceed to fornicate with them. He claimed that this treatment was effective in curing emotional problems. The second method was electro-shock therapy. He would attach electric wires on the women’s temples and requested them to soak their feet into a basin of water. Then,...