Psychologist explains how Govindsamy ‘dissociated’ at attack

2009-08-05 00:00

CLINICAL psychologist Lingum Pillay gave evidence yesterday at the trial of Jaiseelan Govindsamy (41), who is charged with the murder of his wife, and confirmed his conclusion that Govindsamy was suffering from a “dissociative episode” and was not able to control his actions the day he stabbed his estranged wife, Anthea, to death at Howick Falls on March 25, 2007.

The specific term for Govindsamy’s mental state at the time was “acute catathymic crisis”, according to Pillay’s report.

This happens when psychological stress caused by “life events” so overwhelms a person that it leads to a dissociation between mental activity and physical action and it temporarily renders that person incapable of controlling his actions, he said.

State advocate Dheelan Naidoo suggested to Pillay during cross examination that on his own version Govindsamy was “aware” of a number of things happening around him, and that the 19 stab wounds Anthea Govindsamy sustained were focused on the upper area of the body where her vital organs were. He questioned whether this was not an indication of a “goal-directed” attack on her vital organs.

He said state witnesses testified that Govindsamy tried to run away after stabbing Anthea, suggesting awareness of his wrongdoing.

Pillay said a person experiencing “acute catathymic crisis” could still be aware of what was going on.

Asked what most likely triggered the stabbing, Pillay said it would probably, in this instance, have been the “simple act” of Anthea Govindsamy walking away from her husband as he said she did.

He must have perceived that as a “final act of rejection” as he realised it was the end of the relationship.

The trial is continuing.

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