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Mysterious Creatures

Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall, Daryl Fishwick
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Lisa's father Bill arranges bottles of pills on the nightstand. Close up of stacked tablets. (0:01)

Bill and Lisa's mother Wendy in a hospital room discuss the failure of their apparent suicide attempt by overdose. (0:02)

Wendy asks social worker Anne, "Are you still wondering why we tried to finish ourselves off?"
Wendy explains to Anne,  "I'm not allowed to touch any of her things because I'm covered in germs."
She says Lisa has ''been like this" "All her life. She got much worse in her teens. Now she's 32."
Bill: "She's obsessed with shoes, hundreds of them." (0:04)

His lawyer tells Bill, "Well I'll obviously commission psychiatric reports..." (0:06)

A psychiatrist (?) tells Lisa and her parents, "It's clear that she has severe anxiety."
Lisa: "I'm not mad."
"I've noted that Lisa dislikes physical contact, that she has food fads and special routines... difficulty noticing how other people are feeling."
Wendy: "The last doctor we saw said that she had a Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Psychiatrist: "Yes, I'd agree with that diagnosis, but I think I can be a little more specific."
Lisa: "I'm not autistic, OK. Autistics are stupid, and they can't talk, and they all look like this."
Psychiatrist: "I've told Lisa that I believe she has atypical Asperger's syndrome which is commonly thought of as a mild form of autism... Asperger's patients have a problem with nonverbal communication, with interpreting other people's cues." (0:07)

Lisa asks Wendy, "Do you want me to kill myself?"
Lisa: "I've got no life. I might as well kill myself." (0:10)

Lisa lies in the street screaming "Help me!"
She pounds on the window of a neighbor: "I wish I was dead."
Lisa tells Wendy: "I'm gonna do it. I am. I'm gonna throw myself in the river." (0:13)

Psychiatrist Dr. Yorke tells Lisa, "These papers can authorize your compulsory admission to the hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act." (0:15)

Lisa in the day room of a psychiatric hospital. (0:17)

Psychiatric patients in hospital. (0:20)

Dr. Yorke tells Lisa, "You know the point of the section has been for us to assess whether your behavior problems are caused by mental illness."
Lisa: "But Asperger's isn't a mental illness, is it? It's a mental handicap... I'm just depressed."
Dr. Yorke: "I'm not sure yet about this Asperger's diagnosis. But if you showed any of the physical symptoms associated with clinical depression, I would have prescribed antidepressants."
Lisa: "But I'm not on any medication."
Dr. Yorke: "That's because you're not depressed." (0:21)

Meeting with other staff, Dr. Yorke says, "She dislikes her father because she wants her mother to herself."
Female staff member: "They infantilize her."
"Responding to the boundaries we set in."
Dr. Yorke: "I'm beginning to wonder if her parents have ever set any proper boundaries for her at all." (0:22)

Hospital day room. (0:24)

Family meeting with Dr. Yorke and female staff member:
Bill: "The school phobia... obsession with shoes."
Dr. Yorke tells Bill, "Sometimes definite diagnosis takes time."
Bill: "My diagnosis is that Lisa is insane." (0:29)

Wendy tells Bill, "They're threatening to take me off my lovely morphine today."
Bill: "It's a residential place in North Wales with lots of other autistics..." (0:33)

Lisa's attorney Nicholas tell the tribunal, "Lisa Ainscow is not suffering from mental illness, psychopathic or personality disorder, mental impairment or severe mental impairment."
Tribunal chairman: "Your consultant seems to no longer support the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome."
Dr. Ramesh: "Dr. Yorke's view is that Lisa has some traits of Asperger's, for instance lack of empathy, socially inappropriate behavior, but now he believes she meets the diagnostic criteria for... personality disorder... managing her anxiety."
Nicholas: "I see no evidence before us that she is either mentally ill or a psychopath."
Lisa: "Psychopath. That's a terrible word to hear. 'Lisa's mad.'" (0:36)

Lisa tells Nicholas, "They still say I've got a personality disorder"
"They want to send me to a place in Wales for the retards." (0:38)

Wendy tells Lisa, "We think the best thing is if we all go together."
Bill: "We're going, with or without you."
Wendy: "Lisa, how often have you told me that you wish you were dead?" (0:45)

Wendy reads to Bill from the letter she has written "to the editor": "We realize that we will have to end our lives as there is no help whatsoever."
Bill holds a large bag of pills.
Wendy tells Bill, "The only way I'm going to get rid of Lisa is by getting rid of myself."
They walk together into the surf. (0:48)

From her hospital bed Wendy tells Dr. Rodriguez: "We were supposed to go together." (0:51)

Lisa tells Drs. Ramesh and Yorke, "They can't do empathy, these Asperger's people, but I can. I'm full of empathy." (0:54)

Wendy tells Julie, "I still can't get it into me head that he's gone." (0:55)

Lisa tells social worker Chanelle, referring to Wendy, "It's her who tried to kill herself." (0:55)

Wendy tells Chanelle "Her own mother tried to get her to kill herself.... tried to pursuade her to go with us."
"Which box does she fit in?" (0:57)

Wendy walks into the surf while swallowing pills. (1:03)

Wendy tells Julie about attempting to kill herself with pills and wading into the surf.
"We were supposed to go together."
"I think I've been having some sort of breakdown." (1:05)

How would you diagnose Lisa? What else would you want to know? How much does family emotional process contribute to her predicament? Do you see enmeshment, a perverse triangle, undifferentiated ego mass? How would you plan a systemic approach for this family?