email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAgainst MarriageAgainst MarriageAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUp in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!
Mysterious Creatures is a film based on a tragic true story; it was made for British TV in 2006, and has been recently released on DVD. It follows a year in the life of Bill and Wendy Anscow and their daughter Lisa. In real life, at the times of the events depicted, Bill was 75 and Wendy was 64, although the actors Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn were 49 and 60 at the times of the film's release. Lisa was 33. Initially she has a diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder, and atypical Asperger's syndrome. After hospitalization, she is given a new diagnosis of mixed personality disorder. The Ainscows have been in the British newspapers frequently; Bill was prosecuted for stealing £50,000 from his employers; it turned out he did it in order to pay the bills Lisa accumulated from her shopping sprees. He went to prison for 3 months and was then released. However, Bill and Wendy gained more publicity for a series of suicide attempts. Bill succeeded in one of them, but Wendy survived. Just before the film was shown on British TV, she made another attempt. Yet she survived, and continues to work as a teacher in Birmingham, seeing Lisa, who lives in the Liverpool area, on weekends.
Writer Gwyneth Hughes interviewed both Wendy and Lisa in researching for the script, and says in an interview that she was very concerned to make the story accurate. It is impossible for viewers to know how successful she was, but she depicts Lisa as a moral monster. She shouts and screams at home, making her parents' lives impossible. She hates her father and manipulates her mother. Lisa is totally self-concerned and shows no love at all for her parents. Yet Bill and Wendy don't give her boundaries, and let Lisa go on spending sprees, buying expensive shoes and going to nice restaurants, so it seems they could have done more to get Lisa to understand her limits. They could have put her in an institution where she was looked after by trained professionals. We see Bill wanting to take a stand against Lisa, but Wendy won't let him. She loves Lisa too much, but since this means she gives into Lisa's ever whim, it is doubtful that she actually does what's best for her. Strangely, after Bill dies, Lisa and Wendy get on more smoothly, and at the end of the film, there is text saying that she is now very happy. From what we saw of her earlier on, it is hard to believe she could ever be happy.
One question raised by the story is whether Lisa should ever have been hospitalized against her will. If she has a personality disorder, then there is real doubt as to whether she could be successfully treated, and while she seemed to have some delusions and self-destructive ideas (self-harming, often saying she wanted to be euthanized, and wanting to have her breasts removed), she wasn't suicidal. What's more, although she may have driven her father to suicide, she wasn't violent towards others. So it is hard to see how her hospitalization could be justified. It is clear, however, that the family needed professional help and the Wendy and Bill would have benefited from advice about how to react to Lisa to protect their own mental health and to get Lisa to be more independent. Something could have been done to avert the misery Lisa caused her parents and to help her have her own life with more rewarding activities than buying shoes.
While Mysterious Creatures compresses a great deal of information into 70 minutes, and so leaves a great deal uncertain and resolved, it is also very well directed and the acting is superb. There's no way to tell what Lisa's diagnosis should be: most of what we see is her anxiety, excessive anger, materialism, acquisitiveness, selfishness, inappropriate behavior, lack of empathy, and manipulativeness. These are all moral deficits, although they may also be part of a mental disorder. So the film provides a strong test case for the boundaries of what we as a society count as mental illness. Recommended.
Link: Manchester Evening News article on Mysterious Creatures
© 2008 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.
Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology.
We feature over 8000 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and
We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.
Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'
Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send
review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank
you for your support!
Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these
announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click
Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers
for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Promote your Page too
Metapsychology Online Reviews