Online Program

Dead when I got here

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 3:20 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Mark Aitken, Tacit Films Ltd, london, AL, United Kingdom
Compassion, pathos and life affirming redemption are discovered by a man as he manages a mental asylum run by its own patients in Juárez, Mexico. The seeds of hope profoundly brought to life by his daughter in LA who thought him dead, finding him during the making of this timeless film. 

Infested with gangrene and unable to walk, Josué was mentally deranged, his malnourished body punctured by decades of drug abuse. Police casted Josué out of the deadly streets of Juárez into the desert and dumped him in a mental asylum run by its own patients. 

Assisted by patients employing empathy as the only means of survival, Josué transcended certain death by discovering compassion in his darkest hours.

Six years later, Josué manages the asylum. Now it is his job to give drugs to the sick; to help them walk; to assist in recovering from the same trauma he experienced while living in the streets of the world’s most violent city.

120 patients negotiate madness with compassion in spite of the charnel house that lies beyond the asylum walls. These untouchables have made their own promised land. Their asylum from the madness outside.  

Josué visits the demolished house he inhabited with fellow drug addicts, murderers and thieves in Juárez.  He’s told that his old friends are now dead and his brothers refuse to see him.

Josué rallies his new found family of patients. They burn effigies in Juárez to exorcise the trauma from the streets they were ejected from.

Attempting to reconcile his broken history, Josué dreams of his estranged daughter in California – last seen 22 years ago. He asks the film maker to look for his daughter.  Pictures are posted on the internet. 

Josué and his daughter make contact and agree to meet. The itinerant father knows he cannot explain his absence. Perhaps forgiveness can lead to a new beginning.

Having reunited with his own flesh and blood, Josué continues to live and work in the asylum.  The long shadows of trauma cast by murder city area burden he now confronts with new vitality.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Occupational health and safety
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the roles of compassion and empathy in patient led mental health care in extreme conditions.

Keyword(s): Diversity and culture, Ethics, professional and legal requirements

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Producer and Director of the film 'Dead when I got here'. I have full consent from the characters in the film. I've been making films for over 20 years. More information is available at
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.