Picks and Pans Review: Child of Rage: a Story of Abuse

updated 07/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Mon., Jury 2, 10 P.M. ET)

B+

This deeply disturbing documentary presents the nightmarish case study of Beth, who is now 7. Adopted at 19 months, along with her younger brother, by a Southern minister and his wife, she was displaying such twisted behavior by the age of 6 that she had to be locked in her room at night so that she would not stab or otherwise attack her sibling. Beth had been found pounding the boy's head against a cement floor and admitting to wanting to kill him and her adoptive mommy and daddy. She was also torturing the family pets and exhibiting compulsive sexual behavior.

Beth was diagnosed as having early attachment disorder, the result of being severely neglected and sexually abused by her natural father. Eventually she was placed in a special home where, with rigid discipline and support, she has begun to make progress on her self-esteem and sense of conscience. But watching those earlier tapes of this innocent-looking little girl in therapy, gently and candidly relating her monstrously cruel impulses, is horrifying and riveting.

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