Child of Rage Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Child of Rage

The film Child of Rage (Home Box Office, 1992) depicts the devastating effects of child abuse. In the film Beth Thomas, a child who was severely abused and later adopted, discusses her shocking attitudes and desires that include wanting to kill her little brother and adoptive parents. She also discusses numerous incidents of abusing animals and her brother. Her depiction reminds one of a person with a psychopathic personality (now termed antisocial personality disorder).

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of disregard for the rights of others that occurs since 15 years of age and presents with three or more of the seven symptoms that are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The symptoms include a failure to conform to norms or other rules, deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness or irritability, disregard for the safety of oneself or others, responsible behavior, and a lack of remorse. In addition in order to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder the person must be at least 18 years old and there is often evidence of a conduct disorder before the age of 18.

Beth cannot be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder as this documentary depicts her well before the age of 18 years of age and a person cannot receive a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder unless they are at least 18 years old (this would even apply to the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder during the time this documentary was made under the DSM -- III -- R diagnostic criteria). Moreover, if one takes the time to do a follow-up on Beth one learns as an adult that she became a registered nurse and an advocate for sexually abused children; therefore, there is no diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder in this case.

This particular case looks more like a case of reactive attachment disorder as a result of a child suffering severe abuse. However, some of the claims made by the documentary are little shaky to say the least. For example, in the interview Beth claims to have memories of her birth father sexually abusing her at one year of age. This is extremely unlikely any time a child recalls memories from this age period these are highly suspect and could represent fantasies or coaching. Nonetheless there does appear to be a history of severe physical and sexual abuse, severe neglect, and a lack of the development of a positive caregiver bond early in Beth and her brother and these conditions certainly contributed to Beth's early emotional issues. Moreover, children model behaviors they are exposed to early on, so there is…

Sources Used in Document:


Home Box Office. (1992). Child of Rage. Retrieved from


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