Beth Thomas: The ‘Child of Rage’

The name Beth Thomas is a chilling reminder of the harsh world we live in today. At first, Beth seemed like an ordinary girl, but as her story unfolded, she proved to be anything but normal. Her life story is evidence of the damage caused by childhood trauma, resilience in the face of all odds, and the capacity to heal even in the worst of times. Let’s get into the harrowing details of what happened to Beth Thomas.

Childhood Trauma

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For the first two years of her life, Beth suffered severe trauma that changed her forever. At the age of one, Beth lost her mother, leaving her and her infant brother with their birth father. After her mother died, Beth’s father horrifically abused her and deprived her of food. Beth and her brother, Jonathan, were removed from the home by social services.

Beth Was Adopted by a Methodist Minister and His Wife

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When she was around two years of age, Beth and her brother were adopted by a wonderful Christian couple who had been trying to conceive for a long time. Little did they know that this sweet, young child had endured severe trauma.

Things Took a Violent Turn

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The new family's troubles began with Beth having nightmares about a strange man who would fall on top of her and hurt her. Then, the violence started. Beth became highly aggressive and agitated with her adoptive parents and would regularly hurt and even kill animals. She inappropriately touched herself in public, assaulted her brother, and threatened to harm her parents. She seemed to be full of pure, uncontrollable rage. 

No Other Solutions

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Helpless, Beth's adoptive parents decided to lock her up every night in an attempt to protect her brother and themselves. They noticed knives were going missing, and as if things couldn’t get much worse, they discovered their daughter trying to smash her brother's head on a concrete wall in the basement.

They Sought an Expert's Opinion

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When they didn’t know what else to do, Beth's adoptive parents took her to a clinical psychologist named Dr. Ken Magid, who began to solve the missing pieces of the puzzle that no one had a clue about. Through his expert findings, Beth’s parents were able to discover the traumatic childhood she had endured.

Beth's Official Diagnosis

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Dr. Magid diagnosed Beth with a mental illness called RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder. RAD is relatively rare, with just 1-2% of children suffering from it. It is only diagnosed in children with severe attachment issues, who never get the chance to build a healthy bond with their parents. This leads to severe behavioral impairments. When children that young are subjected to abuse or are severely neglected, they often end up lashing out in bizarre ways. 

Intensive Therapy Away From Home

Child of Rage 1992
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Beth's parents were left with no choice but to send Beth away to get better. With the help of a therapist named Connell Watkins, she began her long and arduous path of recovery. 

Since Beth was abused at such a young age, she had never developed a conscience. That’s where Watkins came into play. He used different tactics and strategies to tackle her problems, but it was a gradual process. Initially, Watkins didn’t let Beth have any control. She would have to ask the people at the center if she could use the washroom, eat, sleep, etc. After she earned their trust, she was given more independence.

Connell Watkins Under Fire

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So, was the therapy a success? Many people think so. Yet in an uncanny turn of events, it came out that Watkins wasn't even a licensed therapist. In 2000, he was arrested on the grounds of child abuse due to his mishandling of a patient he was allegedly ‘rebirthing,’ which led to the kid's death. But, for Beth, his treatments proved to be a big success. 

HBO Made a Movie About Beth Thomas' Life

Child of Rage
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In 1992, HBO released a movie on Beth Thomas, her trauma, how it manifested into violence, and her long therapy sessions. It was titled Child of Rage and contained explicit tapes talking about the nightmares that haunted Beth, with her father as the culprit. The film showcased the extent of her trauma and what abuse does to a young mind; however, they did not use Beth's real name in the movie.

Where Is Beth Thomas Now?

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Beth Thomas graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in nursing. She currently works in the neonatal intensive care unit with precious babies. Just the fact that she’s working with children shows just how well the therapy worked for her. What’s even more impressive is that she started a program to help adopted children and their parents deal with attachment-related issues. 

Hope For the Future 

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From a child of rage to a healed woman, Beth dealt with so much trauma and anguish, yet she managed to power through and make something positive out of herself. Her story is an inspiration to us all, but especially to those who suffer from RAD and feel like they’ll never get better. 

Source: All That's Interesting