Bloch takes an overlooked aspect of Freud's Oedipus complex description--the parents' attempt to murder the child--as the basis of this vivid, sometimes startling examination of children's fantasies and distorted perceptions. Because of their natural vulnerability, she maintains, children are predisposed to the fear of infanticide; if their families are unloving or violent, they often develop fantasy identities as a defense, a means of survival, like the boy who insisted he was Mighty Mouse or the girl who said, without preliminaries or amplification, ""I don't like to think of myself as a giraffe."" Bloch, a psychotherapist, demonstrates how several of her young patients directly expressed such fears and defended them as realistic (Why else would Daddy keep a gun?); how the devious logic supporting such beliefs often changed with treatment; and how such fears can be repressed and turned inward-even into adulthood--by those who can't live with the hopelessness they represent. Bloch's notice of Freud's omission is not new, nor is the recognition that such fears take root in children from abusive homes; what is distinctly her own is the evidence of how varied its expression can be and how difficult it is to eradicate--most cases required several years and parental involvement. Although Bloch intends this book for parents as well as other therapists, it's hardly like Spock or Brazleton in its suppositions, and the strictly Freudlan orientation may be too convoluted for most parents. But for professionals, it's consistently well presented and insightful in its observations.