Show explores teenage girls in pain

Thursday, March 27, 2003

After years of "Survivor" and "The Mole" episodes, you'd be forgiven if you never wanted to watch another "video diary." But the hackneyed "reality TV" staple is put to powerful use in the documentary "Cutters: Self Abuse" (7 p.m., Discovery Health).

Tracey Gold is host of this look at a painful and secret affliction that affects adolescent girls. Overwhelmed by their emotions, they feel compelled to mutilate themselves with sharp objects, often several times a day. As several cutters and their therapists explain, this painful act helps them relieve tension. And once they resort to self-abuse, they often feel driven to cut themselves repeatedly. Compulsive hair pulling, eating disorders and skin burning are often related symptoms.

The makers of "Cutters" gained access to a treatment center where girls receive therapeutic treatment and learn to reach out to others rather than hurting themselves. Therapists interviewed here report that their self-injury caseloads have doubled in the past few years. Some contend that 10 percent of all adolescent girls turn to cutting.

To soften the ground for the new thriller spoof, Sci Fi offers back-to-back sequels "Tremors 2: Aftershocks" (6 p.m.) and "Tremors 3: Back to Perfection" (8 p.m.). Don't look for Kevin Bacon in these direct-to-video efforts.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Jay Leno welcomes James Woods on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Matthew McConaughey, Jon Gruden and The Roots appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Robert Duvall, Wanda Sykes and Sum 41 appear on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).