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The most important book I ve ever read I first encountered de Becker when he was on Oprah years ago, talking about what to teach your child if they get lost in a public place Tell them to find a woman who looks like a mommy and ask her for help After all, how often is a policeman around This pragmatic, common sense approach stuck with me.Later, a friend in law enforcement suggested this book and I read it in one sitting Have a coworker who makes you uneasy Read this book Trying to get out of a relationship with an unstable person Read this book Are you a woman Read this book.It s hard to quantify if I m actually safer after reading this book, but I am far aware of my intuition now Much of the time we re afraid to look foolish or rude by listening to that nagging feeling leaving the overcrowded nightclub, walking away from the stranger who just wants to help you with your groceries but your intuition has been honed over hundreds of thousands of years of collective experience Pay attention to it. NO SPOILERS Something about the title and cover design of The Gift of Fear gives the impression that it s a self help book about self defense It isn t The only good thing on the cover is the quotation separating title from subtitle This Book Can Save Your Life That s true The author is a specialist in security issues and threat assessment who owns a successful private security firm in Los Angeles called Gavin de Becker Associates His clients include many high profile figures A perusal of the acknowledgements shows an impressive array of many very famous names His love for the topic is evident and reasoning and explanations intelligent and clear Really explaining The Gift of Fear in a way that does it justice will easily overwhelm the review space, but its main idea is that human intuition or gut feeling is powerful and helpful than it gets credit for and absolutely can save one s life Logic is always viewed as superior to mere feelings, and intuition is feeling however, de Becker explains that it s when one employs logic in situations that feel uncomfortable or off in some way that those situations can turn dangerous De Becker says so much about intuition that sounds radical but only for those who have been told logic is paramount.Fans of true crime stories will certainly enjoy The Gift of Fear De Becker intermingled numerous stories all true, some famous and some not throughout Some of the stories illustrate instances when someone s intuition protected him other stories are the opposite De Becker examined the criminal mind and broke apart many famous cases to bolster his chapters on assassins, stalking, domestic violence, violent children, and workplace violence, among others De Becker strongly opposes how some movies and t.v shows depict romantic relationships, particularly how men are portrayed pursuing women He also opposes how media report crime and portray criminals and explains why, after one kind of crime occurs, copycat crimes occur not long thereafter Criminals receive lionizing media attention, and de Becker argues for a sea change I propose that we don t show the bullets on the bureau in the seedy hotel room show instead the dirty underwear and socks on the bathroom floor I propose that we don t arrange photo opportunities that show the offender being escorted by ten federal agents from a helicopter to a motorcade of waiting cars Conversely, guarded by federal agents just like the president , whisked into waiting helicopters just like the president , his childhood home show on TV just like the president , the type of gun he owned fired on the news by munitions experts extolling its killing power, the plans he made described as meticulous these presentations promote the glorious aspects of assassination and other media crimes Getting caught for some awful violence should be the start of oblivion, not the biggest day of one s life But it was the biggest day in the life of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was paraded in front of the waiting press surrounded by FBI agents, rushed to a motorcade, and then whisked away in a two helicopter armada We saw this even with accused Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whose close up appeared on the covers of Time, U.S News World Report, and Newsweek twice The cover text of all three described Kaczynski as a genius Reporters usually refer to assassins with triple names, like Mark David Chapman, Lee Harvey Oswald, Arthur Richard Jackson One might come to believe that assassins actually used these pretentious triple names in their pre attack lives they didn t They were Mark, Lee, and Arthur I propose promoting the least glamorous incarnation of their names Call a criminal Ted Smith instead of Theodore Bryant Smith Better still, find some nickname used in his pre attack life Federal agent His name is Theodore Smith, but he was known as Chubby Ted. Further, although media are fond of reporting that criminals snapped or claim nobody could have seen this coming, he explains that there are, unequivocally, pre incident indicators before violent acts He lists and explains these in detail The Gift of Fear was published in 1997 but fortunately has aged well The only topic not covered that most definitely would be covered in an updated edition is cyber stalking and general internet safety As the book stands now, however, the chapter on stalking contains information that can apply to cyber stalking Statistics on various types of violence have no doubt changed also For instance, the book says 75 women are raped every hour in the U.S., but as of this writing, it s 78 every hour, according to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence Ironically, those living in fear are the ones most in need of The Gift of Fear It s captivating, educational, and stunning, but even than that, it really is empowering, life altering, and life saving Final verdict Looks can be deceiving ignore the ugly cover The Gift of Fear is an accessible five star must read for both men and women He would appreciate this article How Rom Coms Undermine Women 9 13 17 Newest relevant article follows Stalking, actually why men who reject rejection are not romantic heroes I was intrigued when Amy Poehler kept mentioning this book in Yes Please, so I decided to order it Sidenote Wouldn t this title be a great tagline for a Christmas themed horror movieThis Holiday season, give THE GIFT OF FEAR Anyway, a lot of this book is common sense, and the author describes intuition or your gut feeling as deep voice THE GIFT OF FEAR De Becker says this is made of mostly unconscious processes like observing things and being able to predict what will happen based on common sense I was really let down by this book because, again, it s mostly just common sense There s nothing really new here.Another thing, for the most part this book posits that it s mostly men stalking, harassing, and being violent mostly toward women You have to get to the last third of the book before female assailants are even given any mention, and mostly those are in the form of overly attached girlfriends There s that famous Margaret Atwood quote in there about men being afraid that women will laugh at them, but women being afraid that men will kill them except the author doesn t even attribute it to her at all I kept having to double check that this book was indeed written by a man because most of the book is about men being the only ones capable of being monsters and only women seem to be mentioned if they are a jilted or delusional lover It just didn t feel balanced to me, especially in a world where the statistics of female on male crime are greatly reduced for various societal reasons I m sure male on female crime is a higher statistic than the other way around, but this issue is neither touched upon or glossed over, it s simply ignored The Gift of Fear is basically telling you that unless you pay attention or obsess over someone, you ll be a victim if you re a woman I actually don t find that useful or empowering at all. I found this book highly repetitive, somewhat illogical, and utterly impractical De Becker uses many examples of people who suspected something was wrong and then were proven right, but what about all the times that people suspected something was wrong and then nothing happened Further, I do not share his confidence that people can just know by instinct when a situation is dangerous Perhaps some people can, but other people cannot For example, I have an anxiety disorder If I trusted my instincts, I d never leave my apartment De Becker does touch on the difference between anxiety which he thinks is useless and fear which he thinks is useful but does not provide a any useful rubric for determining the difference between anxiety and fear or b any tips for retraining an anxious brain to recognize real threats instead of imagined ones I don t expect De Becker to have the cure for anxiety disorders, but I did expect practical tips for identifying danger rather than just a constant refrain of trust your instincts , since so many people seem to have poorly formed instincts for various reasons. [ FREE BOOK ] ☪ The Gift of Fear: and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence ☦ True Fear Is A GiftUnwarranted Fear Is A CurseLearn How To Tell The DifferenceA Date Won T Take No For An Answer The New Nanny Gives A Mother An Uneasy Feeling A Stranger In A Deserted Parking Lot Offers Unsolicited Help The Threat Of Violence Surrounds Us Every Day But We Can Protect Ourselves, By Learning To Trust And Act On Our Gut InstinctsIn This Empowering Book, Gavin De Becker, The Man Oprah Winfrey Calls The Nation S Leading Expert On Violent Behavior, Shows You How To Spot Even Subtle Signs Of Danger Before It S Too Late Shattering The Myth That Most Violent Acts Are Unpredictable, De Becker, Whose Clients Include Top Hollywood Stars And Government Agencies, Offers Specific Ways To Protect Yourself And Those You Love, Including How To Act When Approached By A Stranger, When You Should Fear Someone Close To You, What To Do If You Are Being Stalked, How To Uncover The Source Of Anonymous Threats Or Phone Calls, The Biggest Mistake You Can Make With A Threatening Person, And Learn To Spot The Danger Signals Others Miss It Might Just Save Your Life The Gift of Fear taught me some important lessons abut paying attention to your instincts The author spent decades in protection and grew up in an abusive, violent home, so he knows what he s talking about Some of his ideas are quite counter intuitive, like that Protective Orders don t help and frequently are the catalyst for violence from the offender.Another idea he has is that women need to be much assertive with men who they know they will never be interested in According to his research, stalkers ignore the passive, non confrontational ways of most women when they turn down a man as an incentive to keep pursuing their attention The you hem and haw the they take that as a yes Also, if the stalker calls you 20 times and you answer on the 21st ring, that is telling him, oh I have to call 21 times to get her to pick up the phone.The messengers of intuition are nagging feelings, persistent thoughts, humor, wonder anxiety,curiosity, hunches, gut feelings, doubt, hesitation, suspicion, apprehensions, and Fear He explains how humor of all things can be an indicator that something is off, especially black humor for example one of the Unabomber s packages came and the office workers thought at the time that the package looked strange, it was very heavy, had lots of tape and stamps on it and was addressed to the former head of the company The new manager opened it anyway, but before he did, one man said let me get back to my office before the bomb goes off, he did leave and he survived, never dreaming that his instinct was telling him to run. I have a long standing psychological investment, let s say, in the science of violence classifying it, predicting it, recovering from it This book spent a bit of time talking about the epidemic of violence, which needs very little illustration than to say that three out of every four American women will in their lifetimes be the victim of a violent assault, and a large portion of those assaults will be sexual This is not something I need convincing on I often find myself in a packed and silent elevator car down to a train station, or sitting around a boardroom table, and I ll listen to the men around me hello, massively male dominated field in a male dominated profession and think, which one of you is a rapist Which one of you has beaten someone unconsciousThough to be statistically accurate, I should often be asking how many, not which one Anyway Rambling This book is about the prediction of violence The things you mostly women can do to avoid being the victims of assaults, rapes, robberies, kidnappings, beatings And not in the way where it s telling you how to dress or where to walk, but in the way where we can all be smarter about the things we notice, and how we react to them Most of this was old ground for me, but it s presented here effectively than I ve seen anywhere else.It s not perfect though A few of the obviously problematic things that jumped out at me De Becker doesn t really get socialized gendered compliance, at least not all the time He ll go from this incredibly smart discussion of how the ways women are socialized to say no to men I don t want to be seeing anyone right now, rather than no, I don t want to date you, can be very dangerous because they open the door to negotiation De Becker will be making the sharp and correct point that women aren t actually allowed to say no in many scenarios, but that it s engrained so deep, we don t notice But then he ll turn around in another chapter and say that he can t give a checklist for how to behave if you are in the power of a violent offender, just use your intuition, it will save you The first part is true enough there are too many scenarios at play, too many variables, and the need for appeasement in one situation can be the need for hard, relentless resistance in another But the second part Hang on We know women have been socialized to react in maladaptive and often dangerous ways to men, and yet we re supposed to rely purely on reflexive response in moments of great danger Intuition may be smart, and it may in extremis be smarter than social conditioning, but how many of us actually know how to respond to that intuition Don t get me wrong, it s happened to me That moment where your brain disconnects and your body moves all on its own and you are not afraid You aren t anything You aren t even you And you only think later after it s over, I could have died That is really powerful shit, right there, and De Becker s right, it s smart But it s not a given, and forgive me if I suspect that people who have been trained from birth not to credit their own wants and needs might be capable of smothering the reactions that could save their lives De Becker really misses the boat in his section on distinguishing fear from worry Fear being the useful, smart, intuitive impulse and worry being the habituated, often projective and pointless activity that just makes us needlessly paranoid in situations where we don t have to be He really wants to divide things up into clean, accurate, instinctive fear at the sight of a particular threat gesture, and learned, socialized fear that is not driven by unconscious data Okay, sure.But in which category do racially motivated fears go Studies consistently show that white Americans have a physiological fear response to the sight of African American men in particular situations Hell, some of the subconscious word association trials show a prevalence of fear associations just at the micro visual flash of an African American face on a computer screen And you don t need a study for that, you just need to go into any major city with a couple of comfy white habitual suburbanites.So, seriously, what category does that go in It s not very smart or useful Aside from just being shitty, I mean African American men might commit violent crime than their white peers I know, it seems like the sort of statistical assertion that should be arguable, but it turns out it s not but that violence is directed overwhelmingly at other African American men Most people, in most circumstances, are in far danger from a member of their own race.But we have a racially motivated fear response So how are people supposed to tell the difference between that sort of pre conscious racist social conditioning and true, useful intuition De Becker doesn t say, and actually given the nearly pathological lack of race discussions from this book about violence, I suspect he doesn t know I laughed out loud when De Becker confidently proclaimed, in discussing post violence analysis of pre violence indicators, that if it is in your head now, it was in your head then Ahahaha gasp Oh, God, that is hilarious And so amazingly wrong Eye witness accounts are notoriously inaccurate, and victim witness accounts are noticeably worse In fact, one of the physiological results of high adrenaline for many people is blurred perception and memory Add that to the understandable and overwhelming impulse of victims to explain it, to tabulate all the ways they should have seen it coming, and you have a recipe for incredibly unreliable recollections.De Becker s right a lot of violence is not senseless, and most of it is predictable if you process the signs If you see them in the first place But sometimes we don t see And the way De Becker tries to teach readers to process in the moment what he can only reconstruct in example post facto strikes me as pretty problematic.Still It s a great book, and I do highly recommend it It s just the race thing He doesn t deal with it I suspect he can t and that s a pretty big flaw. On the first day of SFSI training for sex educators, we do an exercise called I Don t Want To Talk About It Trainees practice saying just that to a partner who inundates them with questions, from the mundane to the highly offensive And first day sex educators can come up with some really offensive questions Most of them are about anal sex It s hard for many trainees to set that boundary, and most women especially add qualifiers I don t want to talk about that right now I m sorry, but I m not comfortable talking about that I don t feel like talking about that This book trained me out of those caveats by teaching me that I don t owe strangers anything not my smile, not my appearance, not my reply on a dating website I choose to be kind, but I don t have to be nice The fear of not being nice sets you up to be hurt emotionally or physically It s one of the most valuable lessons I ve ever learned I d recommend this book to anyone who was raised as a girl, but I d also recommend it to anyone who finds it hard to say I don t want to talk about it. Removed a caveat here that said I hadn t quite finished the book because, well, I ve finished it Thoughts haven t changed Enjoy the review People are saying that this should be required reading for all women, and while there s certainly a heavy emphasis on women in dangerous relationships or situations, this recommendation is a wee bit shortsighted I think that everyone could benefit from reading it, particularly when it comes to the examples he gave about the businessman who wouldn t leave a male company owner alone, or the chapter on troublesome employees I had a bit of a hard time with this book at first, for a very basic reason this is a scary book The first story alone about the woman who was raped by a man who conned his way into her apartment was enough to raise my hackles, and the stories just kept coming Though in reality this didn t take up that much of the book, it felt like I was slogging through a lot of terror in order to get to the empowering part The book was making me feel scared and helpless, so I put it down for awhile.Then, months later, I picked it back up again, because I d heard so many good things about it from so many people whose opinion on this sort of thing I trust, and because at least one person told me it helped them get away from a particularly poisonous harasser As it turns out, I had stopped reading right as it was getting good, and from then on I ve barely been able to put it down.One thing I ve heard from critics of the book is that the chapter on domestic violence is a bit victim blaming, and I do have to say I agree The chapter is helpful, and does go a bit into why battered women often choose not to leave, but then glosses over it by saying that by letting herself be battered a second time, she is a volunteer This is a message that in my opinion is harmful than helpful to women who have been abused what you don t want is to tell an abuse victim that she should ve made better life choices She already knows that, she already blames herself for what has happened, and she already beats herself up for it there is no need to make this feeling worse Also part of this is the fact that the DV community has found that it s not beneficial to tell these women what to do by repeating leave him leave him leave him without regard to what the victim herself wants This is why people who counsel friends of victims on what to do for support tend to warn them away from demanding that the victim leave the goal is for her to feel like she is in control of her own life, otherwise she ll resist change, no matter how beneficial it may seem Good DV advice counsels victims on options they have, things they can do if they decide to stay, with an escape plan if when it becomes necessary I would suggest that survivors of abuse either skip that chapter altogether, if they re not ready for it, or take it with a HUGE grain of salt.Other than that, this has been a superb book and I recommend it to anyone who would be interested in reading it. All martial artists should read this Hopefully you already know that awareness is by far the most important aspect of self defense The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker tells us how to tune into the body s natural awareness a subconscious intuition for danger that is hard wired into our psyche Basically he argues that our intuition is a far better judge than our logical mind when it comes to danger The author runs a security firm that guards Presidents and A list celebs among others, his training is in profiling dangerous criminals this is Silence of the Lambs type stuff in real life.It s rare to come across a book that totally changes the way you see things, but this is one The Gift of Fear is a truly great piece of writing about self protection, almost poetic in places, and especially good for women though pretty vital to everyone Engrossing, surprising and ultimately very empowering Please read it.