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The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
I put this down after the first nerve-racking scenario. Picked it up and am reading it in sections. There is alot of VERY useful information for anyone who doesn't live in a bubble. Judging how people will act/react is a skill we all need to hone. ( )
  SallyBrandle | Jul 7, 2018 |
I didn't find this book helpful at all, maybe I have already read enough things about violence and abuse and etc that this book just didn't put anything new on the table.

Even then I can't shake the feeling that it was mostly just filler, and the author stroking his ego, and sensationalism, that last one is pretty ironic having in mind how much he criticizes the news and all.

I don't think his logic is sound neither, he seems to be taking examples that validate his world view and ignoring all others, yeah, all those people had a gut feeling and they ended up being right, but what about all those times you aren't right? Even though he did approach this topic on the last chapters about worrying and anxiety vs real fear the fact is that is very difficult to make that distinction in reality while you are anxious, and he doesn't make any suggestions about how to help it.

I'm not going to analyze this book chapter by chapter but there are other things that didn't sit well with me, like his saying that "if it is in your head now it was in your head then", that's not really reliable, memory alone isn't reliable, people misremember things all the time, and if we are talking about a high-stakes situation (as he calls them) then it's a hundred times worse, you can't trust a witness to remember accurately the clothing of the assailant much less all the signals that may have been a red flag.

I didn't like this book at all. ( )
  Rose98 | Jun 22, 2018 |
It has some good tidbits, but I really expected a lot more given what I had heard about this book. I'd recommend giving it a once-over, but get it from the library! Also - I don't recommend the audiobook version. The author should have sprung to have someone else do the reading - just b/c you can write, doesn't mean you make a good audio reader! ( )
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
"In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker 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 to 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 more. Learn to spot the danger
signals others miss. It might just save your life."--back cover
  collectionmcc | Mar 6, 2018 |
I don’t remember exactly why I picked up this one ; my best guess it was on the recommendation list of some other book about human nature and behavior. At any rate, The Gift of Fear is by Gavin de Becker, who runs a private protective service specializing in dealing with stalkers, domestic violence, and workplace violence. The book is good, but not great; the main problem is the extensive use of anecdotes – repeated accounts of how somebody ignored obvious warning signs that a relation was going badly or that something was not quite right in an encounter or that letters from a celebrity admirer were taking on a disturbing tone. De Becker has a long list of such warning signs – “forced teaming”, where somebody you don’t especially want to deal with keeps referring to “we”; “too many details”, where somebody you encounter keeps providing personal information; “loan sharking”, where somebody performs some apparently generous act only to demand something in return; and so on. The catch, of course, is that anecdotal evidence is evidence, just not very good evidence; the generalization de Becker provides could apply to so many situations that they cease being useful. The flip side is that if de Becker had written a book with tables of probabilities and Monte Carlo event trees (where, for example, you could decide that if I guy buys you an expensive present on the second date what are the chances that things will go badly at the end) nobody would read it. I seem to think this sort of thing is common in the law enforcement world; a lot of expert opinion is just that – opinion rather than data. Not necessarily bad, of course; expert opinion is sometimes the best you can do, especially in areas where data is hard to come by. Still, I’d like to hear of some cases where all the signs were there but things ended well or where no signs were in evidence but things went badly.

There are plenty of cases where things go badly and there is apparently abundant advance evidence; a boy who decapitates a neighbor’s dog ends up as a mass murderer; a boy who molests children in grade school ends up continuing to do it. We all remember reading about the Navy Yard shooting (too recent for this book) where there was all sorts of evidence that the perpetrator was at least a bubble off level. Still, I’d like to see more numbers. Worth reading for the shock value of some of the cases, and the advice about being careful in dangerous situations is well taken. A fairly long bibliography, but mostly consisting of similar “pop psychology” books. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 23, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440508835, Paperback)

Each hour, 75 women are raped in the United States, and every few seconds, a woman is beaten. Each day, 400 Americans suffer shooting injuries, and another 1,100 face criminals armed with guns. Author Gavin de Becker says victims of violent behavior usually feel a sense of fear before any threat or violence takes place. They may distrust the fear, or it may impel them to some action that saves their lives. A leading expert on predicting violent behavior, de Becker believes we can all learn to recognize these signals of the "universal code of violence," and use them as tools to help us survive. The book teaches how to identify the warning signals of a potential attacker and recommends strategies for dealing with the problem before it becomes life threatening. The case studies are gripping and suspenseful, and include tactics for dealing with similar situations.

People don't just "snap" and become violent, says de Becker, whose clients include federal government agencies, celebrities, police departments, and shelters for battered women. "There is a process as observable, and often as predictable, as water coming to a boil." Learning to predict violence is the cornerstone to preventing it. De Becker is a master of the psychology of violence, and his advice may save your life. --Joan Price A Q&A with Gavin de Becker

Question: In today’s world, where terror and tragedy seem omnipresent, the fear of violence never seems more heightened. Is the world a more violent place than it ever has been?

Gavin de Becker : Your question contains much of the answer: today’s world, "where terror and tragedy seem omnipresent..." The key word is "seem." When TV news coverage presents so much on these topics, it elevates the perception of terrorism and tragedy way beyond the reality. In every major city, TV news creates forty hours of original production every day, most of it composed and presented to get our attention with fear. Hence an incident on an airplane in which a man fails to do any damage is treated as if the make-shift bomb actually exploded. It didn’t. Imagine having a near miss in your car, avoiding what would have been a serious collision--and then talking about every hour for months after the fact. Welcome to TV news.

To the second part of your question, No, the world is not a more violent place than it has ever been, however we live as if it were. The U.S. is the most powerful nation in world history--and also the most afraid.

Question: Your bestselling book The Gift of Fear gives many examples to help readers recognize what you call pre-incident indicators (PINS) of violence. What role does intuition play in recognizing these signals?

Gavin de Becker: Like every creature on earth, we have an extraordinary defense resource: We don’t have the sharpest claws and strongest jaws--but we do have the biggest brains, and intuition is the most impressive process of these brains. It might be hard to accept its importance because intuition is often described as emotional, unreasonable, or inexplicable. Husbands chide their wives about "feminine intuition" and don’t take it seriously. If intuition is used by a woman to explain some choice she made or a concern she can’t let go of, men roll their eyes and write it off. We much prefer logic, the grounded, explainable, unemotional thought process that ends in a supportable conclusion. In fact, Americans worship logic, even when it’s wrong, and deny intuition, even when it’s right. Men, of course, have their own version of intuition, not so light and inconsequential, they tell themselves, as that feminine stuff. Theirs is more viscerally named a "gut feeling," but whatever name we use, it isn’t just a feeling. It is a process more extraordinary and ultimately more logical in the natural order than the most fantastic computer calculation. It is our most complex cognitive process and, at the same time, the simplest.

Intuition connects us to the natural world and to our nature. It carries us to predictions we will later marvel at. "Somehow I knew," we will say about the chance meeting we predicted, or about the unexpected phone call from a distant friend, or the unlikely turnaround in someone’s behavior, or about the violence we steered clear of, or, too often, the violence we elected not to steer clear of. The Gift of Fear offers strategies that help us recognize the signals of intuition--and helps us avoid denial, which is the enemy of safety.

Question: Your latest book, Just 2 Seconds, has been called a "masterpiece" of analysis on the art of preventing assassination. It contains an entire compendium of attacks on protected persons across the globe. What motivated you to put together such a definitive reference? What tenets can be applied to one’s everyday life?

Gavin de Becker: Most of all, we wrote the book we needed. My co-authors and I had long looked for an extensive collection of attack summaries from which important new insights could be harvested. Unable to find it, we committed to do the work ourselves, eventually collecting more than 1400 cases to analyze. Many new insights and concepts emerged from the study, and the one most applicable to day to day life, even for people who are not living with unusual risks, is to be in the present; pre-sent, as it were. Now is the only time anything ever happens--now is where the action is. All focus on anything outside the Now (the past, memory, the future, fantasy) detracts focus from what’s actually happening in your environment. Human being have the capacity to look right at something and not see it, and in studying such a crisp event--the few seconds during which assassinations have occurred--Just 2 Seconds aims to enhance the reader’s ability to see the value of the present moment.

(Photo © Avery Helm)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:07 -0400)

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Explains how to use the power of intuition to identify and avoid danger, and shares advice on restraining orders and self-defense tactics.

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