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The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Gift of Fear (edition 1998)

by Gavin de Becker

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Title:The Gift of Fear
Authors:Gavin de Becker (Author)
Info:Dell (1998), Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:psychology, fear, self-help, intuition, survival

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The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

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Teaches what real fear is and why we should always trust it. ( )
  tangentrider | Aug 27, 2015 |
This may well be one of the most important books I have read. The author manages to funnel a lifetime of experience into clear, concise information that can help us begin to listen to fear while worrying less and using our own intuition to stay safe. It's absolutely fascinating if you have any interest in psychology. It's also written so well that the reading is not tedious or difficult to understand. Anyone can benefit from having read this book. ( )
  JenLamoureux | Jul 3, 2015 |
Several friends had recommended this book, and I agree it is a must read. I would say especially for women, but honestly I think it's a great book all around. Worth reading for anyone who has ever thought about their personal safety. It's a fast, easy read, and crystal clear. I loved his chapter about creating a high school class on saying no and letting go. Brilliant! ( )
  Lucifey | Jan 10, 2015 |
I really liked a lot of his points - that violence is predictable and preventable, and not doing either is a choice we make - but some of it seemed pretty insensitive to larger concerns. Partly I think it's just dated; it's been more than fifteen years since this book was written, and the way we talk about rape and battered women has changed a little.

Partly, though, de Becker is simply just concerned with safety on an individual level, and doesn't consider any larger societal or political implications. For instance: in one story he points out a university's failure to examine a package delivered to a student from a gun company, which did contain a gun which the student later used to shoot several classmates. That is absolutely a warning sign of violence - but I'm on the side of the dean who said that the school can't be in the business of opening its students' mail.

He also never brought up one particular failure of intuition which I'm sure lots of people have been thinking about. De Becker puts a lot of weight on intuition, saying that if you're afraid, it's because you've noticed something that's a sign of danger. Well, look, I live in a racist society and my intuition jumps when I see a black guy just out and walking around. Granted I'm a pretty harmless white girl and the worst thing that will happen if I act on my "intuition" is that I'll make some guy's day a little more miserable, but we've all seen recently what happens with people who feel a little more entitled to act out based on their "intuition" of danger. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Dec 9, 2014 |
So much better than I expected, this book surprised me with its critical thinking & clear analysis. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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