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The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals…

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence (edition 1999)

by Gavin de Becker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,644364,383 (4.01)21
This book might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to the loved ones in your life, especially the women. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Apr 25, 2012 |
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Filled with powerful and heartbreaking stories and a lot of sound information. ( )
  LaPhenix | Apr 13, 2016 |
I thought the author was a bit full of himself, but found the material interesting.
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  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
Narrated by Tom Stechschulte. I read this important, informative book years ago and listened to it for review. Narrator Tom strikes a tone that is appropriately stern and cautionary but affirming and positive when it needs to be. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
I gave the Gift of Fear to both of my daughters and they have never let me forget it! But it has taught them to be very careful. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
I gave the Gift of Fear to both of my daughters and they have never let me forget it! But it has taught them to be very careful. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
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 |
A must read book not just for women, but for anybody who doesn't want to be stalked or harassed. I think most women have encountered overly persistent suitors at some point.

While it has great pointers, the weakness of the book is that it is primarily prevention methods. I don't think it'll help when some violent person is hellbent on hurting you or your family members. Yes, a restraining order is just a piece of paper, but what can you do when the psycho is already so emotionally invested when he ignores warnings from the police to stay away?
  arcadianshepherd | May 9, 2014 |
The overall message to listen to your intuition is good, but de Becker's ideas about domestic violence are so wrong-headed as to be dangerous, perpetuating the idea that victims deserve their treatment. ( )
  iliadawry | Feb 6, 2014 |
The chapters that related to everyday advice were useful, especially the last chapter, and there were several points where the author articulated something I subconsciously knew but had never consciously considered. Some of the anecdotes and stories were also very interesting, and for the most part the book felt educational and genuinely useful.

A substantial amount of content, however, focused on celebrities and celebrity lifestyles, and was big on anecdotes and short on actual advice. The author also constantly touted his security company, which after a while started to grate. I'm sure his company does great work, but in a book that's advertised as a way to empower people into taking their security into their own hands, it seems out of place. There's also a risk of confirmation bias in the stories the author tells, and I'm hesitant to take his word as 100% true--especially when certain parts of the book openly contradict each other, like when he pigeonholes certain traits as risk factors for violence while at the same time saying that people should trust their intuition above any arbitrary list of risk factors.

All things considered, this book is a good reference for those interested in personal safety, but I recommend reading it for general advice rather than as a how-to manual for safety. ( )
1 vote Featherwick | May 8, 2013 |
A staggering read. Vital for anyone raising children, or whose work regularly brings them in contact with 'the public '. A lot of this is things we all know instinctively, but it is unbelievably useful to see it all pulled together and analysed by a professional with unquestionable resources at his disposal. If you have ever been a victim of unwanted attention or a violent attack you will be amazed to see that it did not 'suddenly come out of nowhere'. Nothing is random. But ultimately, we are all much safer than we might think. The ultimate lesson is: Don't give in to fear, harness it. ( )
  Melanielgarrett | Apr 2, 2013 |
I want every woman I know to read this book, and it wouldn't hurt the men in my life to read it as well. Gavin de Becker has taught me to distinguish between the worry I put myself through and the fear that is worthy of my attention. I had an interesting intersection with this book and *Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames* by Thich Nhat Hanh, which I was reading at the same time. They are both, at their core, about the same thing: getting through the misperceptions down to real emotions. Each presented a different path, but reading both together has been an amazing experience. ( )
  Jessica_Olin | Apr 1, 2013 |
Smart advice on avoiding dangerous people and situations. ( )
  AnnB2013 | Mar 16, 2013 |
If you live on the streets or alone a must read for staying alive. ( )
  dickms | Oct 19, 2012 |
I have mixed feelings on this book.

I'm an ardent feminist and my approach to rape and violence against women is to highlight the societal causes. Rather than admonishing women to protect themselves better, I think it's more constructive to explore how society creates rapists.

I think my biggest problem with this book is with the buzz surrounding it. It got passed around the women in my family, and I often see reviews declaring that every woman should read this book. Despite the fact that the book isn't entirely focused on advice for women, people take it as such. This exacerbates a rape culture wherein women are tasked with preventing crimes from happening against them.

On the other hand, de Becker's book doesn't actually read like one of those annoying "How not to get raped" email lists. He doesn't suggest restrictions on women's freedom. Indeed, he argues for the exact opposite. He criticizes the baseless fear that women often feel and encourages them to let it go.

While this, I feel, is a good message, I don't think it can be fully presented without an acknowledgement of the rape culture we exist in wherein if a woman doesn't take "proper precautions", she's thereafter blamed for anything that may happen to her. De Becker neglects to address this angle, which plays a large role in complicating matters.

Feminist literature focuses on how the world needs to shift to make things safer. This book - as well as other mainstream sources - focus on how the individual needs to change to be safer within the world. I feel both are necessary to a degree, but I prefer to think in terms of the former.

That all being said, it's a good book for what it purports to do, and there is a lot more in there than just advice for women. It delves into criminal psychology, stalkers, assassins, and child murderers. I have a fascination with these topics, so I found it quite compelling. A couple sections gave me pause, his chapter on domestic violence, in particular.

Still, this guy knows his stuff, and he provides plenty of examples to illustrate his points. It's not a bad book in that regard, and it's surely worth a read if you're interested in the subject matter.
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3 vote jaala | Oct 13, 2012 |
This book might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to the loved ones in your life, especially the women. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Apr 25, 2012 |
This book is not just about intuitive fear. Gavin de Becker has a lot of insight into the motivations for many different kinds of violence. The Gift of Fear includes sections on domestic violence, stalking, overly persistent people, violent children, assassinations, threats, and workplace violence. It is a wonderful book that dispels the myth that we must always be on the lookout for potential violence. De Becker allows readers to free themselves from daily anxiety and instead, be more alert to when threats are actually present. ( )
1 vote echosaurus | Jan 6, 2012 |
This book was amazing. I read it when it first came out and it is a must read for any woman or man who wishes to be enlightened or for them to give to their lady friends.

This book teaches us to listen to our intuition ( or with men their 'gut') That many times before a crime happens , there are signals that tipp us off ,we just have to be open to them.

An easy read, very informative and a keeper. ( )
  mikomi6 | Aug 4, 2011 |
I recommend this book to anyone! I bought it when I was living alone in a scary part of town and it really helped me through some issues and worries. I loved the writing style, and there are many true stories that keep you very interested. ( )
  steffanyac | Mar 18, 2011 |
I heard about this book from a police officer who was doing a library program for me. He said it was a helpful book and I found it to be so. De Becker encourages readers to trust their instincts when faced with situations or people that cause a feeling of fear or concern. Among other things he offers tips on how to tel if a person is likely to become violent or pose a threat.

When finished with the book I felt informed. I'm now more aware of how much information I give out in conversations. I also find myself being more attuned to people's tone and body language. I highly recommend this interesting read. ( )
  librarian4Him02 | Nov 20, 2010 |
Put this at the top of your to-read list.

I know I don’t have much to say about this book. This is a short review, and my rating really says it all. Have you had a bad experience with a person who seemed just a little weird? Do you feel like people are being pushy, but they’re so nice it would be wrong to say no? Read this book.

http://reviewingwhatever.blogspot.com/2006/08/gift-of-fear.html ( )
  savethegreyhounds | Oct 31, 2010 |
An interesting read. The author argues that we try to overanalyse our intuition and we don't see the signals our bodies are trying to give us about dangerous people and situations. An interesting read, well worth a read and some thinking about. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Sep 15, 2010 |
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