Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence - Gavin De Becker

Summary -
True fear is a gift.
Unwarranted fear is a curse.
Learn how to tell the difference.

A 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 instincts.

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the 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, to act when approached by a stranger...when you should fear someone close to you...what to do if you are being 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. (Picture from Excerpt from the back of the book.)

My review: Gavin De Becker is a world-renowned expert in the field of violent behavior and threat evaluation, and the man ultimately responsible for the protection of eight of the ten most at risk Americans, 35 top American families, and the security of countless government agencies. Which means, when it comes to dangerous encounters, De Becker can spot them a mile away.

In his New York Times bestselling book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker focuses on honing our most important survival tool – our fear instinct. Most of us have conditioned ourselves to override our own intuition; in this age of obligatory acceptance, we will consciously choose to get into an elevator with a person who makes us uncomfortable, or accept unwanted assistance because we do not want to seem judgmental, intolerant, mean, or paranoid.

The Gift of Fear illustrates the vital importance of acknowledging, assessing, and acting on our own fear instincts through a series of chilling victim accounts, and provides an intense and informative tutorial on how to predict violent encounters and how to spot the warning signs of an aggressive personality. Rather than rampant fear mongering, De Becker explains how to evaluate and disregard, or act on, possible threats to yourself or loved ones. The victim accounts provided serve as a teaching tool – not to thrill – but to show the different tactics an assailant may use and the signals present before an attack.

We have all been in a situation where we should have listened to our fear, and did not. I know I have. The Gift of Fear helped me to recognize and pay attention to my own instincts, without feeling the need to stifle or rationalize them away. It validated my decision to be 100% unapologetic about the safety of my family, instead of worrying about popular opinion. More than anything, it gave that still, small voice in the back of my head a megaphone and a license to use it.

Whether our ability to sense danger is biological in nature, divine in origin, or both, I believe that we can all agree it is a gift and one we would be wise to train ourselves to hear. The Gift of Fear is a gripping, instructive, and essential read for anyone concerned about their own personal safety or that of their family.

For more information on The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker visit his website at

My rating: 5 Stars. Not necessarily fun...but essential.

Sum it up: A slightly disturbing, highly informative must-read for anyone concerned about their own personal safety or the safety of their families. It is for men or women, for the young, for the old, for those about to go to college, for anyone who works, or for those who have concerns about someone in their short, this book is for EVERYONE.


Sweet Em said...

What about the unwarranted fear. Does this book help you increase the "efficiency" of your fear? Meaning does it help you get rid of some fear you don't need to have, or just add to fear you already have?

MindySue said...

I actually think it does a really good job of addressing the issue of unwarranted fear. It talks about the reasons for fear and how to evaluate and discard fears that are unwarranted, unlikely, or unreasonable. I think you would be happy with the well-rounded content of the book. He manages to do quite a lot of exploration and still keep it interesting. Honestly, the issues that he addresses in this book (the scary ones) are fears that every woman likely already has...(rape, intruder, etc) but by giving you ways to recognize real threats, its actually quite empowering.

JoAnn said...

I love the review and it makes me want to run out and get this book. Thanks for sharing.

Sweet Em said...

This book came up in church discussion today.

MindySue said...

In what way?? Good/ Bad?


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