The Gift of Fear
Survival Signals That Protect Us From ViolencePaperback - 1999
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 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 more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.
From the Paperback edition.
From the critics
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pg 64: “’No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.”
pg 69: “Remember, the nicest guy, the guy with no self-serving agenda whatsoever, the one who wants nothing from you, won’t approach you at all. You are not comparing the man who approaches you to all men, the vast majority of whom have no sinister intent. Instead, you are comparing him to other men who make unsolicited approaches to women alone, or to other men who don’t listen when you say no.”
pg 58: “We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. People seeking to control others almost always present the image of a nice person in the beginning. Like rapport building, charm, and the deceptive smile, unsolicited niceness often has a discoverable motive.”
My childhood wasn't a movie, of course, though it did have chase sequences, fight scenes, shoot-outs, skyjacking, life-and-death suspense, and suicide. The plot didn't make much sense to me as a boy, but it does now.
We want to believe that with all the possible combinations of human beings and human feelings, predicting violence is as difficult as picking the winning lottery ticket, yet it is usually isn't difficult at all. We want to believe that human violence is somehow beyond our understanding, because as long as it remains a mystery, we have no duty to avoid it, explore it, or anticipate it. We need feel no responsibility for failing to read signals if there are none to read. We can tell ourselves that violence just happens without warning, and usually to others, but in service of these comfortable myths, victims suffer and criminals prosper.
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