A classic: "The Gift of Fear"

Discussion in 'The Library' started by Flea, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Flea

    Flea Beating you all over those fries!

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    Oprah featured this book on the tenth anniversary of its release, add I was really intrigued. It's not specifically MA-oriented, but the main thrust of the book is that we all have a hard-wired danger signal in our intuition. Intuition, quoth Gavin de Becker, can process information faster than the conscious mind can. This gives us extra time to prepare for the F&F.

    He says that predators tend to give specific signals that can tip one off - I'll expand on this for my own benefit to reinforce it in my mind:

    * Predator is very charming and engaging.

    * Predator gives too much information, more than is appropriate for the interaction. It indicates that s/he has a story to keep straight.

    * Predator creates a sense of alliance with the victim by using "we" early on in the interaction.

    * Predator manipulates the victim with something to prove - "I'll bet you're too much of a snob to talk to me."

    * Predator gives victim some kind of a freebie to incur a sense of obligation.

    * Predator makes unsolicited promises to victim.

    * Most blatantly, the predator is oblivious to the word "no."

    I was pleased to find that I knew most of these already and have been applying them for some time. (If anyone's curious, I'd be willing to share a couple war stories of disasters I've dodged. :wink1: After reading this book I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself.)

    De Becker goes through different types of violence depending on the perp's relationship to the victim in subsequent chapters - stalkers, domestic violence, workplace (including how to fire "problem" employees,) violent behavior in children, and assassins. He has a very engaging style, quite readable with lots of anecdotes. I've inhaled this book over the last few days. I'm thinking about getting my own copy, and maybe even donating a couple to my local domestic violence shelter.

    Has anyone else read this? I'd love to hear some comments.
     
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  2. Gordon Nore

    Gordon Nore Senior Master

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    Still haven't read the darn thing, but It's said to be a seminal work in the area self-defense / situational awareness. I attended an S/D workshop once where the teacher was constantly referencing the book.
     
  3. Omar B

    Omar B Senior Master

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    It's a good book, my sister has it and I've read it a couple times. It's basically "follow your gut instinct and pay attention to your surroundings." Only spread out on a couple hundred pages.

    If you've studied Bujinkan or any related style many of the core concepts about awareness are presented in here.
     
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  4. Thesemindz

    Thesemindz Senior Master

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    I think most of Gift of Fear is a great book. I think it has a lot of important lessons for men and women, and we can all learn something from reading it.

    I do take issue with some of the points towards the end of the book relating to gun control, but the general thrust of the book that we should listen to our gut and not let our civilized attitudes prevent us from recognizing danger is a worthwhile lesson for everyone.

    Definitely worth reading, and buying. Add it to your library.


    -Rob
     
  5. Flea

    Flea Beating you all over those fries!

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    I just finished it early this morning (three cheers for insomnia! Hooray! Hooray! Hoor ... what?) In the final chapter he draws a distinction between Fear and Worry. Fear is directed toward a very specific and immediate threat, and galvanizes us to action. Worry, he says, is the direct opposite. It's non-specific and tends toward inaction as it saps our energy and makes us cynical and jaded.

    Thesemindz, I almost replied with a "what do you mean?" about the gun control passage until I found it in the appendix. :) I think it's a matter of perspective. Consider growing up watching your parents shoot each other. That's a really extreme experience for anyone, much less a 10 year old. (I found it interesting that on his photo on the book jacket, you can still see "trauma" tattooed all over his face.) He writes about a lot of people in the book who have violent upbringings who turn to violence themselves. I think it's a matter of course that in turning his back on that paradigm, he would turn his back on weapons too. The whole point of a weapon, after all, is inflicting harm.

    I'm not saying this to mount a high horse, just my own perspective on his writing. Once I'm done with my paid work, I'll come back and post some more summary from the book. It's worth repeating.
     
  6. Drac

    Drac Sr. Grandmaster

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    Its a fine addition to your library....
     
  7. Thesemindz

    Thesemindz Senior Master

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    Like I said, I love the book. I recommend it to others all the time. I just think the stuff about gun control is wrong headed and based on an emotional reaction to an admittedly traumatic experience.

    But gun control is another thread. This book is excellent. Something else to consider, is that all the techniques predators use really do work. And they also work for salesman. Next time someone is selling you something on commission, a phone, or a car, or something like that, watch for these techniques.

    The sales person will charm you, and offer unsolicited information about himself to try to create a sense of raport, and use forced teaming to try to adjust your perspective, etc, etc. Many sales people use all of these same techniques to make the sale. It's interesting to watch yourself be manipulated when you can step outside of the situation and observe it objectively.


    -Rob
     
  8. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    I disliked this book.

    It made som very fine points, but I'm sorry... I disagree that

    If a man owns a firearm hes likely a violent predator.
    If a man studies Martial Arts hes likely a violent predator...
    If a man offers to help a woman it should be a red flag, cuz no good guy would just talk to a strange woman...
    If a man approches a strange woman in a bar or at a party it should be a red flag, cuz no good guy would just talk to a strange woman...

    Etc.

    I understand where the author was coming from with his experience, and from the people he interveiwed, but I think the book was rife with paranoia...

    I mean, if I interview 300 women who are all victims of a violent encounter and say, 200 of them tell me, "It started with some strange guy talking to me at a party" then I can see where that might look like it could be somthing to look at...

    But if I interveiw 900 women, 300 of them say they were victims of a violent encounter, 200 of them tell me, "It started with some strange guy talking to me at a party" and then 400 of the women who didnt have a violent encounter say "Well, I talk to strange men at parties all the time and have never been attacked" his reasoning becomes a bit skewed.

    Men and women are going to interact. That doesnt make all men evil. Men and women both will study martial arts, that doesnt make them all likely to be predators.

    I think there is somthing to be said about trusting your instincts (which was the good portion of the book) but thats somthing we have to learn to do without becoming PARANOID, which is the feeling the book left me with when I finished it.
     
  9. David Weatherly

    David Weatherly Black Belt

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    I think this is a must read title. Lots of useful information.
     
  10. Flea

    Flea Beating you all over those fries!

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    Thanks Cryozombie.

    Personally, paranoia is not what I got out of the book at all. I found it to be empowering because it gave specific signals to watch for that cut through generalized paranoia.

    As for the gun issue, de Becker speaks out for gun control but he doesn't state that people who own guns are more likely to be predators. He never draws a link between crime and MA at all, even with his specific case studies. If he had, I'd be offended too.

    I had offered to post more book summary and I will, but in a separate post. I hope the above doesn't come across as argumentative, I'm just not sure where you got the "MA'ists are predatory" stuff. Could you elaborate?
     
  11. tallgeese

    tallgeese Green Belt

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    I think it should be a must read for most MA students. Defiantly a classic and still packed with useful information.

    I'd also recommend his other book, "Protecting the Gift". It's his take on child safety and parental responsibility. Great stuff, again, a must read for all parents.
     
  12. still learning

    still learning Senior Master

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    Hello, There are more people who benifit from this book...than many others out there...! on...protecting your life!

    Great common sense information that must be told....He experiences and knowledge....came from years and years of studies,facts,actual...

    This is a must read book for everyone...you will gain knowledge for SD...

    Awareness...Avoidance...and if need..fight back...!

    Aloha,

    ps: READ for yourself...
     

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