The Gift of Fear  

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Gift of Fear

by Gavin de Becker, 1999
Hardback, from the library

You should know

I’ve seen this book referenced in many advice columns and safety guides. It’s highly recommended across the board.


Initially, I was just intrigued by the anecdotes and advice. De Becker survived by trusting his instincts and his fear from a very early age, and has gone on to make a rather lucrative living by teaching others to do the same.

Stories of rape survivors and murder victims show instances where something seemed “off,” and how acting on this could have, or did, save lives.

A later chapter really hit home, though. It explains how to deal with “acquaintance stalkers;” that is, people who refuse to take a hint when you do not want to be involved with them romantically. I recognized, in my reading, a situation I had been in several years ago. I did everything de Becker recommended one not do; the other party did everything de Becker warned about. Further, I was given a lot of very well-meaning advice and was told to do the wrong things. What advice I got to do the right thing was never explained in a way that made sense, as de Becker did. Note: letting a guy down easy comes across as given him hope. There are some guys you just don’t want to give hope to.

Also, a late chapter explaining the difference between fear and worry explained some of my own habits.


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.

The rest of the Internet

Gavin de Becker's website.
Read an excerpt.
Salon reviews the book.
Colleen at For All the World to See called the book one that changed her life, and wrote an article passing on his tips.

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