The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
Whenever somebody does something reprehensible, friends, family members and co-workers always say they had no idea so-and-so was capable of murder, rape, molestation, etc. However, that's often 100% bullshit. Dangerous people constantly show others what they're truly capable of, but we always want to give others the benefit of the doubt and make excuses for them.
The guy who shot and killed the reporter and cameraman in Virginia was a disgruntled employee who had been the cause of numerous complaints before he was fired. He also faxed a 23-page manifesto to his employer the night before committing live executions the following morning. Yet most people who know him are going to bend over backwards to claim they never thought he was capable of murder.
A fellow DLer once recommended The Gift of Fear as required reading, and even though I'm only halfway through it I'd say it's changed the way I view the world. Has anyone else read if? While I hope I don't have any future murderers in my orbit, I've been able to identify people who exhibit creepy behaviors and create some separation between us. And surprisingly, the book doesn't leave you paranoid...just more aware of the world around you.
|by Anonymous||reply 66||06/28/2020|
[quote]A fellow DLer once recommended The Gift of Fear as required reading, and even though I'm only halfway through it I'd say it's changed the way I view the world. Has anyone else read if? While I hope I don't have any future murderers in my orbit, I've been able to identify people who exhibit creepy behaviors and create some separation between us. And surprisingly, the book doesn't leave you paranoid...just more aware of the world around you.
That recommender may have been me, years ago. It's an eye-opening book, and was even more so when it originally was published.
Two things stuck with me a lot: de Becker says that "animal intuition" about strangers ("Fifi didn't like George from the start") isn't their intuition -- they're picking up on subconscious signals that their owner doesn't trust someone.
He also said that in cases of stalking or unsolved killings, where there isn't an obvious suspect, a valuable question to throw out to friends and acquaintances is, "If you had to guess, who do you think did it?" He said he often gets responses that start "Well... this isn't really fair, because I don't have any concrete reason for saying so, but..." -- and then the friend or acquaintance names the person who ends up being caught. Again, it's tapping into the subconscious and trying to override most people's innate attempt to be "fair."
|by Anonymous||reply 1||08/26/2015|
I've mentioned the book once or twice on DL too ............... it is quite good and the opening section is CHILLING.
de Becker talks to the victim of a home invasion/murder attempt about WHY she listened to the intruder (who told her he wouldn't hurt her and would be right back) and didn't fight back ....and then proceeded to stealthy follow him (as he walked to the kitchen for a knife) and walked straight out her front door and into a neighbor's apartment
Through questioning about that night, he gets her to recall that before he told her that and left the room, he had closed her bedroom window and she realized he intended to kill her (and wanted to prevent her screams being heard)
Bottom line, it is all about trusting your first instincts and your body following what your mind recognized and processed so quickly that later you can't easily explain 'why did you do it ?'
Once again, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
|by Anonymous||reply 2||08/26/2015|
Another book I see is Red Flags by an Asst d.a. In San Diego
Lots of freaks out there
|by Anonymous||reply 3||08/26/2015|
I've recommended that book here too. de Becker talks about how women are taught to disregard their hunches, and how insane it is to worry that they'll insult men if they don't want to step into a soundproof, steel box of an elevator with a stranger if he gives us the willies. When he interviews straight couples who've received threats, he asks, "Is there anyone you know who could do this?" And the husband always says no way, can't think of anyone. And then de Becker turns to the wife because she's going to say, "Well, I feel bad saying this, but," and then names a friend or former acquaintance who gave her the creeps. And that's the suspect, always.
Agreed that each time we hear of an incident like today's shooting, people express surprise. I guess if they said, "I knew it, I knew it all along," it would be strange but nobody snaps and starts shooting. It's like Chris Rock said after Siegfried or Roy got eaten by the tiger and people said, "The tiger went crazy": The tiger didn't go crazy, the tiger went tiger.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||08/26/2015|
I'm on the section that deals with workplace violence. The following excerpt from an article in today's New York Times raised all kinds of red flags (which were ignored):
[quote]“He was a good on-air performer, pretty good reporter, and then things started getting a little strange with him,” Don Shafer, who worked with Mr. Williams at WTWC, said in a broadcast on the station where he now works in San Diego. He said Mr. Williams’ contract had been terminated, in part, because of bizarre behavior and threats to other employees.
|by Anonymous||reply 5||08/26/2015|
Sounds like a great read, thanks for bringing it up OP.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||08/26/2015|
I worked with a guy who use to joke that he would come back with a gun if they ever fired him. No one else laughed. There was an incident once where I was convinced - and so was he - that he would and should be fired, and I decided that if he was, I would quit on the spot. I was that convinced and afraid. I knew he was off the day I met him. And so do most people. Listen to your inner voice.
|by Anonymous||reply 7||08/26/2015|
de Becker coined the phrase "forced teaming," which I've seen played out time and again since he labeled it:
[quote]Forced teaming: An effective way to establish premature trust because a “we’re in the same boat” attitude is hard to rebuff without feeling rude. [Forced teaming] is not about coincidence; it is intentional and directed, and it is one of the most sophisticated manipulations. The detectable signal of forced teaming is the projection of a shared purpose or experience where none exists: “Both of us”; “We’re some team”; “How are we going to handle this?”; “Now we’ve done it,” etc…
In the case r2 mentions, the woman is having trouble getting groceries upstairs. A friendly man helps her and notices that among the groceries is cat food. "Come on," he says jovially, "looks like we've got a hungry cat upstairs!" And the woman, who's uncomfortable with the familiarity from a person she's never met, overrides her feelings (for fear of being rude) and allows him to help her upstairs and into her apartment — where she barely survives an attack.
|by Anonymous||reply 8||08/26/2015|
does he talk about Olivia Newton-John's stalker? I think he helped her with him.
|by Anonymous||reply 10||08/27/2015|
[quote]does he talk about Olivia Newton-John's stalker? I think he helped her with him.
He does, a bit.
In fact, if there's one fault with the book, it's his celebrity name-dropping and ass-kissing, which gets to be a bit unctuous.
|by Anonymous||reply 11||08/27/2015|
[quote]There was an incident once where I was convinced - and so was he - that he would and should be fired, and I decided that if he was, I would quit on the spot. I was that convinced and afraid.
All day yesterday I kept thinking "What if this happened at my job?" Today I see my employer's security department has announced they're working to make sure our remote productions are safer. They also remind everyone about the employee assistance program.
One good thing about my job is I'm so insignificant nobody would bother shooting me.
|by Anonymous||reply 12||08/27/2015|
Fantastic book. I read it almost out of guilt, after I broke up with a guy who was starting to act strangely. I well might have gone back to this guy had the book convinced me to trust my instincts rather than feel sorry for him. Turns out the guy did have very deep-seated problems--he stalked me on and off for two years, but my therapist at the time told me it would have been worse if I'd allowed myself to get further involved with him.
We were taught too well to be polite and friendly in our society, to everyone we encounter. Evildoers will take advantage of that every time.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||08/27/2015|
I recommended the book to someone who posted here that they were being stalked by an ex and didn't know whether to be worried about it.
I thought of de Becker when this Virginia story was breaking. This guy was clearly high risk. Volatile, poor impulse control, conflict orientated, b=nursing grudges and perceived slights. The thing is, the employer acted responsibly in firing him. There is nothing they could have done to protect the two employees who he killed in a public place two years after they fired him.
The mistake that was sadly made was for the reporter and the camera guy to have ignored the guy's presence. They may have escaped with wounds but alive if their instincts - which I'm sure were telling them 'that guy is bad news ' had been allowed to kick into a 'flight' response.
De Becker's best advice for me, was never be afraid of what a stranger or an aggressive person thinks of you. Say NO to them. Cut them off. Walk out of the room . Refuse to get in the elevator they are in. It doesn't matter if a person who is creeping you out thinks you are rude or crazy or over reacting. Just take care of yourself and trust your gut feelings about others.
|by Anonymous||reply 14||08/27/2015|
I had a stalker for two years. The book would have been a great help to me when it all started. I would have been more assertive when talking to the dick detectives who did nothing.
The famous line from the book is about how women and men have fundamentally different fears, and we can't equate the two: "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
Now, he presents that line without attribution, but I think it might have been Margaret Atwood who said it. More along the lines of:
"Novelist Margaret Atwood writes that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, 'They are afraid women will laugh at them.' When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, 'We're afraid of being killed.'
I met a man once who went on and on about how he was insulted when a woman stepped out of the elevator when he got in. He was huge, covered in tattoos, looked like a scary dude. And I asked why he was so bothered by that if her fear, however unfounded, was that he's rape or kill or rob her. He genuinely felt personally insulted. I asked, "Do you have any sisters?" Nope.
|by Anonymous||reply 15||08/27/2015|
We've all had a loud, obnoxious, socially clueless, low-IQ, short-tempered co-worker. Mine irritated the fuck out of everyone, but was particularly weird with women. He expected them to either treat him like a big strong alpha male and defer to him, or treat him like a darling little boy who should be praised for everything, and he got to choose whether he was the alpha male or the helpless little boy at any given moment. His female co-workers and supervisors thought he was a creep, but he did his job and there was no cause to fire him.
After a couple of years he married a mousy loser girl, and everyone was hugely relieved when he quit and found a job in a "good Christian town" 500 miles away. A year after that we hear that his mousy little wife is dead at thirty, and the police are talking to him! He was never brought to trial, but yeah, that's an instance when I think my instincts about a creepy guy were correct.
|by Anonymous||reply 16||08/27/2015|
Great comments all, but what were the victims supposed to do to protect themselves? I'm reading that the female newscaster never even met the shooter?
|by Anonymous||reply 17||08/27/2015|
[quote]Great comments all, but what were the victims supposed to do to protect themselves? I'm reading that the female newscaster never even met the shooter?
True. Some of the book is real-life case studies (and how little the police can do against a stalker-type threat), while the rest of it is how to recognize when you might be afraid and why.
Unfortunately, in today's climate, de Becker would probably be accused of "victim blaming."
|by Anonymous||reply 18||08/27/2015|
So how do you delineate between the true oddballs who are harmless and the people who really will snap to violence? Because I know some weird fucks!
|by Anonymous||reply 19||08/27/2015|
I know what you mean, about de Becker probably facing accusations of victim blaming, but as a victim (stalking), I would say reading his book was like reading about how to take care of myself, how to assert myself. If I took a martial arts class, it would be similar. It's about learning not only how to pay attention, but learning to pay attention to what you've already noticed and tamped down as socially unkind, or jumping to conclusions.
About the shooter: Really, if the person who sold him a gun were honest, could he say that there was absolutely nothing creepy about this man? Could his therapist say he was a healthy man who just wanted to strengthen his communication tools? Could the people who were connected to him on Facebook say in all sincerity that nah, he was just blowing off steam with his crazy posts, and there was nothing fucked up and alarming about him?
We come into contact with weird people all the time, and sometimes the weirdness is harmless and other times it sets off alarms. We tend to make fun of the former group and slink away from doing anything about the latter group, creepy weirdos, the future rampaging murderers. Fear is mocked and mockery is a relief.
|by Anonymous||reply 20||08/27/2015|
Does anyone know how Vester Flanagan knew exactly where and at what time he would find Allison Parker and Adam Ward? He had to have gotten the information from the tv station somehow.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||08/27/2015|
R19, a harmless person doesn't behave in ways that make others feel their adrenalin pumping or the hairs on their arms raise up, or their heart rate start increasing. or an urge to flee. the de Becker book is about that : the feelings of fear that your body produces to warn you that you are in danger.
We've all been around people who have habits which grate on our last nerve and there are some people who are just very difficult to communicate with and be around. But irritation and fear are very distinct. You know instinctively whether someone else is simply irritating or whether they are actually dangerous. Your body tells you.
This is what de Becker sets out so well in the book. Our primal, self-protecting instincts are alert all the time to signs of danger. And we can either suppress the instinct to act self-protectively when those instincts are set off, or we can act self-protectively. The book kind of gives you permission to acknowledge, trust and act on those instinctive feelings of fear that we experience when in the presence of danger.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||08/27/2015|
Workplace violence is a tough one. I've experienced an employee (from a department my team supported) that had outbursts at work. I reported him to HR and his manager initiated the company process of progressive discipline).
People were scared of him (he also had run ins with people within his own department) ........ ultimately when he received warnings about his work performance, he left the company (taking all of his equipment 'hostage')
He was considered AWOL, terminated via certified letter and was paid a visit by the police department regarding the 'stolen' equipment, etc.
Pretty much when it all happened 'XXXXX XXXXX left the company' was communicated (our division was very good advising employees when someone left (because of clients calling in, etc) ---- people would've avoided him if they saw him in public and wouldn't have let him in to the office area.
BUT --- there is always still risk ........the receptionist would've had to deal with him (as she does angry clients that come to the office) ..............even though trained on protocol, new employees could've left him in (if he was following behind them).
As others have said, it is best to report a person when their behavior warrants it, This guy was always really nice to me, even after I reported him to HR. Of course, he didn't look at me as 'his boss' or 'the company' (even though I was a company manager. I listened and lent him a sympathetic ear, even though I supported company rules and job goals/responsibilities. I just tried to nicely express that the job I stressful, challenging AND NOT FOR EVERYONE.
The scary think is that our company is required to report last salary and time employed (and that is it) ..... so no one potentially hiring him knew they were hiring a potential time bomb.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||08/27/2015|
After reading that book, I now know to not put myself in situations that might make a woman feel vulnerable. I don't follow women closely when walking through a parking garage; I purposely give them plenty of space. Unless it's a very public place during regular business hours, I won't get on an elevator with a lone woman aboard. And I never venture an opinion to a woman about her appearance unless asked. A women does not need affirmation from a stranger about her looks, even if you're just saying, "You look nice today." You wouldn't do the same thing to a man you don't know; there's no reason to do it to a woman. We all have mothers, sisters, daughters, women we're close to. It costs us nothing to be sensitive to their fears.
|by Anonymous||reply 24||08/27/2015|
The Gift of Fear changed my life, and probably saved it. Listen to your inner warning bell. Always.
|by Anonymous||reply 25||08/27/2015|
The cameraman had no idea the guy was coming. The interviewer and interviewee probably did, but the interviewee took her cues from the professionals, and the interviewer had probably been trained to ignore all activity during a shot. I don't see de Becker helping out here.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||08/27/2015|
I also think people's fear or lack thereof is a function of their emotional state, not necessarily objective facts.
|by Anonymous||reply 27||08/27/2015|
The feeling of experiencing fear is an objective fact, R27. All de Becker's book says is, that your intuition works in your interests. It doesn't actually matter that you can't prove that the guy who creeped you in the empty parking lot was intent on harming you - the important thing is that you get away from him if you feel fear.
|by Anonymous||reply 28||08/27/2015|
I agree about acting on your gut instinct even if you seem rude for doing it. One time I took my niece to the movie theater to see a kids' movie. The theater was full of kids and parents. My niece was sitting to my left. Then a middle aged guy, by himself, came and sat next to my niece. I immediately told my niece to go sit on my right, leaving a chair between me and that guy. He sat there for a little while then left the theater. He may not had intended to do anything and felt offended but I was not about to take a chance on letting anything happen to my niece. I have no regrets at all even if i had offended that guy.
|by Anonymous||reply 29||08/27/2015|
r29, if he had nothing worry about, he would have smiled and admired your smart decision. He would not have left the theatre. Either way, good on you.
|by Anonymous||reply 30||08/27/2015|
I saw him on C-SPAN (Booknotes?) with Brian Lamb when the book came out. I've remembered SO much of that interview .
I reference it all the time with customers. It resonated because I'd usually been a person who trusted my gut feelings. I think some of it comes from the times when I didn't listen to the little voice. Things don't turn out well, to whatever degree and I think, next time I'll trust that instinct,until it becomes second nature.
The experiment with the elevator is something that sticks with everyone. And it was an experiment. They set-up CCTV to record how many times single women would get into an elevator with a large man in dark clothes with his face partially obscured, late at night.
The number of women who got on was shocking. The point was that you could actually SEE the moment where the women make the choice to either get on the elevator or not. And that was what the author was trying to explain. The internal alarm was the same for all the subjects, yet some chose to listen to it while others were embarrassed and walked right into a potentially dangerous situation.
Thank you for the thread OP, I really enjoyed it.
|by Anonymous||reply 31||08/27/2015|
I found a used copy on amazon. Thanks for the recommendation. The book sounds interesting
|by Anonymous||reply 32||08/27/2015|
Just found this, haven't watched it yet
|by Anonymous||reply 33||08/27/2015|
In a former life, i worked around a lot of law enforcement types. I remember when this book came out, one of the captain's gave several women on staff copies of the book. He told them to always listen to that inner voice because doing so could save their life.
|by Anonymous||reply 34||08/27/2015|
Our natural fear triggers are probably overstimulated in urban or high-stress environments. Walk down a city street and you see crazy people swatting at imaginary demons, young idiots trying to look like they rule the street, sociopathic executives who dispossess working people for a living, the neighbor couple that has screaming punching fights every night, men who have that "My life is fucked and I hate the entire world because of it" mass murderer look on their faces every day, etc. We have to ignore our instincts if we want to get anything done, or enjoy life at all.
I suppose the process of paying attention to some of our instincts and ignoring others is what we call "street smarts".
|by Anonymous||reply 35||08/28/2015|
On the contrary, we need to listen to our instincts if you want to enjoy life, R35. Those characters you describe as part and parcel of urban life - well most of us instinctively are going to avoid contact, cross the street if they start following us, and refuse to engage in any approach they might make.
You cannot enjoy life if you allow all those strangers who are either behaving strangely or with obvious aggression to importune you as you are going about your business. You have to learn to filter some people out. That doesn't mean not stopping to help some stranger who needs genuine assistance, but it does mean trusting your gut when some smooth talking stranger approaches you are starts 'forced teaming' or harassing you .
You also cannot enjoy life if you end up in relationship with some nut. De Becker's book shows you what to avoid when dating, which applies to gay guys and lesbians as much as het women and there is a great chapter on how to turn down unwanted dates / pursuers - you say it once, without ambiguity , and you do not negotiate 'no'.
Also there's a chapter on stalkers. The good news is that most of them are not a physical threat, and if you ignore each and any attempt to communicate with you, eventually most of them stop.
|by Anonymous||reply 36||08/28/2015|
That's interesting R34, since cops are notorious for stalking and terrorizing anyone who dates to break up with them.
|by Anonymous||reply 37||08/28/2015|
Ha! Add me to the list of possible GoF recommenders! The "unasked-for help" info has stayed with me the most. Men, let the woman ASK you for aid with her packages or whatever; if you walk up to her without warning, be aware that you can be, and ought to be, perceived as a threat.
|by Anonymous||reply 39||08/28/2015|
I'm going to read this. My office is located in a suburban office park and a few years ago there was a disgruntled employee in the office next door with a gun. I happened to look outside my ground floor office window and saw a S.W.A.T. team in full gear right outside my window. The situation was resolved peacefully and not one person said, "I don't know what happened, he must have just snapped." Instead, they all said it was just a matter of time until he snapped, and he did.
|by Anonymous||reply 40||08/28/2015|
The racial element complicates his advice of putting your safety first at the expense of maybe seeming rude to a stranger. If I'm a white female and I'm aware of black-on-white rape statistics, I'm going to treat black male strangers with more suspicion. That may be racist but it's also rational.
|by Anonymous||reply 41||08/28/2015|
r41 = Sarah Palin
Btw, your chance of getting raped by a stranger is very small. Be more concerned about the people in your everyday life.
|by Anonymous||reply 42||08/28/2015|
[quote]Does anyone know how Vester Flanagan knew exactly where and at what time he would find Allison Parker and Adam Ward? He had to have gotten the information from the tv station somehow.
The station had promoted the interview she'd be doing at the such-and-such shopping center that was about to be opened. I think she also tweeted about it, so Flanagan knew they would be in a pretty remote spot to put his plan into action.
What's interesting is that station employees back in the booth were able to identify the shadowy figure the camera captured after Ward fell thus giving the police a leg up.
|by Anonymous||reply 43||08/28/2015|
R42 is right. You are far more at risk of rape or any form of violence from an intimate partner or ex partner than a stranger. Which is why we all - gay and straight - need to learn the signs of a dangerous person, which have nothing to do with the color of their skin R41, to help us get into relationships with safe types only.
|by Anonymous||reply 44||08/28/2015|
[quote]There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating.
Tut tut. I wonder if Jesse Jackson ever apologized for the appalling statement above? How racist!
|by Anonymous||reply 45||08/28/2015|
[quote]I happened to look outside my ground floor office window and saw a S.W.A.T. team in full gear right outside my window.
Damn. 'Rough day at the office, dear?'
|by Anonymous||reply 46||08/28/2015|
This book is free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, btw.
|by Anonymous||reply 48||08/28/2015|
If you're going to say something is required reading, you need to give more information. Why?
|by Anonymous||reply 50||06/28/2020|
just got this on audible. listening now.
|by Anonymous||reply 51||06/28/2020|
Another 2015 thread bumped? Can't the troll even bother starting its own threads, if it's so desperate to bury some kind of discussion around here?
|by Anonymous||reply 53||06/28/2020|
What's up with the 2015 bumper?
|by Anonymous||reply 54||06/28/2020|
I like the bumper. I also don't get it- if someone starts a thread they get screamed at 'there was already a thread in this 5 times over 10 years! you should find one of them!' if one gets bumped people complain too.
anyway, I recommend this book to all of the women in my life. I didn't really need to read it because I am basically an animal who doesn't care what anyone thinks and prioritizes myself over anyone's feelings.
|by Anonymous||reply 55||06/28/2020|
I have mixed feelings about this book and the way it's constantly quoted. Some of the advice is great. It's excellent to follow your instincts, however we are all human and capable of erring in our judgement. Often people can get "bad vibes " from people who are merely oddballs, eccentric, or even poorly dressed. I've seen situations where charismatic sociopaths endear themselves to everyone but everyone gets skeeved out by someone who is just weird rather than monstrous.
|by Anonymous||reply 56||06/28/2020|
Two weeks ago I was on the Red Line in Houston. A guy about 28-32 started arguing angrily with a woman seated across the aisle from me. He decided she was staring at him. He was loud, hostile and vulgar. I think he was drinking from a can of beer, but am not sure because I didn't want him to think I was staring at him. The woman recoiled, and he just kept on ranting. She got off at the next stop. He hadn't noticed me yet. I decided to get off at the next stop in case he did notice me next. Then I called Metro Police and reported the car number he was in and gave his description.
I realize this is a more obvious sign of danger than the subtle creepiness we detect in co-workers. At any rate, I decided to get the fuck out of there and to let the police decide how dangerous he was. I waited until the next train came and then continued north.
|by Anonymous||reply 57||06/28/2020|
I don’t want to sound overdramatic, but I think this book probably saved my life, or at least saved me from serious harm.
|by Anonymous||reply 58||06/28/2020|
I was stalked Intermittently for 11 years and I found this book absolutely excellent. My stalker finally died of cancer: It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a relative of mine, and I was so unbelievably ashamed of the bizarre situation. I never ever talk about it anymore. De Becker talks about how dangerous it is to send legal documents to the stalker, because of how enraged they get.
|by Anonymous||reply 59||06/28/2020|
The Gift of Fear is readily available online free in pdf format, and is well worth a read.
|by Anonymous||reply 60||06/28/2020|
R59 A relative? That's nuts. Did you have some sort of falling out with them before they started stalking you? Not blaming you in the least , I'm just curious if something preceded it or it just started randomly.
|by Anonymous||reply 61||06/28/2020|
R61 It was a relative I was abused by as a child. When they lost custody, the stalking started.
|by Anonymous||reply 62||06/28/2020|
R62 How awful. I would usually never be glad for someone to have terminal cancer but in this case it was probably for the best.
|by Anonymous||reply 63||06/28/2020|
This is probably the most recommended book on internet message boards in the history of the world.
|by Anonymous||reply 64||06/28/2020|
This is probably the most recommended book on internet message boards in the history of the world.
|by Anonymous||reply 65||06/28/2020|
^ Sorry for the double post. I didn't hit enter twice. My keyboard must be possessed!
|by Anonymous||reply 66||06/28/2020|