The Gift of Fear
How does one tell when a verbal confrontation is about to escalate into a physical fight?
How does one discern whether an adversary has lethal intent or is trying to intimidate?
Intuition is perhaps the most valuable asset a potential victim of crime can have. Without intuition, a victim will invariably wait until an attack begins before reacting. By that time the outcome of the encounter is almost a forgone conclusion. Later, if the victim survives, they often wonder what they could have done to avoid the encounter. What did they miss? How could they have known? Friends gather to comfort the victim, and themselves, by saying nobody can predict random violence. They are wrong. It does not have to be that way.
In 1997, Gavin deBecker wrote a landmark book in the dual fields of criminal psychology and self defense, The Gift of Fear. DeBecker's work in the field of predicting criminal behavior earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He was twice appointed to the President's Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Justice, and was a principal advisor on the federal research project into mentally ill people who stalk public figures. He served two years on the Governor's Advisory Board at the California Department of Mental Health. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy. As a consultant to many major media figures, government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and universities, he has overseen the assessment and management of more than 25,000 cases. Clients include the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Los Angeles County District's Attorney's Office, and many others.
In The Gift of Fear, deBecker explores the idea that the human animal is the only animal that rationalizes away it's fear. Every other animal on the planet uses survival instincts to avoid attack and thus continue to live. In humans these instincts are known as intuition. Because intuition is not logical and not understood, it is discounted. That is a mistake.
I first read The Gift of Fear back in 1998. This book is often overlooked in the realm of armed self defense, simply because deBecker is not a gun advocate. A book does not need to advocate concealed carry of lethal weapons to be relevant to self defense. The Gift of Fear is a very relevant book for those who have considered the acute possibility of a lethal attack in their future, and who want to prepare for it. Violent acts do not occur without warning. Trusting and honing one's intuition, or gut feelings if you prefer, will allow you to see the warning signs, and may save your life. The Gift of Fear is an engrossing read, but more importantly, it will place you on the path of fostering that intuition.