Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: "The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect us from Violence" by Gavin de Becker

You're probably thinking that this sounds like a book that will make you paranoid and a little bit crazy. It will, but it will mostly make you feel empowered.

I'm a little bit paranoid about my safety.  I kind of always have been. I always make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, I park under lights in parking lots, I have pepper spray on my key chain. (Though I've never been mugged or assaulted or anything). This book pops up on a woman named Heather Poole's twitter account alot. She is a flight attendant and travels (a lot of time alone) a lot and she said she recommends this book to everyone. I was intrigued so I dove in.(Also if you want any proof for sure that people turn from people into animals the second they step on an airplane, follow her on twitter and passenger shaming on instagram. Lord help us)

Gavin de Becker had a very unpleasant childhood. But he grew up to be a safety expert and the author of this incredibly interesting book. It breaks down into a couple of different sections: workplace safety, relationship/spousal safety, "why you don't ever want to be a celebrity" (my title), and "it's okay to be a "bitch" if it makes you feel safe (also my title but I think very accurate).He gives different stories that follow under each of the sections I mentioned above.

Here's what it boils down to: trust your instincts. That weird little voice in your head that alerts you to an uncomfortable situation but you might not know why, don't ignore that. The one story that stuck with me the most was this (me paraphrasing): two men received a package at their office. It was suspicious. One man wanted to open it, one did not. The man who didn't want to open it made an offhand comment, something like "I'm getting out of here before that thing blows up". He walks into the hallway, the other man opens it, it explodes. Isn't it interesting that even a weird offhand comment that probably just popped into his head was his unconscious trying to send him signals that he's in danger.

He also brought up a really interesting point: in a movie, when a man relentlessly pursues a woman in a lot of cases it's supposed to be romantic and they end up together. He uses The Graduate for a longer explanation but uses other movies as well. But if a woman pursues a man in the same way in a movie, she's generally seen as crazy or psychotic and odds are that she will be dead by the end of the movie: Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

Also, if you are a lady and see another lady struggling with groceries or something and you want to be kind, ask if you can help her. Women feel less threatened by other women (which is not to say there ain't some crazy women who would jab a gun in someone's ribs, because there are) so maybe we need to circle the wagons around ourselves and each other a little bit.

I generally don't read psychology-ish books but I really think this one is worth reading. It's not often that you read a book that could literally save your life, but this one could. 4 out of 5 stars from me!



  1. Totally sounds like a book I'd enjoy! That stuff is always fascinating to me.

    1. The things that are brains do automatically and without us noticing is something I'll never comprehend.


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