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Question: As one who read the book, how do you rate this book?
Excellent - 19 (82.6%)
Good - 4 (17.4%)
Fair - 0 (0%)
Poor - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 23

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Author Topic: The Gift of Fear - Gavin De Becker  (Read 14700 times)
clean slate
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Posts: 564

« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2010, 11:41:51 PM »

I read "The Gift of Fear" upon the recommendation of my therapist, and I'm so glad I did.  As hard as it was to get through the chapters that applied to my specific situation (spousal abuse), I learned so much.  He lists 30 pre-incident indicators for abuse and potentially murder.  My stbxh displayed 18 to me.  Holy cow!  My eyes were opened to a lot of other things in the book, too, and I'm glad I read it.

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Posts: 46

« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2010, 09:44:40 PM »

I read the book several years ago. One thing that I took away from it was a new found respect for my own reactions, instincts, and intuitions about people.

Having a BP mother and (significantly older) sister, I had been taught to reject my own reactions and feelings, because they usually triggered a BP rage.

As an adult engaged in the healing process, I found it really helpful to have instincts, intuitions about situations and people framed in a manner that forced me to take them seriously.

In the book, it is explained that our brains take in enormous amounts of sensory information...we see, hear, smell, and feel many different things without them even registering. This is because our brain also sorts out what is relevant.

When we experience fear, it is because a number of things we have seen, heard, or otherwise perceived have become relevant in their cumulative effect.

Instead of making all of the things we have seen come into awareness, the brain creates the emotion of fear because we are in danger and don't have time to sift through facts. It is time to act.
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« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2010, 12:44:01 PM »

Good book - especially for those who may have never been exposed to situations where a threat is lurking in the shadows. Thought it even more relevant because its conclusions are supported by real-life examples. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone whose interested in protecting themselves and their loved ones.

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Posts: 102

« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2011, 05:23:06 PM »

I am new to realizing that both my parents are extremely screwed up.  My mother has BPD, and my dad is NPD.  I always said that I am a poor judge of character and tend to 'gravitate toward' the more shady, dangerous people--unknowingly.  And then have to tell those people to get lost once I find out who/what they really are.  I do think I have a damaged intuition, or fear 'radar'.  What an interesting thing to find out.

Oh, and about the 'strings attached'---boy, can I relate to that!  Even in high school, I didn't want my folks to buy me clothes or anything else that wasn't necessary for my survival because I would hear about it for the rest of my life. 
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2011, 08:06:38 PM »

I've had a deep respect and affection for this book ever since it literally saved my life or prevented me being raped.

--I did not stick around to find out which, as I did listen to my intuition -- and it was only that; there was no overt threat, just a "funny feeling" of the sort Becker tells one to respect. I had recently read the book, and I did respect the funny feeling this guy gave me, even though he had already passed me and was getting farther ahead of me and I definitely felt sort of stupid turning 180 degrees and hastening away back the way I had come instead of continuing on homewards. I immediately stopped feeling stupid, though, after I had turned around and he did too and ran after me and grabbed at me and knocked me over. (Becker notes that women are killed and injured constantly because they feel embarrassed to act on their instincts and "make a fuss" when a fuss turns out to be exactly what is needed for them to be safe. So though I felt embarrassed, I also mentally said, "Forget that feeling for the moment; I will worry about it later if I turn out to be wrong.")

Anyway, since I was already fleeing in the right direction -- towards people and safety -- he only succeeded in knocking me farther the "right" way -- the way I needed to go -- and momentum and adrenaline had me back to my feet in a catlike bounce I'm sure I would not be capable of if I were not in flight mode. Ditto w/ how I levitated over a busy street and raced up to the guard booth of a condo complex and pounded on the door until the guard let me in, and asked him to call the police. (Though by then I think I was already safe; i think the guy ran off when I started shouting my head off. I didn't look back to see, though. I did remember to shout "Fire! instead of "Help!", as people will come running to see a fire but head away from someone yelling "Help." Since the guy was unarmed, I didn't feel I was putting people in danger, just scaring him off with their gathering numbers and attention. I think Becker mentions that, although I may have picked it up in a high-school self-defense class.)

This all happened in Marina del Rey, which is one of the posher neighborhoods of West LA and does not have much of a record at all -- probably barely any -- of totally random stranger assaults on sober women bicycling on bike paths alongside well-trafficked streets.

But this sort of thing does happen. I have avoided far more such situations by foreseeing them and avoiding them altogether, well in advance; this was the only one in my life where things developed so fast and unexpectedly, I was pursued, grabbed, knocked over, and had to run yelling like a banshee; but once would have been far more than enough. I escaped because I had the gift, not of constant fear, not of living in fear; but of knowing that fear in some situations is the correct response and should be allowed to trigger the escape-and-evade response it does, and that response should be allowed to take charge of one's behavior, because the limbic system is infinitely faster and smarter than the forebrain when it comes to survival imperatives. (It actually cuts the forebrain out of the response loop, or tries to and will if one hasn't had the misfortune to have been conditioned to suppress it, because there is no time to ponder in some situations; threat recognition has to immediately trigger adrenaline release has to stop all nonessential body functions and send one's blood to the major muscles and away from the vulnerable life-supporting organs and the loop has to be hindbrain straight to muscles to get one moving, faster than it takes to loop all the way up through the executive functions, which take conscious reflection, which takes so bloody long you are likely to be dead by the time you decide to approve the flight order; and can then reconsider your mistake at infinity's leisure.)

Our emotions have been keeping us alive since before we were amphibians. We've only had conscious thought for about 100,000 years, and may well be the only earth animal that fully has it at all; so clearly it is not necessary for survival; but it can definitely interfere with it; which is why the body tries to cut it out of the loop altogether when real threat registers (which practically never happens on the level of conscious thought; it is a vague unease of the sort that we are only here because our ancestors didn't --and for much much longer couldn't -- decide it was just paranoia, and ignore it.)

Becker doesn't say "Live in fear." He says, "You need not live in nearly as much pointless fear if you exercise high situational awareness and know what sort of fear is in fact often indicative of an imminent threat (a feeling of vague but real unease when out and about, say; or when alone with a man who gives you the willies) vs. what is just keeping your life constricted (phobias, say)." Being afraid to fly will just constrict one's life. Being afraid to run when one's nerves are screaming "Something is *wrong*; don't try to figure out what you're perceiving, just get away now and find other people who will help or scare off danger if needed, and analyze later," can save one's life; and sometimes more than one's life, as there are things worse than a quick death.

It's not paranoia, it's listening to the wisdom of the subconscious and not impeding the bodily survival response it will trigger when survival may be at stake.

Or so I learned, and lived.
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Health - even mental health - is a choice.

« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2012, 02:02:05 PM »

Mr. de Becker is an expert in threat assessment [he designed the threat assessment system used by Supreme Court Judges, Congresspersons, and CIA officials] and a private-security specialist, and also had personal experience in a violent environment when he was growing up.
The quick and dirty synopsis of the book is: trust your gut. Sounds simplistic, but de Becker shows how many people unwisely discount their intuition when something's wrong - whether through denial, rationalization, or social rules. He tells the harrowing, terrifying story of a young woman whose gut feelings helped her escape becoming the second murder victim of a serial rapist - even though denying her initial gut feelings are what put her in the dangerous situation to begin with:
...listening to one small survival signal saved her life, just as failing to follow so many others had put her at risk in the first place.

This goes along with the Red Flag we talk about here on BPDFamily.com a lot. I know in my own personal situations, I have come to regret ignoring them, especially recently when I was assaulted in my own home by someone I did not know very well, after having ignored many many red flags. I'm okay and it's been a good learning experience, but I wish I had instead read this book before this happened, rather than after... But I am definitely much the wiser now, and this book was very informative (although the end part drags a bit).
Chapter 4: "Survival Signals" is very helpful, as it lays out manipulative strategies people who are trying to get your guard down use, usually for criminal purposes:
  • 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.The detectable signal of forced teaming is the projection of a shared purpose or experience where none exists: "Both of us", "How are we going to handle this?"

  • Charm and Niceness: Charm is almost always a directed instrument...which has motive. To charm is to compel, to control by allure or attraction. Niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait.

  • Too Many Details: every type of "con" relies upon distracting us from the obvious. The defense for too many details is simple: Bring the context into conscious thought (for example, "I have asked him to leave twice.")

  • The Unsolicited Promise: They are the very hollowest instruments of speech, showing nothing more than the speaker's desire to convince you of something. It's useful to ask yourself: "Why does this person need to convince me?"

  • DISCOUNTING THE WORD NO: this is perhaps the most universally significant one of all: a man's* ignoring or discounting the concept of no. Declining to hear "no" is a signal that someone is either seeking control or refusing to relinquish it.

*Here de Becker is referring to rapes, the majority of which are inarguably committed by men on women. However, for all other situations he acknowledges both sexes as perpetrators - as we are well aware of here at BPDFamily.com that abuse/victimization crosses gender lines.

Act as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference. ~a wise buddhist
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