Jay Wiseman's Book Review of The Gift of Fear
A friend of mine (who teaches women's self-defense classes) recommended that I read a particular book. I recently finished it, feel _very_ favorably impressed, and strongly recommend it. While it's not an SM book per se, it contains a great deal of useful information and advice that is directly relevant to what we do.
There has been a lot written on the topic topic of dealing with predatory and/or violent behavior, but very little has been published that seriously advances the body of knowledge or gives the reader calm, professional, clear- headed, useful new information. This book is one of the excellent exceptions.
Anyway, the book is called The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence and was written by Gavin De Becker; it's published by Little,Brown and its ISBN is 0-316-23502-4. It's currently in print, retails for slightly more than twenty bucks, and most bookstores should have a copy or two on the shelves.
It's author runs the De Becker Agency which, among other things, is one of the leading companies in the business of protecting celebrities from obsessed fans who stalk them. His company also designs anti-workplace-violence programs and wrote programs designed to evaluate the seriousness of threats that are used by many agencies, including the Supreme Court. In short, Mr. De Becker is a serious real-world expert on the subject of predicting, preventing, and dealing with violence.
His book addresses a number of topics, including predicting violent behavior, commonly believed myths, threat assessment, dealing with harrassing phone calls, plusses and minuses of restraining orders, dealing with people who refuse to let go, workplace violence, domestic violence, date stalking, and violent children. There are also numerous supplemental resources.
There is a chapter on detecting manipulative behavior that is truly outstanding -- one of the absolute best things I have ever read on this topic, and IMO should be required reading for all novices -- (again, IMO) particularly novice submissive women.
While I don't always agree with every single recommendation he makes, and while I wish he provided us with more information regarding how to make a clearer distinction between "normal neurotic" behavior and seriously dangerous behavior (one of the problems with the book is by the time a situation comes to the author's attention, it's usually gotten pretty extreme), you can be sure that I will be referrring to this book and asking myself "how would Gavin De Becker advise dealing with this situation" when I or someone I care about has to deal with abusive or potentially violent behavior in the future.
You can also obtain valuable information at his company's web site: www.gdbinc.com
Copyright issues footnote: I wrote this article with the hope that it would be widely read and distributed, and without any particular expectation of financial compensation in return for writing it. Therefore, I consent to the following uses of this essay:
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