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Template:Primary sources The Gift of Fear is a nonfiction self help book (1997) written by Gavin de Becker. The book provides strategies to help readers avoid trauma and violence by teaching them various warning signs and precursors to violence.

Text summary

De Becker's book presents a paradox of genre: described as a "how-to book that reads like a thriller."[1] By finding patterns in stories of violence and abuse, de Becker seeks to highlight the inherent predictability of violence. The book explores various settings where violence may be found—the workplace, the home, the school, dating—and describes what de Becker calls pre-incident indicators (PINS). When properly identified these PINS can help violence be avoided; when violence is unavoidable, de Becker claims it can usually be predicted and better understood. The Gift of Fear also describes de Becker’s MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems, which have been employed by various celebrities and government agencies to predict and prevent violence.

PINS (Pre-Incident Indicators)

  • Forced Teaming. This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn't really true.
  • Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
  • Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
  • Typecasting. An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one.
  • Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to leave someone alone when none was asked for; this usually means they won't leave the person alone.
  • Discounting the Word "No". Refusing to accept rejection.


The Gift of Fear spent four months on The New York Times Bestseller List, was a #1 National Bestseller, and has been published in 14 languages.[2] The book has been endorsed by a wide variety of celebrities and experts including Marcia Clark, Carolyn Hax and Oprah Winfrey.[3]

Sources and notes

  1. de Becker, Gavin. The Gift of Fear, back cover, Dell, 1997.
  2. Main Page. Gavin de Becker and Associates Official Website
  3. de Becker, Gavin. The Gift of Fear, Dell, 1997.

Further reading

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