“Gift of Fear” by D. Garvin: Issue of Violence in America


According to Garvin (1997), despite the fact that in most instances fear is viewed as a bad experience, it can also double as a gift. This takes place when an individual recognizes his fear and uses it properly to alert himself of impending danger. According to him once we tap into our instincts, we can forecast and thus avoiding an assault. Furthermore, proper utilization of our God’s given intuition will ensure that we do not become a static in matters pertaining violence against us as we are we can act on our instincts and rid of ourselves any violent act against us. In most instances rudeness is seen as a vice but according to De Becker it can be a virtue in cases where one is confronted with the danger and the only way to protect ourselves from being harmed, is by being rude, then it comes in handy. It therefore follows that acting on our intuition by either being rude, or any other way is imperative to protect us from danger.

Violence is one of the most prevalent crimes in America, despite these facts there are predictors which help identify the potential risk of violence and if we listen to our intuition we can protect ourselves from impending risk of violence (Linkins, 2002). Garvin (1997) therefore coins various concepts that would help one predict a potentially violent person.

Arguments on the dangers faced

Garvin (1997) gives an account of people who acted on their fears and hence saving their lives whilst others failed to act on them and suffered for it. One of the arguments by De Becker is that their exist messengers of Intuition which include: humour, persistent thoughts, wonder, anxiety, nagging feelings, hunches, curiosity, gut feelings, doubt, suspicion, hesitation, apprehension as well as fear. Furthermore he came up with concepts such as (PINS) pre- incident indicators of violence. Examples of PINS include: charm and niceness, forced teaming, typecasting, loan sharking, too many details, discounting the word “No”, as well as the unsolicited promise. He argues that it is important for people to learn the PINS. This is because this ensures that they are able to detect danger signs warning us of impending danger emanating from aliens. He also encourages reliance on our intuition; people are also able to make a difference between real or imagined danger. An individual can also learn whether the likelihood of a person using violence is in existence. The PINS ensures that people are not in denial for intuition to work for them.

Examples of PIN Concepts

Loan sharking is an example of a PIN term use by Garvin and it intrigues in the way he describes it, as one of the behaviour which is most prevalent with people who are potentially violent. In this case possible attackers, try to get past our confines. A person who loan sharks will give you something or do something for you to influence you into being obliged to them. On the surface it may seem as if the person is being kind to you, but in reality, they are situating you up emotionally to wane off your defences. The loan sharks get to you when you seem at the end of your tether, they offer something that seems to fine to be right, and however the repayment is not worth it.

Forced teaming is one of De Becker concepts that also intrigue me. According to this concept one may one may act in the pretext that he or she is in a familiar situation with a stranger while this is false. Most cases once a person feels in the same position as the person pretending to face the same predicament one is likely to let his or her guard down and thus putting oneself in harms way.

Type casting as one of the PINS fascinates me in the fact that it refers to an abuse directed to a person in order to trick this person to talk to a stranger that one would not talk to in normal circumstances. In case one talks to such a person one may get disarmed emotionally and get oneself in harms way.

The unsolicited promise as one of the PINS concepts also fascinates me. Here one may give an assurance not to bother someone while this not warranted but it in most cases the person making the promise will still bother you. A case in point is when a rapist tells his victim I’ll let you go I just needed to wash up. This ought to make one scared as will never happen.

According to Howard (1999), there are very few crime prevention experts who put emphasis on intuition. In its place they put emphasis that people should stay alive to the fact there is presence of crime. It is no wonder that most of the crime experts produce more fear as opposed to alleviating it. Scholars like Garvin (1997) have a philosophy different from other scholars where he puts emphasis on the importance of intuition and liberty from fear. He argues that one should steer away from envisioning horrific occurrences that may take place and should not be anxious about the existence of crime. Furthermore he argues that people should watch news less frequently to avoid unnecessary anxiety as well a distorted world view as this makes crime appear bad.

It is noteworthy that intuition comes in hardy as it helps prevent bad incidences. Acting on one’s survival signals is important as it protects one from impending danger although it might seem foolish to do so. It is important to rid ourselves of the fears in our lives to prevent the barring of survival signals.

Importance of Intuition

The main goal of Garvin (1997) is to teach us how to listen to our intuition, by studying our environment and everyone in the environment by reading the danger signs that some would otherwise ignore.

While fear as an emotion is important, emotions like anxiety and panic are not. This is because it requires taking action in the presence of danger; it also allows us to see what’s happening and react properly. This is an emotion that should be cultivated rather than conquering it. Furthermore intuition should be learned as well as developed, to ensure that we do not get trapped in dangerous situations that could be harmful to us and if this occurs we can flee from such environments immediately.


Undoubtedly the rates of violence in America are at an alarming rate. In most cases people leave the issue of security to the police to deal with it. Nevertheless from the book the Gift of Fear one learns that it is an individual’s responsibility to listen to his intuition to avoid being a victim to violent people.


Garvin, D. B. (1997) Gift of Fear Survival Signals That Protects us from Violence. New York: Little Brown and Company.

Howard, A. (1999) A Book that Dispells Crime Prevention Myth. Mesquite, TX, USA.

Linkins, J. R. (2002) FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.