Book Review: “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker

An older book review and therefore different format but deserves a blog post:

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence

by Gavin de Becker

Nikki’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 Stars

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This book was recommended by a coworker who knew I was struggling with fear and anxiety, particularly around a stalking situation. I found this book to be quite helpful in easing my stress and anxiety. I really appreciated that Gavin de Becker really stresses that intuitively we know when we are in danger and that is when we feel fear and that we just need to pay attention and act when we feel fear. Gavin de Becker argues that anxiety and worry are useless because we are usually worrying about something that isn’t likely to happen. Worry isn’t based in reality, it is not authentic, it is a choice and we can choose not to feed it. We can choose to direct our energies elsewhere and trust in ourselves that we will know when we are actually in danger and can act accordingly. Gavin de Becker includes many real stories of people listening to their instincts and being able to survive a situation where their lives were in danger. These stories are terrifying and yet provide evidence of how good our intuition can be when we listen to it. Overall this book is a great choice if you are struggling with fear, especially the fear of other people and what they may do.

Favorite Quotes:

“When you feel fear, listen. When you don’t feel fear, don’t manufacture it.”

“Few of us predict that unexpected, undesired events will lead to great things, but very often we’d be more accurate if we did.”

“The fact that most Americans live without being violent is a sign of something wonderful in us. In resisting both the darker sides of our species and the darker sides of our heritage, it is everyday Americans, not the icons of big-screen vengeance, who are the real heroes.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

Columbine

by Dave Cullen

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: Journalist David Cullen looks intensely at the events that occurred April 20, 1999 at Columbine high school when two boys showed up to school with bombs and guns. Based on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, and the boys’ own diaries and video recordings, Cullen pieces together how the tragedy unfolded and how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came to be cold-blooded killers.

10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s Columbine

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Correcting Mistakes

One of the biggest tragedies that occurred after the violence of Columbine ended was the neverending misinformation that spread like wildfire through the media. Sadly, many people do not realize that what was publicized during the months after Columbine was far from the truth as the media does not wait for thorough investigations and research. Dave Cullen’s Columbine attempts to correct these mistakes and reveal the astonishing truth of what happened that day, events that led up to it and the aftermath.

2. Research

Dave Cullen is considered the nation’s foremost authority on the Columbine killers and it is because of the meticulous research he has done and it shows in Columbine. Not only has he studied the thousands of pages from police reports and files, he conducted interviews with other people in the community, including friends and family members of Eric and Dylan. Cullen includes an extensive “Bibliography” at the end of Columbine and has links to many of them on his website to further solidify his claims and verify the facts he presents in his book.

3. The Boys

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were portrayed in the media as outcasts who were part of the “Trench Coat Mafia” and were bullied since they didn’t fit in. The shooting on April 20th, 1999 was viewed as revenge for the boys and that they were specifically targeting jocks and popular kids. The boys actually had a sizable group of friends, were not being bullied but rather there is evidence that they may have been bullies themselves, and they always had multiple social engagements each week. Eric and Dylan were not part of the social group clique known as the Trench Coat Mafia, they simply wore trench coats on the day of the shooting to help conceal their firearms. And lastly, the boys were never targeting specific people, Columbine was not a mass shooting but a failed bombing. Their purpose was to take out as many people as they could before they died, the goal was not revenge but rather a “fuck you” to the world and the system. To put it in perspective, they were meant to carry out their bombing on April 19th, the anniversary of the Waco raid and the Oklahoma bombing. Thankfully, Eric was not competent at making bombs.

4. Psychology

Consulting and interviewing renowned psychologists who have also viewed and studied the boys’ diaries and video tapes, Cullen presents their consensus that Eric Harris was a psychopath. In Columbine, Cullen includes studies and facts about psychology and psychopaths and does an amazing job of showing evidence that Eric Harris fits the profile of a psychopath.

5. Respect

Throughout Columbine, Dave Cullen shows the utmost respect to everyone he mentions. Whether parents’ of the killers or the victims, Cullen is respectful, never placing blame or that their reactions are unwarranted or over the top. Cullen also omitted names when necessary either by his own discretion or being asked to do so by the person. Cullen also reminds readers that only top officials were involved and complacent in the police cover-up surrounding Columbine, maintaining the integrity of the force as a whole.

6. Facts Only

Insinuations and unsupported theories are not seen in Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Even surrounding the interviews done under oath with the Harrises, which will not be made public until 2027, Cullen does not hint at anything he thinks may be revealed. He gives facts and keeps his own biases and judgments out of the book.

7. Healing

Probably one of the most powerful elements that Dave Cullen shares in Columbine is the many ways that the community came together to heal from the tragedy of Columbine. Cullen shares a look of the multiple public dedications and memorials that happened in response but also includes the small things that individual victims were doing for themselves to heal.

8. Afterwards

As healing can take time, Cullen also shares how the victims and/or their families are doing ten years later. It is amazing that the principal that was there during Columbine, stayed in his job and actually reaches out to other principals who have a shooting at their school. Or that some of the victims and their families were able to forgive Eric and Dylan and their families as well, regardless of the pain and suffering they caused. It is really a testament to how strong the human spirit can be, no matter what we go through.

9. Policies

The tragedy of Columbine did cause some changes to policies and laws, although this reader will say that gun laws are still ridiculously lax no matter how many mass shootings our country experiences. Regardless, Cullen brings up some of the changes Columbine caused such as the Zero Tolerance many schools now follow, which seem to not be helpful as it usually involves kids just blowing off steam, which led both the FBI and the Secret Service to publish reports to help faculty identify serious threats. In 2003, “The Active Shooter Protocol” that was released in response to Columbine that now mandates the objective is to take out the shooters at any cost instead of creating a perimeter and waiting for SWAT.

10. Blame

Columbine was written very well especially in regards to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. While he mentions other killers who were inspired by Harris and Klebold, Dave Cullen did not write the book in a way that glorified the killers. But just as important, Cullen does not crucify Eric and Dylan. He presents facts and shows ways that systems failed to prevent the tragedy, such as the police not investigating complaints and concerns about Eric Harris making pipe bombs and how easy it was for the boys to attain guns, but Cullen doesn’t put the blame on all one person or system. Cullen does a great job of humanizing both Eric and Dylan, reminding readers that while they made their decisions and are therefore responsible for their actions, there are elements that society is responsible for to help prevent these tragedies. 


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

by Nancy Verrier

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: A book meant for anyone involved in adoption, “The Primal Wound” explores the trauma that all adoptees experience through the process of adoption. With emphasize on the adoptee’s experience, Verrier provides information on how best adoptive parents, biological parents, and the adult adoptee can help themselves and heal from this trauma.


10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Adoption

Even though 6 out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption (themselves or close family/friend has adopted a child or put up a child for adoption), adoption is not an openly discussed topic. Verrier shares new insight and knowledge on this stigmatized subject.

2. Nancy Verrier

The author of “The Primal Wound”, Nancy Verrier is an adoptive mother and it was her personal experience with her adopted daughter that brought her to doing research on adoption and the trauma that occurs. Personal experience brings so much more substance and Verrier is able to provide a wealth of knowledge because of this.

3. Adoption Triad

“The Primal Wound” addresses the whole adoption triad: the adopted child, the biological mother, and the adoptive mother. It is written in a way that any individual in the role of the adoption triad should be able to understand and empathize with another role in the triad.

4. No Blame

Verrier makes a point to stress multiple times in “The Primal Wound” that the biological mother is not to blame for the trauma experienced by adoptees. Instead, she points to society as a whole for lacking resources that could have been available so that she could have kept her child. Improper treatment of drug addiction and/or mental health, poverty, unaffordable childcare, lack of sexual education, etc. are issues that many women face that may contribute to placing their child up for adoption.

5. References

Verrier meticulously cites multiple references and sources throughout “The Primal Wound” providing credence to her work and theories.

6. Validating

As an adoptee, “The Primal Wound” was so validating. A must-read for any adoptee, adoptive parent, or biological parent of an adopted child!

7. Suggested Reading

A super helpful list of other books is listed at the end of “The Primal Wound” to help readers further explore their interest in adoption and/or issues that may arise from being part of the adoption triad.

8. Issues

“The Primal Wound” does an amazing job of presenting all the issues and challenges people can experience if they are part of an adoption triad, especially for the adoptee. Self-esteem, attachment styles, intimacy problems, guilt, mourning, etc are all addressed.

9. Solutions

Not only does Verrier present the multiple issues that may arise from the experience of adoption, she also makes suggestions on how to solve some of these issues, especially by going to therapy.

10. The Writing

While “The Primal Wound” is a wealth of information, it never seems overwhelming or confusing. Verrier presents her supported theories clearly and includes her own personal experiences or those of people she interviewed to provide examples.

What are your favorite things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.