Historically, psychologists have been awful at predicting violence.  Fortunately for us, de Becker is not a psychologist.  He’s a security expert whose job has been to assess the risk of threats to government officials.  Remember that old Saturday Night Live bit about “Who Killed Buckwheat?”  It was John David Stutts (watch it again on Hulu.com). Eddie Murphy played both parts. I remember the parody of the interview with Stutts’s pastor:

Pastor: He was a loner, and a quiet young man. He attended church, and Sunday School. I remember he was always very polite.

Joe Piscopo: Do you believe he killed Buckwheat?

Pastor: Oh, yes. Definitely. That’s all he talked about.” 

It was funny because we always thought these crimes came out of the blue and were impossible to predict.  They aren’t.  We simply overlook the warning signs. Fortunately, de Becker has not. He outlines those warning signs – both in the predator and in you.  Reading his book will probably scare you for weeks because he gets inside the head of serial killers like Ted Bundy – not a place you want to spend a lot of time. He’ll show you when to be concerned about a disgruntled employee (Chapter 9), an overly persistent love interest (Chapter 11), or John Hinckley (Chapter 13).  Bottom line:  He says to listen to what your instinctual fear is telling you.  Then decide, “What do I lose if I trust my gut?”  If it isn’t much, go with your gut.  It may be more right than you think.