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Dangerous Instincts: Use an FBI Profiler's Tactics to Avoid Unsafe Situations Paperback – September 25, 2012

103 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mary Ellen O’Toole is my hero! In Dangerous Instincts she offers sound advice and fascinating examples gleaned from her long career in the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. This book will save many lives—including, quite possibly, your own. Whether the knowledge you find herein saves you from a con man, a rapist, a thief, a killer, or just a miserable marriage, this is a classic, valuable book. I recommend it highly to all my family, friends, and readers.” Ann Rule, author of THE STRANGER BESIDE ME

“A masterful and compelling primer on survival in a world in which people are not always what we think them to be. Dr. O’Toole’s deep understanding of the nature and implications of psychopathy. . . is particularly impressive, and shared by only a few other criminal investigators. This is an important and well-written book on topics of concern to everyone. A great read, highly recommended.”

Robert Hare, Ph.D., author of WITHOUT CONSCIENCE

“In this absorbing read, [O’Toole] discusses why people trusted Bernie Madoff and Ted Bundy and dissects online dating responses and typical blind spots. The author helps readers analyze their decision-making patterns and provides a guide for helping them to assess and mitigate risk. O’Toole’s book will provide insight to everyone, but it’s particularly helpful for women living alone, parents concerned about their children’s safety, or employers worried about perplexing employee behavior.”

Library Journal

About the Author

Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, retired from the FBI in 2009. She lectures at the Smithsonian, and frequently speaks all over the world.
Alisa Bowman is the coauthor of six New York Times best- sellers.
Visit dangerousinstincts.com. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452298520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452298521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Mike on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is really eye-opening. It's only a 1 in 8 million chance that a serial killer will come to your door, but clearly the chance you will meet, date, or work with a criminal or dangerous person is much higher than that. I don't really worry about being hacked into pieces or locked in a basement dungeon, but I think we all know someone who has been attacked, swindled, physically or emotionally abused, etc. because they or someone else didn't see the warning signs.

I've certainly let strangers in my house on the basis of a uniform or a friendly voice, and I usually put a lot of trust in my first impression when meeting someone. But this book shows you a lot of simple things you can do that will give you insight into what's really going on. I'm pretty easy-going and certainly won't use all the advice the authors give, but there's a lot of useful stuff in there. And just in case Ted Bundy shows up at my door, I'm a little more prepared!
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Brette Sember on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is eye-opening. Many of things that we rely on to make decisions about other people are completely flawed. In short, our instincts are often wrong. It's frightening once you realize how "off" they really are. O'Toole offers a complete guide to changing how you think, evaluate others, and make everyday decisions which could have potentially devastating consequences. She provides excellent tips for how to evaluate people, interview people (such as for a job as a nanny or babysitter, or even as a painter), and how to read them. The 'rules' we have been taught to follow are often wrong and can often lead us into danger, and O'Toole points out all of the ways we open ourselves to danger.

I really appreciate the advice in this book, which helps you get inside your own decision-making process and retool it so that it will protect you and your family. This is also just a great read if you ever wondered about serial killers and psycopaths. O'Toole is an expert and offers fascinating vignettes about the criminals she personally worked with, as well as cases she worked on involving missing children. Be sure to read the section that compares how TV profilers do things versus how REAL profilers do things. It's revealing!

Some reviews have focused on the serial killer aspect. O'Toole is not telling us how to avoid serial killers (which are rare), but instead how to spot anyone who poses potential danger - especially things like theft, assault, breaking and entering, and other common crimes. In short, this is a primer for learning to be a better evaluator of others.

This is an important book for everyone to read, but I also think it ought to be required reading for young people heading off to college or to their own apartments. I will make sure my own daughter reads this book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra Grabbe on November 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you are curious about whether crime shows on television are accurate in their portrayal of FBI profilers and why you should not rely on gut feelings, get yourself a copy of Dangerous Instincts. The author, a retired profiler, shares tips on how to stay safe and mitigate risk. I run an inn on Cape Cod. I picked up Dangerous Instincts thinking the book might provide insight on ways to scope out strangers, in this case, our guests. We receive people we don't know all the time. They knock at the door. I open it and welcome them inside. What we have in common is a prior engagement, an appointment, a set meeting. But I have already decided from earlier contact, often an exchange of several emails, whether a person is someone I want in my house or not. Yes, I choose them based on gut feelings. There is no other way to do it. While psychopaths could visit the inn, usually there are people here, like my husband, which does not present the ideal scenario for any serious wrongdoing. Still, as I was reading, it occurred to me that my younger self could have really used this book. I have not met any psychopaths, but at least one pathological liar did cross my path and influence my life. My elder daughter would have been made better choices of men to date if she had read Dangerous Instincts. I'm going to get a copy for my daughter-in-law, who is always worrying about sex offenders in her neighborhood. She will love the Resource List. I found the chapter about interviews particularly worthwhile and came away knowing to pay attention to what is not said. This book provides no-nonsense advice on how to stay safe in life. I came away with a better understanding of the behavior of both strangers and intimates.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By SweetMarie123 on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a retired police officer, I found this book to contain alot of excellent advice for the average person, who in my experience, is usually far too trusting and naiive. Not that I am perfect myself. In spite of my knowledge and experience, I have let my guard down and put myself in potentially dangerous situations. This book is a great reminder of how vulnerable we all can be, and of what horrors really do go on in the world.
The opening chapter grips you with an account of a sexual sadist who was featured on an epsiode of Law and Order. I remember the episode well. It was one of the most disturbing ones I ever watched. Knowing it really happened, and how the monster appeared so "normal" on the surface, is terrifying.
I am a firm believer that none of us really every "know" anyone, in the purest form of the word, other than ourselves. The book emphasizes how the most dangerous people are usually the most normal, friendly and harmless.
The downside is that I think most people will continue to think "It will never happen to me". I found as an officer, and as a mother, that people just don't want to be told anything. They know better, especially today with the younger set. So how many people will do more to protect themselves after reading this book is anyone's guess.
I noticed that one reviewer commented on the author's tooting her own horn about her work and ability. I saw a bit of this but can easily forgive it. Thank God there are people who can do her work and sit down face to face with the Devil. I couldnt which is one of the reasons I retired early.
I commend her for her work, and for writing this book. I am sending it to my daughter next. Maybe she will listen to Mary Ellen since she wouldn't listen to her cop mom all that much...lol
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