Free book 2: Trauma

I’ve recently added a new page to my website for free books. These are collections of blog posts and other things I’ve written over the years on specific topics. I figured that a lot of readers would prefer everything collected together in one place rather than having to go searching through old blog posts and articles elsewhere online.

Free Books

The first three free books I’ve created are largely based on the writing I did last year as I navigated learning about trauma (personally, and in general), and considering how my relationship with my (plural) self, and other people, might work (consensually) under this new understanding – all during a global pandemic! So there are now three free books on these topics of trauma, plurality, and consent.

In future I hope to add free books of my best writing on gender, sexuality, love, and mental health, along with one about writing itself.

I thought I’d announce each free book over the coming weeks for people who follow my blog or twitter but don’t regularly check out the website.


The second free book is all about trauma. What do I mean by that? As I say at the start of the book:

In this collection the focus is on trauma as the impact of what happened to you. As Steve Haines points out in his great little overview Trauma is Really Strange, bodily trauma responses such as mobilising into fight or flight, or going immobile or dissociating, are the same whether we’re talking about developmental trauma from the past, a recent traumatic event, or the cumulative impact of stress.

When we consider what causes us to be traumatised, I like this definition used by Bonnie Badenoch in her book The Heart of Trauma:

‘Any experience of fear and/or pain that does not have the support it needs to be digested and integrated into the flow of our brains’

This helpfully highlights the point which many trauma experts agree on that there are two elements to traumatising circumstances:

  1. A key event, or accumulation of events, which is frightening, shameful or otherwise painful to us (whether or not it would be to other people in similar circumstances, it’s about the meaning for us)
  2. Not receiving the support we need in order to process the event or events (which usually means having somebody to hold us and hear us in our distress, reflecting it back to us in ways that reassure us that it is understandable and help us to tolerate it)

The book considers personal forms of trauma as well as cultural forms, and the interconnection between the two.

We hope you enjoy this first free book. More about the other ones to come…

Meg-John (MJ) Barker (they/them) is a writer, zine-maker, collaborator, contemplative practitioner, and friend. They are the author of a number of zines and popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including graphic guides to Queer, Gender, and Sexuality (with Jules Scheele), and How To Understand Your Gender, Sexuality and Relationships (with Alex Iantaffi).


  1. Margot

    21 August

    This is really generous and the anticipation feels quite exciting. Thanks MJ!