For your bookshelf.

Lazy post today. Half of you are not going to be in a fit state to read, anyway.

One of the consequences of being a person who writes stuff is that other people who write stuff send you their stuff. A lot of the times, I find it more cringeworthy than useful, possibly because I have the social graces of a bear with a toothache and a reading backlog I shall never work through. So, a couple of weeks ago, when I got an email from some rando whom I only vaguely remembered from a couple of threads on social media telling me that he’d written a book on emotional abuse and did I want to check it out, I was less than enthusiastic.

The book in question is:

Emotional Abuse: A manual for self-defense by Zak Mucha, LCSW. It’s available on the Kindle and as a paperback.

I opened the thing yesterday, intending to give it a cursory look because I said I would.

I put it down around 120 pages later.

The content is great, and it’s important. It’s only going to become more important as time goes on. One of the things that drive me to despair about the self-defence community is the widespread disregard for the impact of emotional abuse. Aside from the fact that it seems to defy evidence (people kill themselves over bullying; maybe, just maybe, we ought to give a damn), it ignores the way in which societal pressures are affecting the tactics abusers use. Making physical abuse socially unacceptable and punishable by law doesn’t make abusers go away; it just forces them to change their tactics. Emotional abuse is a good way for people who get a kick out of hurting people to get their bennies without risking jail time. Abusive parents and partners and schoolchildren and bosses and coworkers know that there’s a high risk in laying hands on somebody; eviscerating them with words, on the other hand, is still widely regarded as a-ok. I don’t understand this point of view. Anyone who thinks that non-physical abuse can’t mess someone up really hasn’t spent enough time listening to people. Oh, and emotional abuse can make people more likely candidates for physical abuse, too. Seems to me it’s about time we stopped ignoring it.

The way in which the content is presented is even better. The book is entirely guff- and agenda-free. It’s solid with aphorisms; every other paragraph has a quotable sentence in it. I absolutely hate real-life stories in most SD books because all too often they smack of exploitation or emotional vampirism. That’s not the case here. When real-life stories are used, it’s done to convey useful information. If you like flowery prose, this isn’t going to be your thing. If you want a user manual for your own brain, conveying the maximum amount of clear information in the minimum amount of time, you’re gonna love this.

If you have had any experience of emotional abuse, buy the damn thing. If you don’t have any experience of emotional abuse but you know anyone who has (and if you knock about in the self-defence community, I promise you that you do), buy the damn thing. If you’re a self-defence instructor, you owe it to your students to buy the damn thing. If you don’t think you have time for a cover-to-cover read, buy the paperback version, stick it in your toilet, and read it in bits while you’re taking care of business. You’ll still get a benefit.


And now for something entirely different.

I’ve spent the last few months playing with a dancing bear project: “The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all.”

This is what came out:


It’s sci-fi so soft as to be practically liquid. I’m not recommending it; there’s no earthly reason why liking (or tolerating) my non-fiction should mean that you will like my fiction too. I’m just saying I wrote it. I’m happy about that.

It’s available on the Kindle. A paperback version is in progress.

WARNING: Violence, Strong Language, Sexual Content. And pig rustling.


3 thoughts on “For your bookshelf.

  1. Hey!
    Changed the tagline?

    Your book is awesome: I finished it and it’s true that it’s completely about people and processing instead of sci-fi facts – but it does have a glossary of terms and a living, breathing sci-fi universe that is key to the characters and their development.

    Secondly, I’m a teacher at a teacher’s college and I’ve been considering the idea of consistently equating bullying with being “abusive.” The term is even stronger is Dutch (“misbruik”).
    In the Netherlands, at least, if you tell kids they are being abusive, or emotionally and often physically abusing someone, that has impact. It’s an adult word, while “bullying” can sound like something kids do that’s kind of part of it. It sometimes happens, you know, at that age?
    Well, physical abuse happens. Emotional abuse happens. Does that make it okay?


      • I think the watering down has already happened, at least in some places; the term has been stretched to the point of having lost all credibility and weight. I think that’s pretty much inevitable when any issue gets popularised. The same happened with physical abuse; in some quarters, tickling your child is classed as abusive.

        If you’re looking at the issue as a society-wide or group-wide thing, that’s probably a big problem. I don’t know whether it’s as much of an issue when you’re dealing with individuals and individual solutions. If what you’re concentrating on is enabling individuals to change their point of view on certain behaviours and to treat themselves differently, then it might not be as big a deal. Though you’re guaranteed to get people who will weaponise it – “you said no to me, and that’s emotional abuse.”

        From a SD perspective, what I’d like to see is people getting taught the tools for dealing with the issue, instead of being told that it’s a non-issue. Once you have those tools, it does tend to become a non-issue, but condemning someone because they don’t know how to defend themselves seems anti-useful. It’s a bit like someone with a floating device lecturing someone who doesn’t have one, and is drowning.

        Liked by 1 person

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