What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey

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What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROur earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road, and What Happened to You? provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand.“Through this lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”-Oprah WinfreyThis book is going to change the way you see your life.Have you ever wondered "Why did I do that?" or "Why can't I just control my behavior?" Others may judge our reactions and think, "What's wrong with that person?" When questioning our emotions, it's easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It's time we started asking a different question.Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What's wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves.

  • Author - Oprah Winfrey
  • Publisher - Flatiron Books
  • Publication date - 04-27-2021
  • Page count - 304
  • Hardcover
  • Adult
  • Personal Growth and Development
  • Product dimensions - 5.7 W x 7.6 H x 1.3 D
  • ISBN-13 - 9781250223180

Web ID: 12622671

Customer reviews

7 Reviews
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    Aug 22, 2023
    from Sacramento, CA
    Ask "What Happened" & Not "What's Wrong With You"

    The title is named as such because it is what one should ask about others (as well as themself) instead of asking “What is wrong with you?” This book is packed with a lot of information to all readers to understand what may be occurring whenever one appears to “be jumpy” or “just snap.” One great explanation is what Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D often uses a model of the brain visual demonstration whenever explaining the brain, stress, and trauma. According to Dr. Perry, the basic organization of the brain is like a four-layered cake: top is the cortex (the most human part of the brain), next is the limbic, second to the bottom is the diencephalon, and the bottom is the brainstem (also known as the reptile brain—controls body-temperature regulation, heart rate, breathing, etc.) (Perry & Winfrey, 2021). Input from the senses (touch, smell, hearing, and vision) goes directly through the lower parts of the brain instead of the cortex and since the “brainstem can’t tell time or know, how many years have passed, it activates the stress response” and then one has “a full-blown threat response (Perry & Winfrey, 2021). In other words, one feels as if they are placed back during the traumatic event (or series of events) and the brain starts to believe it is under attack. The last thing I wanted to share was the importance of a community. This is one way can to change what happened to someone. Dr. Perry explains what he observed with the Māori indigenous Polynesian people that live on the mainland of New Zealand as well as explaining what type of relationships that can change what one sees about themself and others.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Dec 21, 2021
    from West Warwick RI
    Indispensable knowledge

    I have always wanted to understand what causes people to react the way they do. This neuro science approach explains it clearly and compassionately. It should be required reading for all parents and first responders.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Sep 01, 2021
    from St Louis MO

    I'm still reading the novel something that I can relate to. Overall great book so far

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Aug 04, 2021
    from Colorado
    Great synopsis of trauma and development

    Let me preface this by saying I am skeptical of anything Oprah endorses, given her previous affiliations with Dr. Phil and Oz. Given that, I have read almost every book ever written on trauma, and work in a field where I interact with traumatized and developmentally delayed children on a daily basis. This book is a very informative and understandable presentation of the data. This book explains the situations I encounter on a daily basis. I am rarely impressed with new books on this subject, as they generally rehash the same points over and over, but the way this data is presented refreshes the subject and is much more easily digestible for those without a graduate degree in psychology. I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to understand the complexities of human behavior.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Jul 13, 2021
    A Profound Message

    This book is for everyone. I believe the message and information it contains is desperately needed as the soul of America grapples with itself. Authors Oprah and Dr. Perry expertly marry information about trauma and how trauma functions within the brain with narratives that crystallize the meaning of this information. The message is nothing short of profound.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Jun 01, 2021
    from New Orleans, LA
    I Needed This Book!

    I have only bought two books in the past month, this and an essential planner called What You Should Know Right Now from Author R.A. Clark. One this book, is helping me deal with the past and the other has helped me get a handle on my present and my future. Like Oprah, I too grew up with an overbearing grandmother after I lost my father to alcholism and my mother to her depression. I promised myself and God I would do better with my life and this one book is helping me finally make peace with it. It is a must have. The other book, it too is here on Barnes and Nobles, and it has become almost mental health insurance. I highly recommend it as well.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com
    Schizanthus Nerd
    Apr 28, 2021
    The Right Book at the Right Time

    “As you move through the experiences of your past, know that no matter what happened, your being here, vibrant and alive, makes you worthy. You alone are enough.” Sometimes a book will come into your life at exactly the right time. Traumas, both from childhood and more recent times, have been making themselves known to me with an urgency I haven’t experienced before, at a time that seems more inconvenient than pretty much any other time in my life. Although I’d love to push it all to the side, with a ‘Not now! Can’t you see I’m busy reading?’, there’s also a knowing that there’s never going to be a good time and that maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason it’s all coming up for me now. So, here I am, trying to figure out what healing will look like for me and having conversations with people who are seeing my resilience from the outside in vastly different ways than I’m perceiving it from the inside. Then this book, which covers the trifecta of what my brain has decided is my priority right now (trauma, resilience and healing), makes its way into my world. The shift from asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’ to ‘what happened to you?’ is something I’ve yearned to hear for most of my life. Western society is so fixed on labels, which I know have their place and can be useful, but all too often pasting a diagnosis (or multiple diagnoses) on someone marginalises them more than it helps them. If we don’t get to the core of why a person behaves the way they do then we’re really missing the point, and the opportunity to best support them. “All of us want to know that what we do, what we say and who we are, matters.” Dr. Perry’s work in understanding how the brain’s development is impacted by early trauma helps explain why we behave the way we do, for example, why some people lash out in anger and others withdraw into themselves. There’s science in this book but it was explained in a way that made sense to me, someone who hasn’t formally studied science since high school. Even if you don’t understand a concept the first time it’s mentioned it’s okay as it will be referred to in later conversations. If words like ‘brainstem’, ‘diencephalon’, ‘limbic’ and ‘cortex’ make you want to disengage, I’d encourage you to hold on because how the science relates to someone’s life will be explained. This, in turn, will make it easier to apply what’s being said to your own life. You’ll read about people Dr. Perry has worked with, people Oprah has interviewed and about Oprah’s own experiences. Knowledge truly is powerful and simply having an understanding of why a smell or sound (‘evocative cues’) can cause people with PTSD to have flashbacks, making them feel as though they’re right back in that moment, feels like half the battle. If you’re not caught up in judging yourself for your brain responding the way that it does, then it frees up so much energy that you can use to regulate yourself. I learned about how our view of the world becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, why self harm makes so much sense to the people who do it (even though it baffles the people who don’t), the importance of rhythm in regulation, how vital connections with other people are to healing and why I need to learn more about neuroplasticity. I gained a much better understanding of flock, freeze, flight and fight. Dissociation, which I thought I knew all about from personal experience, make much more sense to me now, as does why I find reading so helpful in my everyday life. I love facts and there were some that really put what I was reading into context for me. “During the first nine months, fetal brain development is explosive, at times reaching a rate of 20,000 new neurons ‘born’ per second. In comparison, an adult may, on a good day, create 700.” This book isn’t about blaming anyone for your trauma and it’s not giving you an excuse for bad behaviour. It does explain why you react the way you do and can help silence the voice inside you that tells you there’s something wrong with you because of it - your reaction is reasonable given your history but there is also hope; you can heal. I would recommend this book to so many people. Before I’d even begun reading I’d recommended it to my GP and would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone who works in a profession that brings them into contact with young children and their families or trauma survivors. “To this day, the role that trauma and developmental adversity play in mental and physical health remains under appreciated.” I would recommend it to trauma survivors, although with a few caveats: that they stay safe while reading (some of the content is bound to be triggering), read at their own pace and make good use of their support system as needed. Loved ones of trauma survivors will find explanations for why their friend or family member behaves the way that they do and ways they can help. I’m not someone who usually listens to audiobooks but if there’s a book that would be more suited for that format than this one, a series of conversations between Dr. Perry and Oprah, I can’t think of it. Of course, having grown up with Oprah, I heard everything she said in her voice as I read anyway but I’m definitely planning to reread via audiobook. “It takes courage to confront your actions, peel back the layers of trauma in our lives and expose the raw truth of what happened. But, this is where healing begins.” Content warnings are included on my blog. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Bluebird, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, for the opportunity to read this book.

    Customer review from barnesandnoble.com