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What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  3,211 ratings  ·  451 reviews
"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 Winfrey

This 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?
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 27th 2021 by Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book
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Elyse  Walters
read by Bruce D. Perry and
Oprah Winfrey
…..8 hours and 27 minutes

“Biologically speaking….
continuous trauma can weaken remaining neutral pathways to the thinking part of the brain and strengthen neutral pathways to the survival part, thus bypassing the thinking part, which makes some children less capable of coping with adversity as they grow up”.

The terrific duo conversational styling, was enhanced in the audiobook format.

“What Happened To You?”
rather than “what’s wrong with you?”
Schizanthus Nerd
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
Traci S
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Add this to the list of books that should be required reading. I saved all of the resources they provided and am looking forward to visiting the book's website. To be fair, however, I'm over Oprah and her "my school in South Africa" - seriously it could've been a drinking game. ...more
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a very meaningful and thought-provoking book. I listened to this on audio, which was an enjoyable conversation between the great Oprah Winfrey and her longtime collaborator Dr. Perry, a neuroscientist and child psychologist who specializes in trauma and how it affects the brain.

The discussions of the brain were well-done and made it easier for a layperson like me to understand. And I appreciated the wide variety of stories Oprah and Perry shared that illustrated the impact trauma can h
Sonal Apte
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This should absolutely be required reading for everyone. Why? Because it explains how we don't really know anyone until we know what happened to them. And from that perspective, it gives educators, parents, and really everybody who interacts with humans a new perspective on why we as humans act the way we do.

It's easily the best non-clinical book on trauma I've ever read. Definite must read.
May 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
Not all that impressed with this one, Oprah. Unless you are very interested in child development/psychology, not sure this is worth the time. Additionally, I don't agree that trauma can only encompass severe situations (e.g., sexual abuse, child abuse). I personally have a broader definition, and this book didn't include relevant information from that perspective. There also wasn't much about how to heal the trauma, especially as an adult. I do, however, like the idea of reframing the question t ...more
May 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Man, I really loved this book. It was an incredibly fascinating tour through the way the MIND processes trauma. There was a quote, "we prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty", that stuck with me when he said it. He also points out that in trauma, we are not "resilient". We don't bounce back unchanged. We are forever changed. And we have to work hard to readjust and change the lens which has been altered during the traumatic event. We're malleable. Not resilient. I appreciate ...more
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting, self-help, 2021
What if we asked “what happened to you?” Instead of “what’s wrong with you?”? What if we heal the generational trauma instead of passing it on to the next generation?

This book fabulous! It gave me lots to think about and reminded me to have more grace for myself and others, we are all fighting deep wounds.
I wanted to like this book a lot, but it just didn’t hit for me. The idea is important - ask about what happened to you rather than what is “wrong” with you. However, the vast majority of the book focuses on infant and early childhood experiences and barely touches on trauma that happens in young adult or adulthood. I came away feeling like this book was more about parenting than about healing from trauma. The best parts were about Oprah’s own life and childhood; those sections were emotionally ...more
Anna Rosa
May 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Anderson
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This should be a required book for everyone.
Whitney Campbell
This is the kind of stuff I read on my day off from doing trauma work. I thought this was an excellent book on trauma and trauma informed care that is accessible to anyone wanting to learn more about trauma work. This was also great to read as someone feeling some intense compassion fatigue these days. It is always a great to have a refresher to help me reframe and refocus my work so that compassion fatigue doesn’t just completely wipe me out. I would recommend this to lay people and even other ...more
silindile zibane
A healing journey like no other...

For some strange reason I felt peace while going through the pages of this book. As though I was revisiting past traumatic experiences not as a victim but as a student. I felt like I was standing outside myself and studying how past traumas have shaped my thinking and behavior. Understanding that the brain makes memories and associations based on past experiences is so enlightening and liberating at the same time. Even more liberating is the understanding that w
Apr 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I wrote my review in Dutch ;-) on April 25th (can be viewed on my linkedin; this is a shortened, slightly altered English version)

What happened to you? What happened to you that made you feel this way right here, right now .. What happened to you that made you react this way .. What happened to you? Perhaps the most important question you can ask as a therapist, as a person. It is the title of Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey's book. A book that I could not put down, a book that belongs (at the
Michelle Jarc
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read about trauma. Just exceptional. I replayed so many parts of this audiobook to listen to again, to reflect, and to take notes. I ordered the book so that I can have my own copy. Teachers, parents, anyone who works with children - this is a must read. Here are just a few quotes that made the most impact on me....
1) "The past is not an excuse but an explanation.....this is where healing begins".
2) "It takes a long time to change people and an even longer time to c
Alexa Fortuna
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I think everyone who works in a setting with children needs to read this. It really paints the picture of how trauma shapes our actions. It was a little dry in some parts but the message was powerful.
This was one of the best non-clinical books about trauma that I have ever experienced. I listened to the audio and would strongly recommend this format.
May 07, 2021 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book and I did like the theme that pulsed throughout. However, I had some issues with the mixed messages such as "if you didn't know love as a child, you can never love", then later on saying everyone can heal. Also, many times throughout the book there was some negative generalizations and pre-judging of single parents, which I found highly inappropriate. (There are some single parents who are rocking it and some two-parent homes that are not.). Finally, confirmation bias ...more
April Capil
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was a heart-opening read, and put so many memories and relationships in perspective for me. It ties in with everything I've learned from Alfred Adler's work, from books like "The Body Keeps The Score," and it just made me want to hug every child close and tell them they are loved, and they matter, and they don't have to be defined by the shame or pain from past traumas. I hope that Bruce Perry's work and his approach to therapeutic counseling can be implemented by schools, hospitals, a ...more
Erik Rocha
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'd like to start by saying that my introduction to Oprah was from Josh's obsession in Drake and Josh. I knew that everyone loved her but never really knew much about her. Over the summer, I listened to her Master Class podcast episodes about herself from 2019. The trauma she experienced in her childhood shook me and immediately made me see her as an inspiration -- pretty much how everyone else already saw her. When I saw she had a book about trauma coming out, I new I had to read it.

I kind of r
May 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
Required reading, required reading, required reading! WOW. I listened to this (Oprah and Dr. Perry narrate it) and I learned so much. I could read/listen to again and again and pick up new things each time. This will likely become a yearly read for me.

A few take aways: community is so important, the first few years of life are critical, everyone is carrying around trauma but it doesn’t have to be crippling, different coping mechanisms are fascinating and they are manifested uniquely in each per
May 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in psychology and trauma. Would particularly recommend for anyone who works or interacts with children in any capacity. Loved how the authors advocate to reframe the question “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” — making the case that you can’t truly know or help someone without understanding what has happened to them, and the impact of those events on their development and ability to self regulate.

The book is written in conversation format which
Alivia Norwood
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This should be required reading for all, but especially parents to be.
Billie Byron
Apr 29, 2021 rated it liked it
I will read more. But getting toxic and possibly gaslighting language that it’s going to be from a “privilege” bubble. Oprah was lucky to survive, privileged that she has “language intelligence”, good support from Maya and Gayle. If you work in drug rehabilitation or other abused children areas you know these things are a huge fortunate advantage for a child. Language intelligence is a huge advantage for Oprah.. I work with some disabilities today. So it’s like a transectional train wreck, enoug ...more
Mary Sullivan
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We all need to have more empathy for each other. That was my biggest takeaway from this book. The book explains that by asking the question, “what happened to you?”, we can be kinder and more understanding of each other. Wish I could give everyone a copy to read.

Be warned - this is not a light read (the authors say that too at the beginning). I worked my way through this by listening to a chapter every day or so.

Btw - Oprah reads the audio book along with Dr. Perry. If you love Oprah (as I do)
Joanne Kelleher
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was familiar with Dr. Perry through his work with the Collaborative for Academic, Social,
and Emotional Learning (CASEL). For me, the book was like an extended, more detailed version of his webinar "Return to School During COVID 19: Helping Children and Families Manage Stress and Build Resilience" on the CASEL website. In the book, Dr. Perry shares stories of his patients: the trauma they experienced and how his methods helped them. This book would be helpful for adults working with children (a
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
INCREDIBLE. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. I’m obsessed. The stories, message, and science are clear and powerful. It’s important to learn about how we became who we are in order to become the best versions of ourselves. This book shares wisdom into why and how, in a grounded, well-informed manner. Another reason I love this book: the overlap between personal narratives and clinical psychology is beautifully done. Its message is crucial for both individuals and institutions.
Lindsay Nixon
May 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Yowza. This was just too boring and scattered

I’ve read several books on trauma, PTSD, how the body keeps score, and so very little was new to me and how it was presented was inferior to previous explanations.

I also found it lacking in enough varied examples or actionable suggestions. Switching between the doctor “explaining” and Oprah coming in (it came across as interruptive) with her experience made me think it would have been better to turn this into a memoir with professional analysis ...
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I liked the mind expanding idea that as educators (or in other roles) we sometimes ask the wrong questions related to behaviors. Although it’s daunting for us to consider how impactful the first months of life are for healthy development, ultimately we are lifted by the authors’ optimistic message that healing - both individually and collectively - is possible.
Megan Rose
Apr 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book by Oprah was absolutely mesmerizing. It is a thought provoking book about how our past defines who we are and why we are the way we are. I found so many aspects of this book essential to understanding ourselves as well as others. We truly don't know anyone until we can know what happened to them. I am so happy Oprah was in conversation with Bruce Perry and I cannot recommend this book more. ...more
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