“We often use our belief in another person’s ‘resilience’ as an emotional shield. We protect ourselves from the discomfort, confusion, and helplessness we feel in the face of their trauma. It’s a kind of looking away; it lets our worldview go unchallenged and lets our life continue with minimal disruption,” (Perry 187).
What Happened To You? is an incredibly detailed book so I don’t know exactly where to go with reviewing this. The main focus of Dr. Perry and Oprah’s book is to look at what happened to a person to cause certain behaviours, reactions, and lifestyles instead of assuming something is wrong with a person based on how they act. It’s a very detailed book (though Dr. Perry’s charts did confuse me at times) I enjoyed the many examples of different cases, especially with children and how certain unseen triggers could dramatically alter how they reacted in different settings.
My favourite thing about the book was how conversational it was. It’s almost like an interview, or two friends talking. Dr. Perry or Oprah will start a chapter and then the rest of the chapter will continue in a conversation between the two as they examine the ten different chapters in the book, all boiling down to “What Happened To You?” I thought it was a very accessible way of writing a book on trauma, Dr. Perry doesn’t dwell on medical jargon to confuse readers but insteads explains his findings in an easy to understand way.
That being said there is a lot to understand in this book. What Happened To You? is probably best read if you have a lot of time because the book really requires you to sit, think, and ponder over what you’ve read. Since I have the library’s copy I wasn’t able to hold onto it as much as I’d like and had to read it fairly quickly, but I’d love to have a chance to sit and think over this book. It’s a fantastic way of understanding trauma and behaviours in ourselves and those around us.
Publication: April 27 2021
Publisher: Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book
Pages: 262 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Nonfiction, Mental Health, Trauma, Self-help
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
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. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future—opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.