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

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

Staff Review: "What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing " by Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey


This informative resource hooked me from the very beginning, as Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry started to speak on their own experiences with trauma, along with the effects traumatic experiences have on the human brain. I learned just how much trauma can affect the actual biology of the brain, and how vital loving caregivers are to the actual development of the brain. 

While factors like genetics and family history of trauma play a part in determining the effects of trauma, I learned that the younger the person is that experiences trauma, the deeper the impact it has on them. I was amazed to learn that just the timing of trauma has so much impact on the person, so much so that a child who experiences trauma in the first two months of its life (and only then) is actually impacted more than a child who experiences a wonderful first two months of life followed by traumatic experiences later in life.

So many facts like these left me surprised and fascinated, while growing my appreciation of trauma-informed services and schools especially. While art and music can be the first programs cut at a school, these are really important to those that have experienced trauma. They offer connections between students and opportunities for what Dr. Perry refers to as regulation; repetition and rhythmic activities like rocking and walking actually balance over-reactive networks in the brain. The importance of connection and opportunities for regulation, along with loving caregivers, were main concepts emphasized throughout the book.

Dr. Perry and Oprah also discussed stress and trauma and how the brain actually processes those. Post-Traumatic Stress was explained in a way I had never heard before, but which really made me understand it in a whole new light. Discussions on racism and implicit bias were other important topics discussed, along with so many others! 

I listened to the audio book version of this book, which included audio clips of interviews, and absolutely loved the narration. The book was so informative that I found myself taking it out of the car to listen to it when I wasn't driving so that I could take notes! I highly recommend this not only for those that have experienced trauma themselves, but for everyone, as it really demonstrates the importance of empathy and just how important it is for people to not ask what's wrong with someone, but to instead consider what happened to them and how that may have impacted them and their behavior.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

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