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

This book connects with so many others. It has the potential to change the world, to change the way we discriminate, incarcerate, discipline, and love. It has the potential to change our justice systems, medical systems, foster care systems, education systems, and families. If society can ask “What happened to you?” instead of reacting, we can actually start to rehabilitate, heal, and connect. Oh, what a world Oprah could create.

In this book, Oprah shares parts of her story of trauma and experiences with others and Perry shares personal stories of his patients and the science he has discovered about the brain and trauma. These experiences and what these two authors have learned from their experiences collide with the realization that humans need care and connection. Instead of punishing, we need to listen.

Honestly, I’m overwhelmed. What can I say when children are being abused and developing neuro-pathways amidst abuse, creating a worldview that is reaffirmed again and again that adults can’t be trusted, that people are cruel? I’m reading The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk and again learning about the effects of trauma on the mind and body. This is new research. How do we catch up when humans have been traumatized for centuries passing their trauma on to their children and the people around them? Oprah adamantly suggests that we patiently ask, “what happened to you?”

Thank you, Oprah and Bruce, for changing the world. For all of your work in listening to traumatized humans and gently following your kindness. Thank you for noticing where society is failing desperately and for having the intelligence and courage to find a way to change, a way to heal. Thank you, thank you, thank you.