WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: What Happened To You? by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

This book is a conversation between Bruce Perry (child psychiatrist and neuroscientist, child trauma specialist, and author of another excellent but emotionally difficult to read book The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog) and Oprah Winfrey, media leader and philanthropist, who has a special interest in child trauma.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book, and was a little concerned that it would be a bit too “reality tv” like in its presentation of such a nuanced topic. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. The book is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to better understand trauma.

The book provides an accessible overview of trauma, how it occurs, the impact it has on our brains and bodies, and what is required to heal. There are some nice simple diagrams to depict important concepts (none of those very complicated neural pathways in the brain type ones that make my head spin!) There are also numerous case studies, many of which involve heart breaking stories of child abuse, but also many that provide hope for healing and opportunities for resilience.

The title of the book reinforces the need to avoid asking “What’s wrong with you?” and to rather ask “What happened to you?” as this is where understanding and healing can begin.

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