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Summary

Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain development and trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry discuss the impact of trauma and adverse experiences and how healing must begin with a shift to asking, 'What happened to you?' rather than 'What’s wrong with you?'

Through wide-ranging and often deeply personal conversation, Oprah Winfrey and Dr Perry explore how what happens to us in early childhood - both good and bad - influences the people we become. They challenge us to shift from focusing on 'What’s wrong with you?' or 'Why are you behaving that way?' to asking, 'What happened to you?' This simple change in perspective can open up a new and hopeful understanding for millions about why we do the things we do and why we are the way we are, providing a road map for repairing relationships, overcoming what seems insurmountable and ultimately living better and more fulfilling lives.

Many of us experience adversity and trauma during childhood that have lasting impact on our physical and emotional health. And as we’re beginning to understand, we are more sensitive to developmental trauma as children than we are as adults. What happened to us in childhood is a powerful predictor of our risk for physical and mental health problems down the road and offers scientific insights in to the patterns of behaviours so many struggle to understand.

A survivor of multiple childhood challenges herself, Oprah Winfrey shares portions of her own harrowing experiences because she understands the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma at a young age. Throughout her career, Oprah has teamed up with Dr Bruce Perry, one of the world’s leading experts on childhood trauma. He has treated thousands of children, youth and adults and has been called on for decades to support individuals and communities following high-profile traumatic events. Now, Oprah joins forces with Dr Perry to marry the power of storytelling with the science and clinical experience to better understand and overcome the effects of trauma.

In conversation throughout the book, the two focus on understanding people, behaviour and ourselves in the context of personal experiences. They remove blame and self-shaming and open up a space for healing and understanding. 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.

Grounded in the latest brain science and brought to life through compelling narratives, this book shines a light on a much-needed path to recovery - showing us our incredible capacity to transform after adversity.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Oprah Winfrey and Dr Bruce Perry (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about What Happened to You?

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Loved it until the epilogue shocked me + Dr Perry controversial comments

What happened to you is a great reframing but I think the whole book turned into a « fantasy » with the last part. Oprah talking about forgiving them and the trauma being your power. It felt so odd because not everyone get to become Oprah because of it and not everyone has « just » parent who struggled, sometimes the pain inflicted is intentional and also most would trade that « power » for a non traumatic, « boring » life. We need to stop romanticizing abuse like that. It Does not help. It just creates more guilt and shame. And to Dr Perry, Africa is not a country and to speak about uniqueness while using stereotypes « rural area in Africa » like they all look the same and are the same was quite ironic. A lot of the description claimed to be universal but were Western centric and then I had to listen 3 times but to talk about the Rwandese civil war instead of genocide is extremely offensive to some people and I was really shocked by it.

48 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

I’m a therapist and have read and taken multiple courses on trauma - this book and audible version are outstanding.
There is also a free downloadable related workbook on Dr Perry’s website if you are interested.

11 people found this helpful

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Great book

This book is so relevant and on point! It really touched me and gave me clarity. I was hooked instantly! Thank you Oprah Winfrey and Dr Perry. Now I can make peace with my past!

10 people found this helpful

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Literally the best book I had ever read/ Listened to!

This is one of those life changing books, that I recommend everyone should read! I will definitely be listening to this book again soon. There are just too many life changing principles to fully consume full understanding of this book after one listen. The stories were so real, relatable and open. I want to thank both Oprah and Dr Perry for this collaboration, the stories mixed with science give an untapped depth to the understanding of trauma and how it effects our lives. How what happened to your efforts who you are and how you behave! This book also gives advice about healing methods, honestly this book has it all! Everyone can benefit from read/ listening to this book. The audio book is animated with actual inserts of Oprah’s interviews, which only adds to the effect of bringing the stories to life!

7 people found this helpful

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Fantastic!

A book for all humans. Should also be read by teachers, nurses, carers, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, counsellors, old and young. Expect to cry! I cried a lot! I will read it again and have already gifted it.

6 people found this helpful

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Answers i have been looking for

Gave me answers i was searching for; i am the full definition of this book - walking talking traumatic wounded. After 50 years on this earth most of it spent in church to no good effect church , i finally believe i have found healing and will heal ! Wow

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A whole new level of self-awareness

Listening to this remarkable book has brought a whole new level of self-awareness. It is so relatable to what happened to me in childhood and how it has shaped who I am now.

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Excellent

From start to finish I was hooked. It was so interesting to learn about how we carry trauma into our adult lives and no one thinks to ask what happened to you to try and help work this out in order to heal past wounds. 100%recommended. I will definitely listen to this again.

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Very insightful

Loved this book. Be nice to have a follow up book/work book to accompany the findings..

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Enlightening

I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book and it connected some dots and gave me plenty of food for thought. However, I think it is all well and good educating people on ways forward and how to interact with traumatised people and types and ways therapy can be used, but for the masses, possibly 99% of people do not have access to this type of knowledge let alone treatment, so as much as I enjoyed this book I think the education is futile. Again, it is an excellent read, I just wish it could reach the other 99%.

3 people found this helpful

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  • VeeBee47
  • 28-11-21

Not What I Expected

It started ok with Oprah talking about disturbing aspects of her early life and from there I began to realise that this book wasn't what I wanted. The indepth conversations about therapy with children deeply disturbed by murder, kidnap. Cases of trauma and other suffering began to make me feel queasy and uncomfortable. Scared and unsafe to the point where I decided to end my reading of this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-05-21

A must read for every human

This book made me cry so many times, and answerd so many questions for me!


2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-11-21

What happened to you?

I can summarize the entire book in the following paragraph:

"To heal from childhood traumas(or adverse childhood experiences), all you have to do is to Accept your past the way it is(No one can change their past, right?), Become Self Aware and find at least one person to have a Strong Connection with"

If you need detail, then go ahead and read/listen to the book.


1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-06-21

Thank you 🙏🏽

Wow! What an incredible guide and tool for what healing can do for you! Thank you Oprah and Dr Perry for your vulnerability and authenticity! The world needs more of you 🙏🏽

1 person found this helpful

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  • P.T
  • 22-06-21

This should be a set work for every human!

This is both a mirror and a map to healing our hearts! Read it again and again!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-06-21

Audiobook a better option than the actual book.

I expierenced a lot of light bulb moments listening to Oprah and Dr Perry.
Chapter 7 in particular.
I am going to listen to this audiobook often when I am feeling overwhelmed with my trauma recovery

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-06-21

Fav new book!!

I'm definitely going to read this over and over again. Such a beautiful way to convey such important messages, through story and understanding.
I have begun applying some techniques to my horse training to build trust and get to the cortex. Thank you!

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  • Diane Simpson Page
  • 20-05-21

Life changing

This in one of those books that should be standard reading for all humans. I have read many books on psychology and many on the brain, this brings the 2 together and brings so much clarity to how what happens to us, affects our behaviour. It is read so beautifully and the real life stories are incredibly moving and cement each idea so magically.

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  • Nicci
  • 17-05-21

Life changing book!

This book is read by the authors, Oprah Winfrey and Dr Bruce Perry and it feels like a conversation. Although they touch on some fascinating neuroscience, the content is very accessible and engaging. Little anecdotes bring the underlying theory to life and it was difficult to put down. So many "aha" moments. I will definitely be reading this again. I am just sad I didn't have this as a new parent and teacher. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-05-21

Brilliant.

Moving, riveting, filled with startling insights. Buy it. Listen to it. This audio book will save many damaged lives. Wish I could give 20 stars.

1 person found this helpful