Oprah Winfrey's What Happened to You Book Review

March 29, 2024

As a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey has a rare ability to engage with people, even strangers, in tough, honest and empathetic conversations. This skill comes to the fore in this book, a collaboration between Oprah and Dr Bruce Perry – a brain development and trauma expert. The book is structured as a conversation between the two, with Perry explaining complex neurological concepts and Winfrey providing insight through her own experiences and anecdotes. This format makes the book accessible to the general reader whilst also allowing for the book to explore deeper issues such as the role that shame plays in our lives.

The book is full of fascinating insights into how the brain works and the impact that trauma can have, both on a child’s development and in adulthood. It reveals the ways in which childhood trauma can follow us through our lives and the impact that this has on our behaviour and relationships. It also discusses how a person can heal and what this process looks like.

The book isn’t about blaming anyone for your experience and it is not an excuse to act out but it does help you understand why you might be struggling and it can silence that voice in your head that says there is something wrong with you. It can help you realise that your reaction is reasonable given your history and that there is hope for healing.

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