What Happened to You

Discover profound insights into healing and resilience with "What Happened to You?". Oprah and Dr. Perry's book explores the impact of trauma, fostering empathy and understanding. Dive into this transformative conversation.
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Oprah Winfrey
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In the realm of self-help and personal growth literature, “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing” stands out as a remarkable and deeply empathetic exploration of the human experience. Co-authored by Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey, this book delves into the profound impact of trauma on individuals and society as a whole. Through a series of candid and insightful conversations, the authors shed light on how trauma shapes our lives and, most importantly, how we can heal and build resilience.


“What Happened to You?” is not just a book; it’s a conversation, a bridge between the world of science and the realm of human emotions. Dr. Bruce D. Perry, a renowned psychiatrist and neuroscientist, joins forces with Oprah Winfrey, the iconic media personality and philanthropist, to explore the profound question: What happened to you? Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with you?” this powerful book encourages us to delve into the stories behind our actions and reactions, to understand the impact of past experiences on our present selves.

The book is structured around a series of dialogues between Dr. Perry and Oprah, where they share personal anecdotes, insights, and research findings. These conversations touch on a wide range of topics, from childhood trauma and attachment to resilience and healing. They also emphasize the importance of empathy, connection, and understanding in the journey towards recovery.

As they navigate these conversations, the authors introduce readers to the concept of the “Childhood Emotional Neglect” (CEN) scale, which measures the impact of emotional neglect during one’s upbringing. They argue that CEN can be as damaging as other forms of trauma, highlighting the need to recognize and address these emotional wounds.

“What Happened to You?” is a testament to the power of vulnerability. Both authors open up about their own experiences with trauma, inviting readers to reflect on their own stories. Oprah, for instance, shares her memories of growing up in a challenging environment and how these experiences shaped her. Dr. Perry draws upon his extensive clinical expertise to provide valuable insights into the science of trauma and recovery.

The book culminates in a call to action, urging readers to embrace empathy, compassion, and understanding in their interactions with others. It offers a roadmap for healing, emphasizing the importance of relationships, self-reflection, and seeking professional help when needed. Ultimately, it reminds us that healing is possible, and it begins with acknowledging and addressing our past traumas.


“What Happened to You?” has garnered widespread acclaim from readers and critics alike, who have praised its empathetic approach and transformative insights.

The New York Times hailed the book as “a groundbreaking work that challenges the way we think about trauma and offers a path to healing.”
Psychology Today called it “a compassionate and deeply insightful exploration of the human experience.”
Oprah Magazine described it as “a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the impact of trauma on their life and the lives of others.”
Readers have also shared their heartfelt reviews:

Sarah J. wrote, “This book changed my perspective on my own life and the lives of those around me. It made me realize that behind every behavior, there’s a story, and it’s essential to approach others with empathy and understanding.”
John P. commented, “Dr. Perry and Oprah’s conversations are like a lifeline for anyone who has experienced trauma. Their wisdom and vulnerability make this book a true gem.”
Maria L. shared, “I can’t thank the authors enough for shedding light on the healing journey. ‘What Happened to You?’ is a gift to humanity.”


The book is filled with thought-provoking and inspirational quotes that resonate with readers. Here are a few notable ones:

“Trauma is not what happens to you; it’s what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you.” – Dr. Bruce D. Perry

“Understanding the ‘why’ behind someone’s behavior can change the way you respond to them.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Healing is not a destination; it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-compassion.” – Dr. Bruce D. Perry

“Empathy is the key that unlocks the door to healing.” – Oprah Winfrey

“We can’t change the past, but we can change our relationship with it.” – Dr. Bruce D. Perry


Q : Who should read “What Happened to You?”
A : This book is for anyone interested in understanding the impact of trauma on human behavior and relationships. It’s especially relevant for individuals who have experienced trauma themselves, as well as those who want to support loved ones on their healing journey.

Q : What sets “What Happened to You?” apart from other self-help books?
A : The unique aspect of this book is the heartfelt and enlightening conversations between Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Their personal stories, combined with scientific insights, create a powerful narrative that resonates with readers on a profound level.

Q : Is the book solely focused on childhood trauma?
A : While childhood trauma is a central theme, the book also explores trauma in various life stages and highlights the significance of understanding emotional neglect, attachment, and resilience across the lifespan.

“What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing” is a groundbreaking and empathetic exploration of the human experience. Through candid conversations, insightful research, and personal anecdotes, Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey provide readers with a roadmap to understanding and healing from trauma. This transformative book has the power to change lives, fostering empathy and compassion in our interactions with others and, most importantly, with ourselves. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking personal growth, healing, and a deeper understanding of the human psyche.