Blog Book Review

Book Review: What Happened to You?

Book what happened to you there is a women drawn with blue and green colors, this is the cover of the book.
Picture I took of the cover – I removed the library sticker that was covering the word, “What.”

If you want to understand how events or trauma from your childhood affect your current behaviors, I suggest this book! Oprah writes about her upbringing and connects events from her adulthood to her childhood. And Dr. Perry shares his findings from over 30 years of neuroscience research and different stories from clients he’s helped. He breaks down how the brain stores memories and where in the brain they are stored. It’s truly an insightful book.

Few things I learned:

  1. Our viewpoint of the world starts as soon as we are born, believe it or not.
  2. Infants can sense the environment, for example, if there is tension or if they are in a loving home.
  3. Our brain associates trauma with our senses – like touch or smell.
  4. How we were cared for as infants and children affects our brain development, and not only that – but also the timing of when the trauma happened is important and impactful. Since children’s brains develop the fastest before the first two years – that is where the event affects the brain most.
  5. Trauma affects our health (from mental health or physical health).

Few things that stood out to me:

  1. Dr. Perry writes that therapy is more about building new associations and making new, healthier default pathways.
  2. When he talked about implicit bias – he said, “These beliefs and values are stored in the highest, most complex part of your braid – the cortex. But other parts of your brain can make associations – distorted, inaccurate, racist associations.” He explains that a person can have anti-racist beliefs but still have implicit biases that come with racist comments or actions.
  3. His definition of racism is, “In the U.S., racism is the marginalization and oppression of people of color by systems created by white men to privilege white people.” Yup, that is systemic racism, and that does fall into CRT.
  4. The last thing that stood out to me was how Dr. Perry says we can heal as a society. “How can our society move toward a more humane, socially just, creative, and productive future without confronting our collective historical trauma? Both trauma experienced and trauma inflicted. If we truly want to understand ourselves, we need to understand our history – our true history. Because the emotional residue of our past follows us.” – Dr. Bruce Perry.

Overall, this book is about changing the question from “why are you like that” to “what happened to you.” Because our upbringing has a lot to do with who we are.

This book is a great resource, but I still fully believe in therapy and doing the work to heal and better ourselves.

With Love, Heidy