Our most initial experiences form our stories as we get older, and the book What Happened to You? Provides a powerful scientific and emotional insight into the behavioural patterns so many of us struggle to understand fully.

What Happened to You – Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing speaks to the sensitive subject of trauma and its effects on our brains, bodies, and behaviour. Coauthor Oprah Winfrey recounts her own experiences as a young woman, wrote the book in collaboration with psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry, a researcher at the Child Trauma Academy. Together they examine how old traumas affect people later in life and what can be done about them.

“Through this lens, we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”
Oprah Winfrey

Through deeply personal conversations together, Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry, M.D., endeavour to help us see that we have to adjust our ideas about trauma to understand people, behaviour, and ourselves truly. Doing so allows us to understand our pasts and then paves a clear path to our future. Whilst opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way. “What Happened to You” examines understanding behaviour from other people and ourselves through stories from Winfrey’s past, where she experiences the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age.

“Each of us creates a unique world view shaped by our life’s experiences, and most of that comes—that world view is shaped when you are a child.” Oprah

In the moving account of the tragic events with abuse as a little girl, Oprah shares her life in Mississippi with her brutal grandmother, who regularly “whipped” her. She recounts later how she alternated amid living with her father in Nashville and with her mother in Milwaukee, where she was made to sleep on the outside porch, facing a terrifying sense of desolation.

What Happened To You, co-authored by Dr Bruce Perry, is for anyone with a mother, father, partner, or child who may have endured trauma. 

The earlier the trauma, the harder it is to heal. And if you’ve ever had labels like “people pleaser,” “self-sabotager,” “disruptive,” “argumentative,” “checked out,” “can’t hold a job,” or “bad at relationships” used to describe you or your loved ones, this book is also for you. Or if you want to understand yourself and others better

About the Authors: Through the power of media, Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people worldwide. For twenty-five years, the Oprah Winfrey Show inspired, informed, and uplifted millions of viewers. Her global media icon and humanitarian achievements have secured her as one of the most valued and revered public figures now.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., PhD, a child psychiatrist and neuroscientist, is the principal of the Neurosequential Network, senior fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy and an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. He is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children and Born for Love, about the fundamental nature of empathy.


  • Sunita Sehmi

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    Org Dev Consultant I Exec Leadership Performance Coach I DEI Warrior I Author I Mentor I Work smarter I Live better I Think deeper. With over three decades of expertise in multicultural environments, Sunita brings a unique blend of Indian, British, and Swiss heritage to her consultancy, fostering a deep understanding of organisational contexts and her clients. Sunita’s insights and expertise are tailored to elevate your leadership.