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10 things I learned from “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing" by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry

10 things I learned from “What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing"
by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry

    1. When anything happens it gets processed by the “lizard brain” first before it gets to the amygdala where we have a sense of time

    This is why some PTSD problems case reactions as if the past event is happening again at the real time. The example they gave was of a soldier that was responding to loud noises as if he was back in the battlefield 30 years earlier. His brain process reacted before the amygdala could remind him that it was the present day.

    2. We get out of the world what we put into the world

    If you put joy out into the world you will receive joy. If you put out worry, sadness or loneliness other people will respond to that and you will receive that back. They discussed children ignored and neglected at home and how they disappeared at school: they did not reach out or participate in class. They hid in plain sight in the classroom until teachers were trained to look for these characteristics.

    3. Childhood experiences affect the way the brain is constructed. Love expressed to an infant and young child is extremely important. (So are chaotic and negative experiences)

    4. Disassociation is the opposite coping mechanism to fight or flight. It is a calming adaptive state but can also become maladaptive if you get stuck in it.

    5. Reaction to trauma can trigger adrenaline which releases sugar into the bloodstream.

    If this is true then stress can directly affect your weight. In the US many emergency room nurses are overweight (not trying to throw shade, just making an observation)... maybe this is more than a coincidence.

    6. Neglect is as bad as trauma

    They referenced the Romanian orphanages of the 1980s: tragic. You need a strong stomach to learn more about what happened to these poor children.

    7. Conversation and repairing rifts and disagreements is part of increasing interaction and creating better social bonding

    Working through disagreements and witnessing other people do it is a part of creating a rich and resilient society.

    8. Today there are fewer natural interactions between family members: cell phones and overworking can cause this

    9. Modern life is continuously stressing on many fronts

    Noise, distractions, over-connectivity, and bad food add stress to many parts of life.

    10. One of the ideas behind the book is to think about "what happened to you" instead of "what is wrong with you" or having a particular diagnosis.

    They referenced holistic approaches to health: physical, mental, and emotional health interaction. There is a move to treat symptoms (depression, PTSD) instead of trying to discover what happened to cause these symptoms. Frequently "what is wrong with you" is a reaction to "what happened to you" and understanding the relationship between these leads to healing.

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