Tag Archives: Mental Health

Oprah and “60 Minutes” on Childhood Trauma




“For me it was school,  and teachers…”

Overall, this report was not so much about Oprah personally, nor her own life experience, but more about the phenomena (or, in a loose way, the ‘science’) of childhood trauma. She highlights the trauma-informed work being done at “SaintA” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., whom she interviews, is considered one of the 3 or 4 leading researchers and practitioners in the world (going the whole way back to the kids in the Waco fiasco).  He is Founder and Senior Fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy, in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Perry made powerful points:  Children are more vulnerable to fear and stress than adults.  Childhood, when brains are physically forming, is the period of greatest sensitivity for the brain.

A child’s developing brain doesn’t ‘just get over it’.  Unaddressed, trauma in children generates lifelong impacts, and can end in early death.


Dr. Perry was also crystal clear in bringing ‘relationships’ to the forefront as the counterpoint to traumatic stress in childhood.


Oprah was very clear on changing perspectives.

She did a great job emphasizing the change required to the perspective of adults in the way we try to understand  —  from the old, judgmental “What’s wrong with you?” to the more appropriate and insightful question: “What happened to you?”

It’s a change based firmly in both science and practice,  as described by Sandra Bloom, M.D.,  in context of her developmental work on The Sanctuary Model:

“We (the treatment team for Sanctuary) were in a team meeting sometime around 1991 on our inpatient unit, trying to describe the change that had happened to us in recognizing and responding to the issue of trauma, especially what has become known now as childhood adversity – as a causal issue for the problems of most of the people we were treating and Joe Foderaro, LCSW, always good at pithy observations, said “it’s that we have changed our fundamental question from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?”. (Published in “Comments” section at ACEsConnection.com here )  

(More in her book.  Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies  Revised Edition, page 195 )


Oprah also includes a very brief overview of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).   Much more information is available:    Click here and  here.

Oprah’s investigative report for “60 minutes” reveals only the tip of the epidemic,  but it’s a huge boost to the visibility of the issue.


CLICK  on the blue text Links above and below for more information:

1) CBS ‘trailer’ for the report:



2) ‘Resilience’ and ‘Grit’ don’t matter while there is a hole in your soul…



3) Oprah highlights the impact of her teachers and school on her life trajectory  (on 60 Minutes Overtime.com).  A much younger Oprah interviews one of her teachers.  Oprah talks about the impact of her investigation for “60 Minutes” on her personal perspective of others and on the school ( Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls) she funds in South Africa.  



4) Oprah’s full Report:


5) More detail on the science and on the practice related to Developmental Trauma, at the link below:


Nowhere to hide:  “The Elephant in the Classroom”

Trauma during development or, childhood trauma, changes the architecture of the physical brain and the ability to learn and social behavior.  It impacts 2 out of 3 children at some level, but I didn’t even know what it was…


6) “Like” us at  “Trauma-Informed Schools” on Facebook