Category Archives: Review – books movies series

What happened to you? (2021)

I won’t deny that I picked up this book from the Libby app due to the names of the author. I have never watched her show, but definitely heard quite a lot about her on the news.

What happened to you? Conversations on trauma, resilience and healing, by Dr Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey.

I finished reading (listening to) it about two months ago, during that time I was going through a pregnancy and then a miscarriage, I wouldn’t say that it’s relevant to me personally but the fact that it’s conversational by both the authors (yes, the authors read the book themselves, not by someone else), it is just nice to listen to it that way. The only problem is that Winfrey surely speaks much faster than Dr Perry, so I can’t really play it on a faster speed (as I normally do), because I will be missing what Winfrey was saying. And it’s nobody’s fault, just personal styles I guess.

Dr Perry shares how our brains deal with trauma, and what happened to people who experience trauma at a very young age (how this affects their future relationships). He does so in a very non-dry and clear way. He also shares many interesting cases that he’s worked with. Whereas Oprah Winfrey mainly shares about her personal experiences and asks questions.

For me personally, my key takeaways would be:

  • Don’t ask “What’s wrong with you?” but say “What happened to you?”, be curious but not judgemental, don’t be too quick to conclude before we understand someone’s history.
  • The very key thing that heals people from trauma are having connections, experiencing healthy relationships.

Overall it’s a very interesting and enjoyable book. In terms of informational vs interesting, there is such a good balance. But do not look for randomised controlled trial or systematic reviews kind of scientific evidence, it’s more of reporting of case studies and expert opinions based on his experience working in the field.

Documentary: Untold: The Girlfriend who didn’t exist

Right, after 2.5 years, I’m finally tested covid positive. So the good thing is I don’t have to travel to work (but I’m still working from home), and I have time to flip to Netflix again!

This is what I watched yesterday:

Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist' Effectively Unpacks One Of College  Football's Craziest Scandals [Review]
Untold: The girlfriend who didn’t exist

Obviously, spoiler ahead so if you might watch it maybe do not read on. But I’m not going to be writing synopsis of the documentary, but more of what I think and feel after watching it, so if you don’t mind that, read on! (I mean, some people just don’t mind being told the ending before they watch a movie!)

I believe just like many other audience, we feel really sorry for the NFL footballer Manti Te’O, watching how his life was ruined falling in love with this “girl” online. But when we really looked at it, did he do anything wrong, at all??

The answer is clearly a big No. In fact he is portrayed as such a well-brought up kid, kind, religious, focused, determined, influential and inspirational. We can’t guarantee that his future was definitely going to be much brighter than what he has now should this not happen, but we can be almost sure about that based on how he was like before it all came out as a “hoax”. (He is a victim in this hoax but portrayed by the reporters as a perpetrator!)

Now second question, is what she did wrong? Do you think? Like wrong ethically/morally? Illegally? Is catfishing (google says: the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona) wrong?

Clearly Netflix didn’t choose to portray her as “wrong”… But still, you can’t stop your audience from feeling the sympathy towards Manti which also leads to more anger towards Naya (born and then known as Ronaiah). You can’t do one thing leaving another, and I think this is the problem of Netflix in this documentary.

But I was wondering why Netflix took that stance. And my best guess would be because Naya is a trans. She is part of a minority group, she is part of the LGBTQ+ group, she had suffered a lot due to her gender confusion in her life, she was just young and confused because she didn’t understand her gender identity and perhaps wanting to explore it.

Are these some good reasons to catfish someone? Are these great reasons to ruin someone else’s life and career and even family?

Obviously no. I mean if you have been following my blog, you probably would have noticed how strong an advocate I am for the LGBTQ+, and I’m not just doing this online, but also in the school I’m working at. I think for cisgendered people like the majority of us, it’s impossible for us to imagine the struggles the gender non conforming people have. I surely feel bad for Naya. But I strongly believe that if she hasn’t already, she really should look at the consequences of her actions, own it up and sincerely face it and apologise, even though Manti already said he forgave her… Because based on what’s shown, she doesn’t seem to feel bad for him or is remorseful at all…

Counselling for Toads (1997)

It must have been last year when a non-psychology-field friend asked me whether I knew about this book, and I didn’t and went to google about it. Few months later I decided to start listening to it on the Libby app (yes, another audio book!), and I tell you what, it’s such a popular book that the people who want to hold it was more than 50 and the waiting for quite a few months.

Counselling for Toads: a psychological adventure, by Robert de Board. Audio book narrated by Charles Hunt

I really never heard about it prior to this. I don’t know what I was doing before this.

As a psychologist, I can’t help listening to the book and thought “what? We don’t do that!” “What? this is not evidence-based” “Err that’s misleading!” etc.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting. It most likely provides you with some insight and what happens in a counselling session. You might learn a skill or two, or gain some more rational and healthy beliefs reading it too.

But I’d say some of the stuff in there are dated, and it’s more of a story, for entertaining purpose, than for therapeutic or educational purposes – doesn’t mean that you won’t learn anything or “get healed” reading it, because I’m sure I did learn something and many people did too!

It’s available in Chinese too.

Documentary: Girl in the picture (2022)

Yet another Netflix documentary I’ve watched and would really want to write about it.

Girl in the Picture.

I mean, someone who was taken away from her birth parents, sexually and physically abused all her life till her death at 20 years old, but to everyone who met and got to know her, sees how much potential she has, how kind she is, how smart and how much she would have achieved should she be able to get away from the monster, the so-called “daddy” who later became her husband. It’s almost as if nobody spotted anything wrong with her, until (or unless) they met the “father”. 

What kind of resilience can a person have? To what level? How decide how resilient and strong someone can be in face of this from a very young age? 

We often talk about trauma and how it affects someone – how can someone who was brought up and abused and lived that way… Be so strong, kind, smart, focused, succeeding, socialising etc? How? How do we raise the next generation, okay maybe I’m being too greedy, but a child like that? 

Anyway, it can be distressing watching documentary like this, knowing someone had gone through awful things. But it really made me wonder…

If you or someone you know are going through violence or abuse, here is some resources:

The Stranger in the lifeboat (2021)

I picked this book on the Libby app without having any clues at all what it is about, and I finished listening it in a few days (it was probably one to two months ago) and again having quite a lot question marks wondering what it’s about – yes, after I finished reading the book!

The Stranger in the lifeboat, a novel by Mitch Albom

Then I realised it is a novel. I realised I hardly allow myself to read any novels in the past few years unless it’s for good reasons (I get hooked up by good novels too easily and can’t stop myself reading so at one point in my life I just stopped allowing myself to come near to any novels, I still have many of them from Big Bad Wolf that I haven’t read!)

Anyway, it’s actually a novel about faith and help. The way I was brought up and living in a non-religious way means that I can find it hard to connect with the idea of this book. The stranger in this lifeboat after a yacht wrecked tells other passengers that he is “the lord”, but also because of my very curious mindset, I enjoyed the reading and was very curious how I’d respond if I meet someone who claims to be the god, what help would I ask, would I be like some of the passengers who find it ridiculous and impossible. He said he answers to every prayer, but sometimes the answer is No. What do you think?

I guess I always have faith, I make wishes, I ask for help knowing I have to work on it, I thank god (not a specified one normally). So it’s not about being religious or not, but about having faith and belief and hope, and you will probably enjoy reading it.

More than a body (2021)

I haven’t recommended any book to do with eating disorders so far. I wonder why because I do read quite a few though not usually cover to cover. But I came across this book published last year, written by both PhD twin sisters, and found it pretty relevant. 

More than a body: Your body is an instrument, not an ornament, by Linsay Kite PhD and Lexie Kite PhD

There are six chapters covering:

  • Rising with Body Image Resilience
  • Critiquing and Creating your Media Environment
  • From Self-Objectification to Self-Actualisation
  • From Divided to United as Women
  • Reclaiming Health and Fitness for yourself
  • A Resilient Reunion

It’s less so a workbook (unlike “The Inside Scoop on Eating Disorder Recovery”), but more of a journey of gaining perspectives, awareness and insights. However, in the beginning of each chapter there are usually some questions asked, for reflection purposes and it’d be good to do so before you begin reading the chapter.