I just watched Oprah’s report on 60 Minutes about the ACE (adverse childhood experiences) study.

I have been very interested in this study for a couple years now. The study began in a weight loss clinic in San Diego in the mid-’90s. I believe it’s the most important public health study ever done in the history of this country. Whether we’re talking about school shootings or the “me too” campaign, obesity or cancer, ACE’s are relevant to all these conversations and many more!

So while I’m thrilled Oprah did a story on the ACE study I didn’t like that they profiled poor, black women in Milwaukee for the story. This just perpetuates the stereotype that the problems are about “those people” in “those zip codes” which is unfortunate because the actual ACE study consisted of 70% Caucasian, college educated, middle-class Americans who were employed with good health insurance through Kaiser. So this group of people (middle-class white Americans) who watched 60 Minutes tonight will probably think this story wasn’t about them. Which couldn’t be further from the truth!

The 60 Minutes story also emphasized, “it’s not about what’s wrong with the person, but what happened to the person.”

Fair enough, and true.

But it is important to know that trauma can also occur because things DIDN’T happen as well.

Finally, trauma is not just sexual abuse. Trauma can be something like being held down in a dentist chair as a small child and not being able to fight or flee — in any situation where the nervous system is activated from toxic shame, belittling, chaos, etc.

Again, I’m glad Oprah told this story but there is so much more to this story.

If you’re interested in more, I highly recommend Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s books about ACEs (she’s a medical journalist) her books are incredible – “The Last Best Cure” and “Childhood Disrupted.”

Watch Dr. Nadine Burke’s TEDx talk on the ACE study. It’s excellent!

Go to the website ACEs Too High for all the data and research. Then watch “A Tribute To Dr. Vincent Felitti” on YouTube – he is the lead researcher on this study.

It’s important for EVERYONE to know about and understand ACE’s!