Oprah Winfrey’s emotional disabilities are once again in the spotlight as CBS announced today that Oprah is joining “60 Minutes” as a “special contributor.” Oprah, who has publicly shared that she was sexually abused from age 10 to 14, that she was promiscuous as a teen, and that she became pregnant as a 14-year-old young girl has never hidden the power behind her personal secret to success.
Among the characteristics of emotional disabilities, Oprah Winfrey has openly discussed her behavior disorder (stemming from her sexual abuse), anxiety (including social anxiety), low self-esteem, and her eating disorder.
Despite all of these emotional disabilities, how was it possible that Oprah Winfrey turned into North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black woman? How was it possible that Oprah became the owner of her own American television show, a talk show host, an actress, a producer, and the greatest black philanthropist in American history?
The source of Oprah’s emotional turmoil
The most crucial lesson Oprah Winfrey can provide to any student who struggles with emotional disabilities is that you can turn a curse into a gift – and success.
Born to an unmarried teen mom in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954, Oprah spent the first six years of her life in rural poverty. While Oprah’s mom had traveled north, the little girl stayed with her maternal grandmother. Though grandma taught Oprah to read before she was even three years old, Oprah also experienced getting beaten with a stick if she didn’t behave or do her chores.
Genetic testing determining that Oprah was 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian reaffirmed that when it came to belonging to someone or somewhere, there was no clear culture.
At age six, Oprah moved with her mom to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1962, by the age of eight, Oprah was sent temporarily to Nashville, Tennessee, to live with her father while her mom gave birth to a third child. After returning back to her mom at the age on nine, Oprah Winfrey’s time at home turned into neglect from her mom and sexual abuse by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend.
At the age of 14, Oprah Winfrey tried to succeed in school. However, despite her academic accomplishments, she experienced discrimination because of her poverty and her cultural background. Young Oprah Winfrey’s emotional pain manifested itself into acting out, stealing money from her mom, lying, arguing, and behaving inappropriately with much older boys.
The magic and secret behind Oprah
Frustrated about her daughter, Oprah’s mom sent the misbehaving teen back to Nashville, Tennessee. Under her father’s strict but encouraging rules, Oprah Winfrey learned that education was a priority and key to success — with the right support.
Besides becoming an honors student, getting a job as a teenager, and exploring her natural talents at a radio station, Oprah learned the slow healing process of Awareness – Acceptance – and Action.
Oprah Winfrey’s action during her early career included sharing her emotional turmoil with her audience. In addition to getting professional help, she opened up to her audience, to her guests, and the world.
Sharing the deepest and darkest secrets of one’s life made Oprah Winfrey vulnerable – but also true, authentic, and someone worth talking to.
Oprah Winfrey on ’60 Minutes’
Even though today’s announcement by CBS did not provide any specifics as to what Winfrey would be covering on “60 Minutes,” Jeff Fager, the show’s executive producer, commented that “There is only one Oprah Winfrey.”
“She is a remarkable and talented woman with a level of integrity that sets her apart and makes her a perfect fit for ’60 Minutes’,” he added.
Oprah Winfrey’s honesty, truthfulness, reliability, and uprightness is what students with emotional disabilities need to hear. They, too, can turn their emotional turmoil into success.
For parents and educators, observing Oprah’s skill of being able to listen, to emphasize, and not to be judgmental is something precious to learn.