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Heroes in My Head: A Memoir

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In this riveting memoir, Judy Rebick, one of Canada’s best-known feminists, lays bare the public and private battles that have shaped her life. She documents two major decades in her life: the 1980s, when she became a high-profile spokesperson for the pro-choice movement during the fight to legalize abortion; and the 1990s, when she took on her biggest challenge as a publi In this riveting memoir, Judy Rebick, one of Canada’s best-known feminists, lays bare the public and private battles that have shaped her life. She documents two major decades in her life: the 1980s, when she became a high-profile spokesperson for the pro-choice movement during the fight to legalize abortion; and the 1990s, when she took on her biggest challenge as a public figure by becoming president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Here, for the first time, she also reveals the very private battles she waged during these important decades. The result is a fascinating, heartbreaking, but ultimately empowering story.


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In this riveting memoir, Judy Rebick, one of Canada’s best-known feminists, lays bare the public and private battles that have shaped her life. She documents two major decades in her life: the 1980s, when she became a high-profile spokesperson for the pro-choice movement during the fight to legalize abortion; and the 1990s, when she took on her biggest challenge as a publi In this riveting memoir, Judy Rebick, one of Canada’s best-known feminists, lays bare the public and private battles that have shaped her life. She documents two major decades in her life: the 1980s, when she became a high-profile spokesperson for the pro-choice movement during the fight to legalize abortion; and the 1990s, when she took on her biggest challenge as a public figure by becoming president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Here, for the first time, she also reveals the very private battles she waged during these important decades. The result is a fascinating, heartbreaking, but ultimately empowering story.

30 review for Heroes in My Head: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Farzana Doctor

    Just finished this wonderful memoir by Judy Rebick! It’s a page-turning chronicle of her political and personal life and how Dissociative Identity disorder helped her cope with trauma and fueled her “superpowers” in activism. I am so grateful for her silence breaking and her fierce leadership. A fabulous read for anyone interested in North American politics, political history and mental health.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Judy Rebick

    Heroes In My Head my new memoir is now available in bookstores everywhere in Canada. Also available electronically.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jane Mulkewich

    Wow. What a story; what a woman; what a writer. I was privileged to hear Judy read from this book yesterday at GritLit (Hamilton's literary festival), and bought my copy (and had her sign it of course) and did not put the book down until I finished it. A riveting read indeed. Different from all of her previous books because here she reveals her childhood sexual abuse (which was repressed even to her own memory until she was triggered many many years later), and the eleven personalities she devel Wow. What a story; what a woman; what a writer. I was privileged to hear Judy read from this book yesterday at GritLit (Hamilton's literary festival), and bought my copy (and had her sign it of course) and did not put the book down until I finished it. A riveting read indeed. Different from all of her previous books because here she reveals her childhood sexual abuse (which was repressed even to her own memory until she was triggered many many years later), and the eleven personalities she developed (multiple personality disorder - now called dissociative identity disorder - but Judy argues it should not even be labelled a disorder - it was a protective strategy to help survive an injury). In Judy's case, she was healing / dealing with all of this when she was president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and leading high-profile national struggles... she has long been a hero of my mine, and to know more about her very personal struggles has demonstrated her bravery and her leadership all that much more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is an honest, brave, and uninhibited telling of Judy Rebick's life. If you know her already, this memoir will make you further appreciate her life and work and if you don't know her, there couldn't be a better introduction. She opens herself to the world by revealing her trauma, her coping mechanisms, and describes how both manifested themselves throughout her prolific activist career. The book offers unequivocal insights into Dissociative Identity Disorder as well as a fascinating chr This book is an honest, brave, and uninhibited telling of Judy Rebick's life. If you know her already, this memoir will make you further appreciate her life and work and if you don't know her, there couldn't be a better introduction. She opens herself to the world by revealing her trauma, her coping mechanisms, and describes how both manifested themselves throughout her prolific activist career. The book offers unequivocal insights into Dissociative Identity Disorder as well as a fascinating chronology of Rebick's significant role in Canadian women's rights and especially the pro-choice movement. It's refreshing to hear a woman be candidly aware of her own strengths (and to be unabashed in sharing them), while also acknowledging her privileges and support systems; this is the type of uplifting role model needed in feminism and activism today. Thank you Judy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.H. Gordon

    2.5 stars. Based on the back cover description, I was expecting a focused, detailed account/analysis of the author's experience of dissociative identity disorder ; instead, this book was a linear telling of Rebick's life from childhood to the present - more autobiography than memoir. Rebick has lived an interesting life, however, the awkward, prosaic writing left me bored and frustrated at times. I do admire the author for her tireless social justice work, particularly with abortion rights in Ca 2.5 stars. Based on the back cover description, I was expecting a focused, detailed account/analysis of the author's experience of dissociative identity disorder ; instead, this book was a linear telling of Rebick's life from childhood to the present - more autobiography than memoir. Rebick has lived an interesting life, however, the awkward, prosaic writing left me bored and frustrated at times. I do admire the author for her tireless social justice work, particularly with abortion rights in Canada, but I wanted more focus and sophistication from the writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Judy Rebick’s memoir, Heroes in my head, reads like a fast paced novel, interweaving a most personal story of discovery- addressing questions of sexual abuse, memory, mental health, and healing work, with a life of political activism. Within this narrative the book also shares the history of some of the most important moments in progressive history, and feminist history in Canada - and identifies moments that relate past movements to present day challenges and debates.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Sark

    “The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion.” (bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love) Prologue – Warrior Woman p.1 – On June 15, 1983, Dr. Henry Morgentaler opened an illegal abortion clinic in Toronto. The Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC) had chosen a spot on the second floor of a lovely Victorian house on Harbord “The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion.” (bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love) Prologue – Warrior Woman p.1 – On June 15, 1983, Dr. Henry Morgentaler opened an illegal abortion clinic in Toronto. The Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC) had chosen a spot on the second floor of a lovely Victorian house on Harbord Street, a quiet downtown thoroughfare lined with bookstores and cafés near the University of Toronto. With the Toronto Women’s Bookstore on the ground floor, we were assured of supportive neighbours. The interior staircase up to the clinic was useful for security purposes – if anyone broke in, it gave the nurses and doctors time to secure the patients – and there was a front stoop, perfect for rallies. p.1-2 – OCAC had convinced Dr. Morgentaler to open a clinic in Toronto to repeat the success he had with his clinic in Montreal. After three jury acquittals, the Parti Québécois government declared they would no longer prosecute a doctor for conducting abortions under safe conditions – in essence legalizing abortion in Quebec. Criminal law is decided at the federal level in Canada, but the provinces are charged with enforcing the law. Quebec would no longer enforce the restrictive abortion law, which forced a woman to appear before a Therapeutic Abortion Committee (TAC) of three doctors who would decide if her life or health was at stake. p.5 – It was the beginning of an intense struggle on the streets, in the media, and in the courts, culminating in the 1988 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in Canada, a victory that even the right-wing government of Stephen Harper was unable to challenge. It was also when my public image as a warrior for women’s rights was established both in the public’s eyes and in my own. Three – Family Ties p.30 – By the time the Ribecks landed in Toronto [1916], the Schutters were already well settled in Brooklyn. Unlike the Schutters, who were among the almost two million Jews in the New York area, the Rebicks found that anti-Semitism was rampant in early-twentieth-century Toronto. The beaches had signs sating, NO DOGS OR JEWS ALLOWED, and my father told stories of having to fight his way to school almost every day against goyish brutes. Five – “It was McGill that ruined you” p.50 – My activism began the day I walked into the McGill Daily office in downtown Montreal in the fall of 1964. The office occupied most of the basement of the old Student union building. At the centre of the office was a semicircular desk where the editors sat each day. There were a couple of offices along the wall for the editor and managing editor; the rest of us sat in a large open room at whatever desk was empty. The room functioned as a social space as well as a workspace. p.51 – The Daily was the centre of radicalism at McGill. The New Left, which was what we called the radical student movement in the United States and Britain, had been redefining left-wing politics for a couple of years, mostly on campus. The New Left rejected the old leftist ideas of social democracy and Communism. The focus was on democracy and fulfilling the promise of government for, by, and of the people. I didn’t know anything about political activism but I loved the energy, the excitement, and the people involved in the movement. They were like me: misfits. Instead of admitting ignorance, I just kept my mouth shut, listened, worked hard, and dressed all in black so I looked like a radical. Everyone thought I was a lot savvier than I was. My first byline was for an article covering a speech given by pioneer feminist Laura Sabia to the McGill Women’s Union in November 1964. Mrs. Sabia was appealing to the “girls,” as we would have been called then, to stay in school. “The natural instinct to have children will be just as strong when you are thirty as it is when you are twenty,” she explained. Women were first admitted to McGill in 1884 but were not allowed to join the Students’ Society until 1931. The Women’s Union at McGill was founded during the First World War to organize care packages for soldiers; thereafter it continued to give women students a voice. In the 1960s, things were beginning to change. In 1964 Joy Fenston was the editor of the Daily, and the following year Sharon Sholzberg was the first female president of the Students’ Society. It would be a few years before the new generation of feminists, no doubt some of them in that very room, began their revolution. p.52 – Looking at old issues of the Daily, it is clear that I had what we probably called the women’s beat. Six – Love Lost p.73 – When I graduated from McGill, I applied for a full-time job at a private radio station writing news, where many of my male Daily friends were working. “We don’t hire girls in the newsroom,” the producer told me. “The men swear in the newsroom and wouldn’t be comfortable with a girl.” “I don’t give a shit if they swear,” I responded. And then I was doubly damned not only for being a woman but a foul-mouthed woman at that. Quebec’s human rights charter was not passed until 1975; at the time, discrimination against women was still legal. Seven – No Way Home p.77 – Within a year I decided to move to New York City. I found Toronto really boring and became disillusioned with journalism rather quickly. Both the anti-war and the student movements were growing in leaps and bounds, and the assassination of Martin Luther King sparked uprisings in Black communities across the country, strengthening the Black Power movement. The youth revolution in France in May and June of 1968 had a major impact on the New Left, transforming what started as a movement for democracy and against war into a more general revolutionary movement that raised questions about capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. New York was one of the centres of radical change in politics, lifestyle, music, and the arts. I was still an American citizen so there was no legal barrier to the move and my aunts were glad to put me up. Even though I didn’t get directly involved in activism, my experiences in New York shaped many of my political views in the years to come. p.78 – I arrived in Brooklyn in the fall of 1968. My first job was at Christina Gorby, the coolest dress store in the East Village. Greenwich Village had been the centre of the Beat movement and the jazz revival, and now it was the centre of the folk scene. But it was the East Village that was hip in 1968. p.79 – In Toronto, men looked askance at “easy” women but New York was an entirely different story. Greenwich Village was one big pickup scene. It seemed that every café and every bar was populated with men and women on the make. Without much effort, I could have had sex with a different man every night. I didn’t go quite that fat but I certainly made up for lost time. p.83 – New York City was violent in those years and sexual harassment was rampant. We didn’t have a name for it then, but if you walked alone at night in New York City, some man was always exposing himself, grabbing you, or at the very least explicitly hitting on you. Most women I knew never walked alone at night but I wasn’t willing to restrict myself that way. I learned quickly that the best way to deal with the harassment was to make a scene: there were always people around and New Yorkers, bless them, rarely mind their own business. p.85 – When the police arrived, the gunman was standing over the body [of the woman he killed] waiting for them. He was her boyfriend. The next morning the tiny lobby was full of people asking, “Who called the police?” They had all heard the scream and the shot, and I was the only one who called the police. The day, I decided to leave New York. The city was very heavy, and I had had enough of the violence, the racism, the sexism, and the harassment. I wanted to go somewhere a young, independent woman could be free. Nine – The Revolutionary Seventies p.111 – Alienated youth had become the social service challenge of the early 1970s. For several years, young people had been hanging and smoking dope and dropping acid in Yorkville. The cultural side of the sixties youth radicalism rejected consumer society and thousands of young people lived involuntary poverty, doing drugs and often living collectively or crashing whenever they could. One of the slogans of the youth culture was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” and they didn’t. It was difficult for established social services to cope with them. My job as a counsellor was to help kids come down from bad trips, refer them to a medical clinic for VD, and sometimes help them find a place to stay. I was good at it, but it didn’t really engage me. Eleven – Get Up, Stand Up p.143 – The 1980s was the height of the women’s movement in Canada. In addition to the battle on choice, women were fighting for pay equity, affordable and accessible child care, and gender equality under the constitution. There was already a network of rape crisis centres and shelters providing services to women and advocating for better laws and more awareness of male violence against women. Young women had established co-operative daycare centres on campuses across the country and were working to get government support. p.144 – We had the struggles of the seventies under our belt, having learned a lot about organizing and lobbying. And there were more women in professional jobs, which provided both a financial base and a certain access to power that we hadn’t had during the previous decade, but women were still struggling for equality. Twelve – The Clinic Will Stay Open p.153 – On October 14, 1984, Dr. Morgentaler and his colleagues stood trial for performing abortions at the Toronto clinic. I remember only three things from the trial. First, the anti-Semitism. It so happened that Henry, his lawyer Morris Manning, and I – the three most visible people on the pro-choice side – were all Jewish. More than one cartoon exaggerated Morgentaler’s Jewish features and another looked like something drawn up by the Nazis to mobilize hatred against the Jews. p.158 – On January 28, 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that the abortion law violated Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, infringing upon a woman’s right to “life, liberty, and security of the person.” Chief Justice Brian Dickson wrote: “Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus an infringement of security of the person.” It was a total victory. Fourteen – The Political Becomes the Personal p.178 – The week after the December 6, 1989 massacre [at the École Polytechnique, engineering school affiliated with the Université de Montréal] I was invited to speak at a rally on abortion rights in Montreal. Initially, the rally was to focus on Chantal Daigle, whose right to abortion case was going to the Supreme Court. But since the massacre, it became a huge feminist memorial. Every well-known Quebec feminist was there. The women’s movement in Quebec had been remarkably successful. They came from a highly patriarchal culture where women didn’t even have the right to vote until 1940, twenty years after the rest of the country. The women in that room had fought for and won the same degree of equality as elsewhere in Canada in much less time. In one generation they went from the highest birth rate and the highest rate of weddings to the lowest. Women’s status in society changed in a truly revolutionary way. Many feminists believed that the action of the assassin was part backlash against those dramatic changes. p.179 – He wanted to kill them, prominent feminists, but he couldn’t get to them so he killed these innocent young women instead. Was it survivor guilt? No, it was another form of oppression. Blaming the victim is a component of oppression. It’s part of patriarchy and sexism and it is part of colonialism and racism. What young woman today call “rape culture” is full of this kind of shaming and blaming. Fifteen – And Then There Were Nine p.197 – The National Action Committee on the status of Women was the most powerful women’s group in Canada. NAC was a federation of more than five hundred women’s groups from across Canada, ranging from the Conservative Party Women’s Caucus to the Communist Party Women’s Caucus to the Women’s Temperance League to Vancouver Rape Relief, a radical anti-violence group. A new president was elected every year with a two-term limit. Doris Anderson, a pioneer feminist, had been president of NAC in the early 1980s. Sixteen – Throwing Caution to the Wind p.204 – Just before the June 1990 NAC annual general meeting, in which I would be acclaimed president, the federal government cut $1.6 million from women’s centres and shelters. In Newfoundland, women’s groups occupied the secretary of state’s offices for more than a week to oppose the cutbacks. The secretary of state was responsible for funding women’s groups. The women mobilized tremendous support in the community with people delivering food and drink from around St. John’s. Seventeen – Teetering on the Edge p.220 – On November 3, 1989, justice minister Kim Campbell had introduced Bill C-43, an Act Respecting Abortion. If Bill C-43 was approved by both the House of Commons and the Senate, it would become a criminal offence to induce an abortion on a woman unless it was done by, or under the direction of, a physician who considered that the woman’s life or health was otherwise likely to be threatened. This time, the doctor would be charged, not the patient, but it was a very restrictive law. Eighteen – The Best of Times p.234 – In August 1991, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the rape shield law. Enacted in 1982, after fierce lobbying by women’s groups, the rape shield law prevented the questioning of a rape victim about her sexual history. The Supreme Court rules that this restriction violated the rights of the accused. Justice minister Kim Campbell announced that she would rapidly replace the law. NAC member groups that worked on violence against women called together a number of women’s groups to develop a proposal for the minister. We decided that they key problem in rape cases, which resulted in a very low rate of conviction, was the question of consent. Most accused rapists claimed they believed there was consent and then it was his word against hers. Since the sexual assault laws would have to be rewritten, we decided to push for the inclusion of consent in the law. NAC and the Legal Education Action Fund (LEAF) got a meeting with Campbell and invited key representatives from grassroots violence against women groups to attend. It was a diverse and powerful group, a sign of how sophisticated the women’s movement had become. Campbell was so eager for our support, she called me herself to talk about the meeting in advance. p.236 – When justice minister Kim Campbell arrived, we let the lawyers among us explain how we could include consent in the law. Lee and I made clear that a law that did not define consent would not be acceptable to us. Our experience told us that a definition of consent would result in more convictions in sexual assault cases. It was the only time in my life that I witnessed a minister change her mind in front of a lobby group. The minister [Campbell] wanted this bill to be her legacy, especially after what she saw as the disaster of the failed abortion law, where she introduced a new abortion bill that was defeated in the Senate. She wanted to be seen as a champion of women and needed our support to get the bill through Parliament. p.237 – In the spring of 1992, the new rape law was passed in the House of Commons with rare unanimous consent. While it was an important victory at the time, we’ve found out since that the problem is much more deeply rooted and defining consent was not enough to secure more rape convictions. Epilogue – Is It Over? p.256 – I feel grateful to my five-year-old self for having the imagination, the courage, and the tenacity to split off from the unbearable horror inflicted upon her by the man who was supposed to protect her. She created heroes who protected her from the knowledge that might have driven her mad and certainly would have made her dysfunctional. I don’t see multiple personality disorder as a disorder at all. I thin it’s a brilliant defense mechanism that a child who experiences severe trauma without help can employ. The alters helped me not only survive but thrive in many ways. Given my economic and social privilege, I think the abuse I suffered and my need to face my fragmented personality helped me be a better activist, one who could understand multiple realities faced by people in different circumstances due to colonialism, racism, patriarchy, and capitalism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    What a powerful book Judy Rebick’s “Heroes in my Head” is. Thanks to her for writing it. It’s dynamite. And I’m sure will have an impact. With the #MeToo movement changing the conversation so that women are heard and believed, this book has arrived at just the right time to make waves. A page turner. I admire Judy’s courage and am in awe of all that she has thus far accomplished, not least of which is/was the courage to face her childhood abuse and to deal with and integrate her alters. Bravo!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Greckol

    They made life better for all of us... Heroes In My Head is a remarkable testament to resilience and recovery and to the juice that fixing the world provides. It needs a very wide readership; actually no, we need this book to have a wide readership. Against the backdrop of Quebec and Canadian labour and feminist politics since the 80s, Rebick recounts her discovering and unpacking the injuries inflicted by her sexually abusive father. Rebick, a journalist by training, interrogates her bravery and They made life better for all of us... Heroes In My Head is a remarkable testament to resilience and recovery and to the juice that fixing the world provides. It needs a very wide readership; actually no, we need this book to have a wide readership. Against the backdrop of Quebec and Canadian labour and feminist politics since the 80s, Rebick recounts her discovering and unpacking the injuries inflicted by her sexually abusive father. Rebick, a journalist by training, interrogates her bravery and independence in the light of the dissociation precipitated by this abuse. Her capacity to dissociate, she argues, allowed her to travel independently and act politically without fear. Her telling does not minimize the arduous personal work of recovering these hidden injuries. As a reader who is Rebick's age contemporary and who has marvelled at her political courage and persistence, I am moved by the chronicle of her political work that has made lives better for two generations of women in Canada.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I recently finished reading "Looking for Jane" in the epilogue the author mentioned that she interviewed Judy Rebick for the book. I promptly went online to discover that Judy Rebick had a memoir so I promptly borrowed the book from the library. I've listened to Judy Rebick's memoir over a few days as I was curious to learn more about her. I remember hearing her name when I worked for the Ontario Government and I think she may have been at an event run by the organization that I worked at. Judy w I recently finished reading "Looking for Jane" in the epilogue the author mentioned that she interviewed Judy Rebick for the book. I promptly went online to discover that Judy Rebick had a memoir so I promptly borrowed the book from the library. I've listened to Judy Rebick's memoir over a few days as I was curious to learn more about her. I remember hearing her name when I worked for the Ontario Government and I think she may have been at an event run by the organization that I worked at. Judy was involved in helping legalize abortion in Ontario and worked closely with Dr. Morgenthaler for a number of years. She was also President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women for a few years in the 1990s. She is someone I had always thought of as a change agent. I generally prefer reading books but an audio book that was narrated by her was worth considering. I've listened to a few memoirs that were audio books that I enjoyed. She talks about experiences of having been sexually abused in her childhood so this may not be for everyone. I've enjoyed this and I would recommend this to someone who is interested in equality and social action. If you can get the audio version of this book I would highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ian Kellogg

    All of us have at least some trauma in our lives, and many of us struggle with deep traumas that can make it hard to cope and recover. Rebick's book will be helpful to many who read it, I expect. I know it helped me. All of us have at least some trauma in our lives, and many of us struggle with deep traumas that can make it hard to cope and recover. Rebick's book will be helpful to many who read it, I expect. I know it helped me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Nagle

    -Judy has lived an amazing life, and I loved reading about it -learning about her trauma and DID was especially interesting, and I'm grateful she chose to share her story -Judy is truly a badass woman and I have a lot of respect for her -Judy has lived an amazing life, and I loved reading about it -learning about her trauma and DID was especially interesting, and I'm grateful she chose to share her story -Judy is truly a badass woman and I have a lot of respect for her

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I didn't overly love this book. I've had it on my bookshelf for over a year and finally picked it up as I heard hit and miss things about it and thought to give it a try. I found myself skipping parts of it since I expected the plot to grab my attention better than it did. Overall it was okay. I might give it another try down the road to see if my perspective changes. I didn't overly love this book. I've had it on my bookshelf for over a year and finally picked it up as I heard hit and miss things about it and thought to give it a try. I found myself skipping parts of it since I expected the plot to grab my attention better than it did. Overall it was okay. I might give it another try down the road to see if my perspective changes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    Fascinating!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Beckman

    Well written. Not a lot of focus on D.I.D.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    I enjoyed this book a lot more than expected, really great insight into an important part of recent history with an incredible personal story along with it. Would recommend!

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Smith

    I found this a fascinating book. I have been familiar with Judy 's political work for many years and particilarly with the leading role she played in the pro-choice movement... I'm also veey interested in mental health issues. Even after having read the book it's hard to imagine that Judy has been as effective in politics as she has been... despite living with dissociative identity disorder. The secret to understanding this is perhaps that as Judy recounts the multiple identities feveloped to pr I found this a fascinating book. I have been familiar with Judy 's political work for many years and particilarly with the leading role she played in the pro-choice movement... I'm also veey interested in mental health issues. Even after having read the book it's hard to imagine that Judy has been as effective in politics as she has been... despite living with dissociative identity disorder. The secret to understanding this is perhaps that as Judy recounts the multiple identities feveloped to protect her from memories of the trauma of sexual abuse by her father. Judy's account of this and her trcovery makes amazing reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Reading this was like reading a small part of my own history; those days of fighting anti-choicers helped form who I became; I'd forgotten some of the details and loved that she brought them back for me. Plus, normalizing the experience of developing personalities to survive childhood violence allowed me to breath a little deeper for all survivors. She is not crazy. She is an honest and brave woman. Reading this was like reading a small part of my own history; those days of fighting anti-choicers helped form who I became; I'd forgotten some of the details and loved that she brought them back for me. Plus, normalizing the experience of developing personalities to survive childhood violence allowed me to breath a little deeper for all survivors. She is not crazy. She is an honest and brave woman.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Snyder

    Such a good gook. Was a page turner for me since page 1. Honest look at how trauma and past events can affect us through our entire lives.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Brown

    Judy Rebick's Heroes in My Head: A Memoir is a gripping and frank personal story, with vivid scenes, memorable characters, and heart-breaking bravery. A public life, battling for better lives for women and for people who have been marginalized is contrasted with the private sorrow and the remarkable strategy her psyche devised to let her survive. Judy Rebick's Heroes in My Head: A Memoir is a gripping and frank personal story, with vivid scenes, memorable characters, and heart-breaking bravery. A public life, battling for better lives for women and for people who have been marginalized is contrasted with the private sorrow and the remarkable strategy her psyche devised to let her survive.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marlene Hayes

    Until recently, I had never heard of or read anything by Judy Redick. She is a Canadian feminist and activist and has worked for legalization of abortion and the need for the political safeguarding of women's rights. the heroes in her head are the personalities created to safeguard her forgotten secret of childhood sexual abuse. Until recently, I had never heard of or read anything by Judy Redick. She is a Canadian feminist and activist and has worked for legalization of abortion and the need for the political safeguarding of women's rights. the heroes in her head are the personalities created to safeguard her forgotten secret of childhood sexual abuse.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Law

    This is a fantastic and important book. Raw, revealing, honest, complicated - super well written. I also found it so insightful to read about the backdrop history/context of feminism, Marxism and social movements in Canada at the time - and to watch the struggles both personal and social played out so vividly. Bravely written and shared for all of us to learn from.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    A brave and compelling book that chronicles Judy’s life and her experiences with multiple personality disorder. Great insight into Judy’s life as one of the most prominent activists and feminists in Canada.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mari LivTollefsonCarlson

    In this memoir this prominent Canadian feminist and founder of rabble.ca, coming to terms with childhood abuse makes her a better activist. Key events trigger buried memories from Rebick’s early childhood. Brooklyn natives, the family moves to Canada in 1955, when she is 10. She attends McGill University, which her father says “ruined her” (53). She lives up the 60s culture, writing for the school newspaper, losing her virginity, smoking cigarettes and dope, and joining the anti-war movement. Af In this memoir this prominent Canadian feminist and founder of rabble.ca, coming to terms with childhood abuse makes her a better activist. Key events trigger buried memories from Rebick’s early childhood. Brooklyn natives, the family moves to Canada in 1955, when she is 10. She attends McGill University, which her father says “ruined her” (53). She lives up the 60s culture, writing for the school newspaper, losing her virginity, smoking cigarettes and dope, and joining the anti-war movement. After a post-college relationship turns violent, some of which she forgets, she moves back to Toronto, then New York, then travels to Europe and the Middle East. She comes home early due to a serious illness, vowing that if recovers, she’ll give herself to changing the world (105). She becomes a Trotskyite, working a union plane factory job until health problems prevent her from continuing. By the mid-80s, she does as much unpaid activist work as paid writing work. Her unrelenting pace and fearless confrontation of many challenges finally catch up with her. With a therapist, she begins to understand memories from which she’s disassociated, that pop back into her mind. After “the garden shears attack” (4) incident, in which she protects the abortion clinic founder, Dr Morgenthaler, from a protester, and her encounter with a blind patient at the clinic who is abused because of her abortion, images emerge of herself at five, with her father.... “Alters” also emerge, eleven distinct personalities in all. This inner work coincides with her increasing responsibility on behalf of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). The two go hand in hand. “Being able to see multiple perspectives on my own life allowed me to better understand my opponents,” she says (140). Uncovering abuse and the alters who help her survive it, she recognizes the source of both her pain and passion. The book concludes in gratitude for all involved in her healing process, as well as a glossary and an index. Candid and rich in history, Rebick offers timely insight into the personal become political.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JC

    I admittedly came to this book for the Trotskyist history, of which there was some, but that was certainly not the focus of this book. Yet it was a very fascinating look at dissociative identity disorder, which I first encountered through a terrible evangelical novel, which I loved at the time I read it (it’s name will remain unmentioned). I was particularly drawn to this mental phenomenon while reading and watching Atwood’s Alias Grace (my favourite Atwood novel I’ve read so far) and a skimming I admittedly came to this book for the Trotskyist history, of which there was some, but that was certainly not the focus of this book. Yet it was a very fascinating look at dissociative identity disorder, which I first encountered through a terrible evangelical novel, which I loved at the time I read it (it’s name will remain unmentioned). I was particularly drawn to this mental phenomenon while reading and watching Atwood’s Alias Grace (my favourite Atwood novel I’ve read so far) and a skimming through Ian Hacking’s Rewriting the Soul. Rebick’s story is very strange, mostly because the human brain is very strange and does very strange things. It was a very gripping story of trying to work through repressed memories of sexual abuse as a child, dealing with dissociation episodes and various identities whirring around her head, keeping up with work advocating for the deaf community, engaging in feminist and reproductive rights issues, and revolutionary Marxist politics. Admittedly, I found Rebick’s bohemian lifestyle overwhelming, and I got the impression that many in her circle of radical politics shared similar life experiences. Is there like a correlation between Trotskyism and polyamory or something? I know Lenin was very conventionally monogamous as a person, but I do get the sense Trotsky liked to get around. I mean I only know about the Frida Kahlo stuff but that seems telling already. Is that a thing? Anyone know? Anyway, the inside view of Canadian Trotskyist politics was fascinating, including the various mergers and splits between various factions, and arguments that unfolded regarding the limits of tolerating tendencies and arguments over Marxist doctrine. Rebick was also in a romantic relationship with a Maoist who later joined her in her Trotskyist political circles, and navigating those diverging political tendencies was interesting also. And of course the political struggles around reproductive rights was really fascinating, and it’s remarkable how much Rebick was able to accomplish with so much else going on in her life: complex romantic relationships, abuse, mental health struggles, and so on. A fascinating reflection on life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    The news is always on at dinner time in my parents' house, I grew-up that way. I suppose it's one of the reasons I developed an interest in politics. One result of this is that I have very clear memories of Judy Rebick flooding into our kitchen from the late '80s through the mid-'90s. At the time, I recall disliking her, perhaps even intensely. I thought she was negative and very angry. It turns out, I was correct. During the period she was working on abortion advocacy, Judy began to have flashba The news is always on at dinner time in my parents' house, I grew-up that way. I suppose it's one of the reasons I developed an interest in politics. One result of this is that I have very clear memories of Judy Rebick flooding into our kitchen from the late '80s through the mid-'90s. At the time, I recall disliking her, perhaps even intensely. I thought she was negative and very angry. It turns out, I was correct. During the period she was working on abortion advocacy, Judy began to have flashbacks to a traumatic event that sent her to seek counselling. With the help of a psychologist, Judy was able to uncover the truth of her childhood. She was sexually abused by her father. The result was dissociation resulting in multiple (many) personalities. The personalities had been hidden to Judy until the flashbacks. Most of us have heard about this sort of thing in passing or encountered it in a fictional plot in movie, but to read about what it was like in the flesh is another story. "Heroes in My Head" is in Judy Rebick's unique and authentic voice. I had a hard time putting it down. The period Judy worked through these issues with a psychologist was a time when Canadians set-up the legal framework for sexual consent and abortion; and went through many painful iterations of constitutional negotiations. In her work with various organizations, but most memorably NAC, Judy was at the forefront of the of all of these battles. As an adult I really appreciated being able to read about those events from a person who ran the campaigns. Judy has a lot to say about the impact of her personalities, one that I think is pretty interesting, but that's for you to read. Despite the fact that this came out a few years ago, I'm going to say it might be the best book I've read this year. If you're interested in women's issues or Canadian politics you should read "Heroes in My Head".

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cymric

    This is a fascinating memoire that offers an insider view on Canadian political history in the 1950s through to the 1990s, and on another level, it allows us to share in the very personal story of how the author coped with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse by developing multiple personalities, and how as an adult she managed to come to terms with her past, her family and her "alters". In the terms of the serenity prayer, she learned discernment, and was ultimately able to accept the things th This is a fascinating memoire that offers an insider view on Canadian political history in the 1950s through to the 1990s, and on another level, it allows us to share in the very personal story of how the author coped with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse by developing multiple personalities, and how as an adult she managed to come to terms with her past, her family and her "alters". In the terms of the serenity prayer, she learned discernment, and was ultimately able to accept the things that she could not change (her family and the past), and to change the things that she could (Rebick made headlines as a leader who championed diverse causes that included the right to choose for women, Québec independence, racial diversity and inclusivity, and freedom for Gaza, to name a few), and as we follow her path to wholeness we too learn these lessons. One of the most intriguing takeaways from this memoire is the observation that what we call "mental illness" can be a coping mechanism and even a strength, for without a doubt Rebick would not have accomplished all that she did achieve without the help of her alters and her ability to dissociate. Nonetheless we can observe that this is someone with a tremendous strength of spirit, with empathy and with deep sensitivity and joie de vivre who, rather than being cowed by the experiences of her youth, harnessed her strength and compassion to help others.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane B

    It was a surprising revelation to learn that one of the most fierce and outspoken Canadian feminists of the 90's underwent therapy to help integrate 11 multiple personalities during the same period of time she was the president of the National Action Committee on the status of women. Rebick was just as frank speaking on the page as she was on the stage of the Heliconian where she shared her story. Just within the last few weeks, she has seen film taken while her alters inhabited her and spoke wi It was a surprising revelation to learn that one of the most fierce and outspoken Canadian feminists of the 90's underwent therapy to help integrate 11 multiple personalities during the same period of time she was the president of the National Action Committee on the status of women. Rebick was just as frank speaking on the page as she was on the stage of the Heliconian where she shared her story. Just within the last few weeks, she has seen film taken while her alters inhabited her and spoke with her therapist. How uncanny that must have been - I hope she writes an update for a second edition and that it gets released to more fanfare. In this memoir Rebick reveals she suffered sexual abuse from her father that began when she was 5 and lasted throughout her childhood. Her coping mechanism was to dissociate and suppress the memories, with the help of heroes she created in her head. The memories and personalities began to emerge in midlife, long after she had successfully established herself as a strong advocate for the rights of the deaf, indigenous, poor and marginalized members of society. Her fighting spirit was put to good use and making a positive difference in so many lives. What an incredible story! You should read it. It could make you see the world a bit differently, and the mentally ill with more compassion and respect.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I feel really mixed on how to rate this book. The writing was decent and I found the parts specific to her alters and her struggle to come to terms with who she truly was fascinating and courageous. But it does feel at times like the author is force feeding her political agenda to the reader. She does warn us in the book - as she describes herself - that she is very black and white. But woah. No gray at times in here. Although it is interesting to read the perspective of a “radical” and have ins I feel really mixed on how to rate this book. The writing was decent and I found the parts specific to her alters and her struggle to come to terms with who she truly was fascinating and courageous. But it does feel at times like the author is force feeding her political agenda to the reader. She does warn us in the book - as she describes herself - that she is very black and white. But woah. No gray at times in here. Although it is interesting to read the perspective of a “radical” and have insight into their process and approach. I even lean to forgiveness a bit on this - it is her memoir. If I had the open platform I might take full advantage too.... And whether or not I agree with her politics or approach she is an accomplished female leader - who did so in the face of monumental challenges. Overall a worthwhile read. My favourite excerpt is from the epilogue. And sums up my feelings as well on mental illness and social stigma: “I think we all have a beautiful brain, but sometimes trauma provokes extraordinary creativity as well as extraordinary destruction. Understanding that helps me understand how much creativity and energy is lost to the world because we marginalize people labelled “mentally ill”. Beautifully said.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark Grieveson

    Thoroughly captivating, engaging and brave. Ms Rebick describes her life, in the US and then Canada, from her childhood to the present. The struggles and challenges she faces and overcomes, both professionally and personally, are very gripping. Her accomplishments for social justice, in the face of a society that is often indifferent and sometimes even hostile, are compelling to read. Also, the description of the ethos of the time period, during the 1960s to the 1980s, is quite illuminating, esp Thoroughly captivating, engaging and brave. Ms Rebick describes her life, in the US and then Canada, from her childhood to the present. The struggles and challenges she faces and overcomes, both professionally and personally, are very gripping. Her accomplishments for social justice, in the face of a society that is often indifferent and sometimes even hostile, are compelling to read. Also, the description of the ethos of the time period, during the 1960s to the 1980s, is quite illuminating, especially for those who lived through these times. Highly recommended.

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