A guide to ‘disability liberation’

Review of Why are you pretending to be normal?

By Phil Friend and David Rees

I can think of no other book, film or guidebook that does what this does: it brilliantly allows the reader to examine, clarify and understand the process of what might be called ‘disability liberation’. Through the sometimes confused thought processes of one person challenged by an impairment, we follow “Chris” as he is very gently conducted through his own liberation struggle and we are taken through the labyrinth of cognitive and behavioural changes that he needs to make.

It is a guide through a profound journey which many people with disabilities will wish they could have had much earlier in their own lives. It is a journey full of resistance (“but you surely can’t expect me to think like that?) and counter-cultural insights (“disability sometimes forces us to go public about things we would rather keep private”) but, under the safe guidance of a mentor, it is successfully accomplished: “I [feel] incredibly upbeat and positive.”

It is a deceptively straightforward read but I found myself needing new insights when I went back to re-read on many occasions. I was reminded how much my own liberation journey back in the early 70s had stemmed from reading outsider, feminist and human rights literature. I devoured Lawrence, Hesse, Greer, Millett, Lessing, Marcuse, Friere and many others searching for a map and directions to break out of the straitjacket of my conditioning.

Phil Friend and Dave Rees have done a huge service for many people with impairments and their families and those who seek to support them: liberation journeys now have a travel guide! But, if this book can become known and acknowledged in opinion-forming circles, it could influence the very culture in which disabled people all too often struggle to get respect and acknowledgement – which makes their own liberation so vital because without it, they are liable to be powerless and unacknowledged.

So get the book, read it and spread it around widely!

“Why are you pretending to be normal?” available from www.philandfriends.co.uk/book or from Amazon – Paperback/Kindle versions http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-are-pretending-normal-ebook/dp/B00DPKDXYM  

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