What is Normal Anyway?

We hear much about the need to change the perceptions society holds about disabled people, but less about the perceptions disabled people... Read more

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Why are you pretending to be normal? Book Cover

Why are you pretending to be normal?

By Dr Phil Friend OBE and Dave Rees


  • Do you want to manage your disability positively?
  • Are you feeling frustrated that people don't understand your needs?
  • If you have a disability or know someone who does then you should read this book.


Why are you pretending to be normal? asks the questions that anyone with a disability needs to ask themselves.


This engaging story offers viewpoints and ideas that have already inspired many disabled people to stop simply coping with their disability and start managing it. This has enabled them to lead more productive and satisfying lives.


Phil Friend and Dave Rees present practical tools and techniques which have helped many disabled people successfully deal with the most challenging aspects of living with a disability.


Order your copy now - information on how to do so is at the right. Scroll down to read feedback and reviews.

About the authors


Buy a paperback copy using PayPay below or the Kindle version from Amazon.


The Paypal price is £7.50 and includes postage and packaging for a single book.If you would like to purchase more than one copy, or pay by an alternative method (i.e. cheque) please contact us.



The audiobook can be purchased for download from Amazon Audible and iTunes. The audiobook includes a song written by Steve Hillman with lyrics by Dave Rees and Phil Friend called Tunnel Vision.


Phil Friend


Phil was born in London and contracted polio in 1949.


As a wheelchair user he worked in social work until the late 1980’s but since setting up his business he has focussed on disability in the workplace. He has been engaged by some of the UK’s major corporations and public sector organisations and has had a significant influence on how organisations manage disability in the workplace.


He is married to Sue, lives in Hertfordshire and has four children and four grandchildren.




Dave Rees


Dave has spent 20 years training and developing people in enhancing their communication and influencing skills in the workplace. He is a Chartered Manager with the Chartered Management Institute and supports managers to understand what impact they have and how they can improve their effectiveness in leadership skills.


Along with Phil he designed and has delivered the Personal and Career Development Programmes for Disabled Staff since 2001.


He was born in Shropshire, is married to Carole, has a daughter and lives in South Wales.

What people are saying...

Phil Friend
Dave Rees
The Right Honourable David Blunkett, MP

The Right Honourable David Blunkett, MP

"I think the book will be extremely valuable in stimulating discussion not solely by people with disabilities and their families but the wider community. "

Julie Fernandez

Julie Fernandez

Actress, Producer and Disability Rights Campaigner

"This book should be read by any professional that works either directly or on the fringes with disabled people from, doctors, nurses, social workers, benefits advisors etc.


In fact it should be read by everyone including children in school as it offers great insight into the lives of disabled people and how we wish to be treated."




Kay Allen OBE

Kate Nash OBE

"There is nothing like this book on the market. It is a delight to read and takes you on a journey in understanding the true experience of disability. This stuff is hard to learn. The story helps the reader to reframe an experience that is lived out out every single day by thousands of disabled people and one that is hard to talk about with loved ones.


The book is funny, real and logical. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to make sense of disability and particularly the leaders of workplace disability networks that are growing like topsy in the UK. This book provides a great tool for us to pass on to others struggling to make sense of disability, health condition, accident or illness at work. I am looking forward to their next book already!"



Susan Scott Parker

Susan Scott Parker OBE, CEO Business Disability Forum

"This book is bursting with great ideas based on a unique wealth of personal experience of both the reality of disability and the reality of work - employers wanting to realise the potential of every employee should ensure copies are readily and widely available."

Sir Bert Massie CBE

Sir Bert Massie CBE

"Normality is that boring space between everything that is exciting and exceptional but some disabled people think it is the safe space they should occupy. This book shows disabled people need to be themselves and not follow the yellow brick road to “Normality”. Through a number of conversations with disabled people Chris, who has a recently acquired impairment, is challenged on why he tries to appear normal. Just as Tressell’s “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist” explained socialism clearer than Karl Marx ever achieved, this book explains the social and medical models of disability through every-day conversations that turn complex ideas on impairment and disability into common sense that we can all understand. Well worth reading! "


Caroline Waters OBE

Caroline Waters OBE

"...[A] must read for anyone who cares about how we interact as human beings and how our society develops. It offers a clear and compelling blueprint for how we should live life."


"This book will leave you thinking about how you feel, what you can do and what you have a right to expect from your life and the people who are a part of it. It's honesty and integrity will inspire you - read it. This book has the capacity to change how you see the world; so what are you waiting for?"

Alice Maynard

Alice Maynard

Director of Future Inclusion

"Whether you acquire an impairment during your lifetime or grow up with one, it is all too easy to absorb the norms and attitudes of the culture around you and become disabled by them. That makes it all the harder to deal with the other barriers that disable. I was privileged to have a sister, and disabled friends, who taught me different! For those many disabled people who are not so privileged and who have to deal with the internalised oppression this creates by themselves, this book cuts through those norms and attitudes in a refreshing and simple way. I hope that it will start many people on the journey to an empowered life where they no longer see themselves as 'the problem', but understand where the real problems lie so they can deal with them. "

Kay Allen OBE

Roger Berry Trustee Disability Rights (UK)

As Chris, the narrator in this book, points out: “The absolute fact is that most of us are born without impairments but the majority of us will acquire one before we depart this life.” There are many reasons why disability – and the discrimination associated with it – should be a mainstream issue, and this is clearly one of them.


Yet, you only have to read, view or listen to much of the popular media to realise how badly informed so many people are about disability issues. Too many commentators and politicians simply don’t get it.

They – and many others - would benefit enormously from reading this wonderful book, by Phil Friend and Dave Rees. It’s a must-read for those who are prepared to listen and learn.


Why are you pretending to be normal? takes us back to basics. In effect, it explains the social model of disability and its practical implications for both disabled and non-disabled people. It does this through a series of conversations between Chris, who has recently acquired an impairment and other disabled people, from whom he learns a lot.

There are revealing discussions of attitudes, physical barriers, additional needs, rights and the fact that being different is normal.

The most difficult kind of writing is that which is aimed at a very wide audience, but nevertheless has something significant to say to all its readers. This book is in that category. There is much here to enlighten those unfamiliar with the social model of disability. But there will be many who believe that they have a reasonable understanding of the argument who will still find that there is much to learn from this short book.


It is written for disabled and non-disabled people, because disability is, indeed, a mainstream issue. If I had control of the national curriculum, I would make this required reading. "

What Amazon readers have to say

Read it!

Three years ago I was lucky enough to attend a Personal Development Programme facilitated by Dave Rees & Phil Friend. Put simply it... Read more

Enjoyable, insightful and empowering

First and foremost, a thoroughly good read but more importantly this book takes you on a journey of discovery. You learn about yourself... Read more

A journey into disability

This is a book that explains disability to those who have acquired an impairment during a adult lives (most do) as well as to their non-... Read more

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