"Patch" Adams (born May 28, 1945 in Washington,
District of Columbia) founded the Gesundheit! Institute
life was the template for the plot of the movie Patch
Adams with Robin Williams as the leading actor. Adams
is currently based in Arlington, Virginia, where he
promotes alternative health care in collaboration
with the institute.
Adams, a military brat, is also a social activist,
citizen diplomat, professional clown, performer, and
author. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers
from around the world to travel to Russia as clowns,
to bring hope and joy to orphans, patients, and the
people. In 1998 he also visited Bosnia, one of the
Balkan Peninsula countries torn apart by the war that
started after breakdown of Yugoslavia.
After attending Wakefield High School in 1963, Patch
Adams was graduated to Doctor of Medicine from the
Medical College of Virginia, Health Sciences Division
of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1971, convinced
of the powerful connection between environment and
wellness. He holds the belief that the health of an
individual cannot be separated from the health of
the family, community, and the world. In consequence,
Patch and some friends founded the Gesundheit! Institute,
which ran as a free community hospital for 12 years.
A revamped Gesundheit! Institute, envisioned as a
free, full-scale hospital and health care eco-community,
is planned in West Virginia. Its goal is to integrate
a traditional hospital with alternative medicine--acupuncture,
homeopathy, etc. Care will integrate medicine with
performing arts, crafts, nature, agriculture, and
recreation. The current location accepts volunteers
through the website for the summer months. No hospital
is yet in existence, although some outreach is done
(at a local women's prison and a small hospital).
Several videos and books have been produced, both
of which are found on the website.
the 1990s Adams has supported  the Ithaca Health
Alliance (IHA), originally founded as the Ithaca Health
Fund (IHF) by Paul Glover. In January 2006 IHA launched
the Ithaca Free Clinic, bringing to life key aspects
of Adams' vision. Patch Adams has also given strong
praise to Health Democracy, a book written/published
that same year by Glover).
Patch offers to examine the head of the U.S. President
Along with his medical advocacy, Adams has been known
for his political activism.
the causes championed by Adams, since 1992, is that
of MindFreedom International, which unites 100 advocacy
groups united in efforts to win campaigns for human
rights of people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities.
Adams has taken a leading role on behalf of the coalition
in its campaign to thwart President George W. Bush's
New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
of the main goals of the President's New Freedom Commission
is to ensure 'Early mental health screening, assessment,
and referral to services are common practice,' said
its director, David Oaks, adding, 'President Bush
wants to test all Americans for "mental illness".'
Adams has responded by volunteering to screen President
Bush, 'He needs a lot of help. I'll see him for free.'"
Patch Adams controversial statements on depression
At a speech at Vanderbildt University, Patch Adams
said depression was "a selfish act" and
"You cannot be depressed and hold someone you
love in your mind at the same time it is impossible."
comments were criticised by Scott Rodgers M.D., assistant
dean of students who said "I was shocked and
dismayed to hear a famous and influential physician
speak in this way about mental illness. While I am
the first to admit that we all need love in our lives,
I can tell you that I have seen many patients with
plenty of love and support who nevertheless succumb
to such illnesses as depression. For these patients,
and for others without love and support, medications
may represent a lifesaving alternative and should
not be avoided."
Body and Spirit