Patch Adams

Patch Adams

Hunter "Patch" Adams (born May 28, 1945 in Washington, District of Columbia) founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1972.

His 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.

Patch 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.

Early career
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.

Gesundheit! Institute
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.

Since the 1990s Adams has supported [1] 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.

Among 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.

"One 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."

His 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."



Mind, Body and Spirit