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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Revolution of Love ~ Patch Adams

Medical doctor; Clown; Performer; Social Activist; Founder and Director of the Gesundheit Institute, a holistic medical community that has provided free medical care to thousands of patients since it began in 1971; Author of Gesundheit! & House Calls; Moving Speaker.

"Extraordinary! One man I can look up to and respect," "Incredibly mind blowing and memorable," and "Incredibly inspiring, amazing human being, invaluable to hear him first hand" are among the words heard from participants after experiencing Patch Adams, the real person behind the hit movie Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams.

Patch is both a medical doctor and a clown, but he is also a social activist who has devoted 30 years to changing America's health care system, a system which he describes as expensive and elitist.

He believes that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process and therefore true health care must incorporate such life. Doctors and patients in his model relate to each other on the basis of mutual trust, and patients receive plenty of time from their doctors. Allopathic doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine will work side by side. If you think that all sounds like a utopian impossibility, it isn't. Patch and his colleagues practiced medicine at the Gesundheit Institute together in West Virgina that way for 12 years in what he calls their pilot project. They saw 15,000 patients. Patch Adams has devoted his life to the study of what makes people happy.

Through the success of this program at the Arlington, Virginia location, a model health care facility is being planned on 310 acres purchased in Pocahontas County, WV. The Institute will include a 40-bed hospital, a theater, arts and crafts shops, horticulture and vocational therapy. Over five years ago, Dr. Adams and staff temporarily stopped seeing patients so that they could coordinate plans for raising $5 Million needed for the Institute's permanent and expanded home, a model health care community. Currently planned is an immediate phase of this dream, a $400,000 WV facility so that their medical service to patients can resume within the next two years.

The Institute addresses, by action, four major issues in health care delivery: the rising cost of care, dehumanization of medicine, malpractice suits, and abuses of third-party insurance system.

Dr. Adams adds to his training as a physician, his experience as a street clown. In working with health and mental health professionals, he explores the relationship between humor and therapy using his unique blend of knowledge, showmanship and hands on teaching techniques. Says Dr. Adams, I interpret my experience in life as being happy. I want, as a doctor, to say it does matter to your health to be happy. It may be the most important health factor in your life.

Patch Adams, M.D., is a nationally known speaker on wellness, laughter, and humor as well as on health care and health care systems. He approaches the issues of personal, community, and global health with zestful exuberance, according to Time Magazine. Dr. Adams believes that the most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.

Education of Compassion
March 2011

In 40 years of medicine, I have not been to or heard of a medical school anywhere that teaches compassion. I’ve spoken at medical schools in 68 countries and keep in correspondence with medical students in 1000 countries and there is a hunger for an education in compassion. Many have wondered if it can be taught? How it can be taught? Can it be measured? What are the common imagined attributes of compassion? Each culture finds their own words and descriptions for what it (compassion) is. I was told in Peru compassion has a pity part, so they use other words.

For thirty years I have encouraged, challenged, entreated medical schools to teach compassion, that we would help. None had accepted, until last year, in Lima, Peru, a medical school said, “we’ll try.” We set in motion a plan, not to create a “course in compassion,” but to study compassion for a year collectively with all the students (who wanted to.) I made a lot of suggestions for personal study and work/play groups. Why not take a real thoughtful look at compassion over the course of medical training? There are an infinite number of people to engage with. Talk loving yourselves. At the end of a year get together and explore what we all found out about compassion. And after lots of efforts, to create a syllabus and self discovery course for medical students, to explore throughout their years of medical education.

In August of 2008 John Glick MD, Carl Hammerschlag MD, and I lectured at the school. There was lots of student and professor interest – it was exciting and it made us take a deep look at teaching compassion. We each wrote papers for the website.

Alas, Peru didn’t work out. It became apparent that there was no one at the school to spear head the course and none of us could go live there. And this last year of planning left a very nice taste for the exploration of the teaching of compassion. Last year we initiated a similar exploration at three cities in Italy, in Italian, “Educare” (The Education of Care.) We were looking at the education of care in primary and secondary schools. With three amazing Italian friends, Laura, Cristina, and Ginevra.

So now we regroup for other ways to explore the teaching of compassion, and we want to launch it at the American Medical Student Association Annual National Meeting on March 10th, 20111. Susan and I will keynote together there. She will present Gesundheit and I will invite students to join an exploration into compassion.

I suggest a two year study. I recommend that one student find 3 other students, ideally in their class, to form a study group, hugging group, theatre group, etc. If other groups formed at our school you could cross fertilize. Try meeting 1 day a week to explore each other and report findings. Four of there groups could meet one a month for a pot luck, slumber party, other?
What is compassion? Explore Everything!

There are only a few suggestions. You can make up you own. The core of my compassion, my love of people, comes from my mother. She gave me kinds of love that helped me discover loving people. Her compassion was sweet actions directed at others for the love of people, the delight of caring for others.

Here are things you could do over these next 2 years:

1. Keep a journal about you in relationship with love and compassion. What is it? Ask everyday – How are you giving it? (Pay close attention. Be present.) How are you receiving it? (From everything, from strangers, from trees, etc.)


2. Do things outrageous for love, like clowning.

3. Actually see if you can produce the vibration of compassion for prolonged periods. What sustains it? (friends, having meaning, fun) What hurts it? (arrogance, apathy, tight underwear.) Are there times you do not want to be compassionate?

4. Be observant of compassion in action around you, everywhere, give details of its languages.

5. Become aware of compassionate projects around the world and plan on a least one elective at a project. Post these projects on this website and ideally how to contact them.

6. Explore the language of love and compassion. Read psychologists and poets, write essays on things you love. Add books you love to our book list.

7. How do you recognize love/compassion? Are there measurements?

8. Do we invite professors in on our exploration? Who?

9. How do you change performances of compassion in different situations?

10. At the small weekly meetings, find easy ways to present your findings to the group. Mention difficulties and ways they were overcome. Search for common languages to speak of these things. Keep notes. Bring questions for the group and preceptor. Find a preceptor from the staff at the medical school or hospital. Find someone who is really interested in the project maybe even will explore it their self. Relax in the first 6 months on judgments. Collect data, experiences and develop a passion for the project. Once a month, have 4 groups of 4 to get together for a potluck – to have fun, be affectionate, and explore intergroup similar and different findings. It would be great to go clowning once or more times a week both to institutions like hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes and prisons; as well as streets, parks, shopping malls, buses, etc/ As you gain experience, try adding clowning (playfulness and engagement) to your personality. How do you find a preceptor? Think of who you know at school or hospital to suggest ones.

11. Encourage staff (doctors, nurses, friends, family) to ask for a compassion consult. Sign up for one.

12. Have hug patrols and a room in the hospital – the Affection Room, designed as a place to go either as a giver or receiver – operated by volunteers (grandparents and high school students, for example.)

13. Explore how you relate to other people on issues of class consciousness, race, age, sexual preference. Pay close attention. Decide to connect with people you don’t normally hand out with.

14. Explore this question: Should a medical student be evaluated for compassion and not graduate if they are no compassionate? How is it evaluated? By who? (patients, classmates, families of patients, staff?)

15. Should there is a way for a student to give feedback – for example: to a rude or uncaring staff?

Tools That Help Me Be Compassionate

• Be a Twinkle in the eyes, smile on the face and an excitement to meet.
• Engaging eye contact
• Be fun and tender everywhere
• Turn off TV
• Develop all your interests
• Have A tender love for people
• Engage with the arts and nature
• Do volunteer work
• Practice organizing and following through
• Offer Massage

Reading List

Books By Our Team:

Patch Adams, MD, Gesundheit ~ House Calls

Carl Hammerschlag, MD 


Patch Adams M.D. & The Gesundheit! Institute


Roda Viva - Patch Adams - Parte 1 of 8
Must watch this Brazilian TV show interview ~ guest Patch Adams... it's the Best!!!
(The show interview starts w/Patch into the video @ 4:50 minutes)

Complete Auto Playlist: 

Patch Adams - End of Capitalism - Revolution of Love

Patch Adams, M.D. - Transform 2010 - Mayo Clinic

Patch Adams of the Gesundheit Institute talks about moving away from Market Capitalism to a sense of Community Compassion. I want a world where no one alive can remember what the word war means. There is no hope for human survival if we don’t change to a loving world.

Love Revolution
School for Designing a Society – Teaching people to be revolutionaries for loving change to move away from a world of Market Capitalism to a world of compassion and generosity. We need Grandmother Revolution.
Gesundheit Institute
(Gesundheit means Good Health!)



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