Up Funny Bones
by Celia Sue Hecht
To millions, the name Dr. Patch Adams conjures up images
of Robin Williams in a plaid shirt, baggy pants and big
red clown nose, bringing fun and laughter to his
patients. But when the real Patch Adams stands up, you'll
see he's not much different in real life. The tooting
horn, the red nose, the frenetic energy - it's all a part
of the outward persona of Patch Adams. But inwardly,
Patch is hoping the movie portrayed the inner message -
what he calls the healing energy of living funny.
What does Patch think of the movie based on his life?
"The world needs a lot more love, laughter and happiness
in order for joy to become our paradigm. We get a lot of
messages from Hollywood. I'm glad this was a very
positive message that a lot of people could relate to and
be inspired by," Patch says. "We need many more messages
of compassion, generosity and fun. The popularity of the
movie shows us that."
Patch grew up an army brat, living in places for a year
or so at a time - Germany, Japan and throughout the
United States - depending upon where his dad was
commissioned. Patch's father died when he was 16, leaving
the young man in emotional turmoil. He checked himself
into a mental hospital, thus beginning a turning point
which allowed him to see that it wasn't he who was crazy,
but yet, it was his soul that was in pain. He realized
during this spiritual awakening the healing power of
humor, friendship and love.
Some say "Joy to the world," is Patch's simple mission.
Others think he's a controversial character with charisma
not unlike the Music Man. Patch explains, "I realized
that the most revolutionary act that anyone can commit is
to be happy. It takes no greater effort to be happy every
day than to be miserable."
Patch's brand of silly humor is his mainstay labor of
love. "Humor has a powerful medicinal effect on disease.
People need to and are hungry to laugh more. Research has
shown that laughter increases the secretion of natural
chemicals that make people feel good," Patch enthuses.
"Laughter seems to have a positive effect on many
cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Psychologically,
humor helps one develop good mental health. It is an
excellent antidote to stress. Besides, being funny is
powerful magnet for friendship."
According to Patch, friendships are also essential for
good health. When we relate to one another, we are less
likely to become lonely or isolated. Having support while
we face stress helps ease our suffering. The clown doctor
defines health as "happy, vibrant, maximum well-being.
Friendship is the best medicine. Laughter and love are
the context in which friendships happen. We dissipate
pain through laughing. In a healthy world, humor is a way
of life. People are funny as a rule not an exception.
Everyone is funny to someone else. Open up to the
comedian inside. Nuts of the world unite."
Patch's advocacy of ho-ho-listic medicine almost got him
kicked out of medical school for being "excessively
happy." He persevered, and went on to treat patients free
of charge in a hospital with friends for several years
until resources dissipated and he had to reconsider his
"I have a dream to build the first fully
interdisciplinary hospital in the world in a rural
community in order to promote the love of all people.
Everyone's opinion is valid and all disciplines are
accepted," Patch insists. "Our target in 1971 was that
the Gesundheit! Institute would be completed by 1975. It
has now taken us 28 years, but we are much more prepared
for what we will build. We are exploring how humans can
live harmoniously with one another and sustain life on
"We will not charge patients for medical services. We will
not do third party reimbursements and we won't carry
malpractice insurance," he posits. Some wonder how the
hospital will sustain itself and if Patch's dream is too
good to be true. Donations of services, equipment and
funds are all necessary to build the West Virginia
"I love to see people spending their lives in a joyful
celebration of service, not out of sacrifice and pity."
Patch says, "I don't define people by their diseases.
Medicine should be about the relationship between healer
and patient. The doctor-patient relationship should never
be a financial transaction. We want to develop a
community of friends and family who trust one another.
Mutual respect, honesty and friendship could pave the way
for new innovations and reforms."
"Physicians should be able to cry with patients and hug
them and receive the same care in return," Patch
continues. "Studies have shown that the presence of a
doctor can have a positive impact on a patient's health.
When there's a deep friendship, the effect is most
profound. Love is the most powerful medicine of all and
it involves giving and receiving."
Patch says that the basic nature of a joy paradigm, in an
optimistic society, everything just is what it is, "Why
do we have this Oscar or gold medal way of looking at
things? The most, the greatest, there are 10 billion
greatest which one do you choose? Why do we label
everything therapy? Do you have to have a degree in
go-for-a-walk therapy, take-a-deep-breath therapy, I'm
going-around-the-block therapy? We could have chair
therapy, sock therapy, there are
infinite possibilities of therapies."
His prescription for overcoming disease is there are no
easy pat answers, no one magic bullet, and no simple
solutions. "I don't have a cookbook for any disease," he
says. "No two people with a disease are the same. There
could be 100 different factors causing symptoms.
Ultimately, each person decides what's best for
themselves. Everyone on this planet is responsible for
their own healing and enjoyment," Patch concludes.
In the world according to Patch where love and friendship
are what we need to be healthy, healing through humor
certainly does prevail.
© Copyright Sue
Hecht. Originally published in Solimar Magazine,
Summer 1999. All Rights Reserved.
Celia Sue Hecht is a published writer, editor, PR
specialist, and metaphysician who has published
hundreds of articles in newsletters, newspapers, and
magazines, as well as obtained media coverage in all
venues (radio, TV, in print) for authors, business
professionals, doctors, health care professionals and
healers. She also does psychic medium readings
connecting people with those who have passed over, and
gives talks, classes, and workshops on a variety of
topics including Getting Publishing, Freedom from
Fibromyalgia, and Giving Birth To Soul. For more info,
please visit her website at www.suepr.freeyellow.com/welcome.html,
or call 831-755-5791 or 702-225-8206.