Patch Adams

American physician, activist, diplomat and author

Hunter Campbell "Patch" Adams (born 28 May 1945) is a medical doctor, social activist, citizen diplomat, professional clown, performer, and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1972.

The medical professionals are a lot more comfortable calling it "depression" than calling it "loneliness."
See also:
Patch Adams (film)


  • I'll give you an example — in Russia most of the hospitals don't have any pain medicine, they don't have any money. So if you're with kids with cancer, they can have metastases to the bone; which some say is the worst pain a human can experience. So a mother can be in a room with a child who hasn't stopped screaming in five months. ...85% of the time I walk in there as a clown they'll stop screaming.
    • As quoted in "Entrevista com o médico americano P. Adams" in Roda Viva - Entrevista (13 November 2007)
  • Any can do it — BE RADIANT! Make the decision. I want to be an agent of change to a loving world — so I will be radiant.
    • As quoted in "Patch Adams and clowns spreading laughter at hospital" (2 March 2016)
  • People are not their diseases....without touching on the quality of a person's life, their loves, concerns, and fears, we ignore a gigantic area of resource and disease.
  • If I plant the idea that you really are a responsible person, that your life and life around you is affected by you, even though you're only one person, life can become very exciting.
  • I've tacked up a great statement by Melville, which I don't know by heart, but it's the equivalent of, "If you haven't failed, you haven't tried."
  • The strongest thing I do is that I take people on clown trips....And I give them a bunch of clown clothes, and I take them places where people are suffering, and everyone becomes a player. And it's usually instantaneous....We've taken clowns into war, into refugee camps....We start with simple things: blowing up a balloon, blowing bubbles, having a puppet. But it isn't long before they see that the world of play is a gigantic universe...Because it isn't just about play; it's about opening up your life and your being and your ability to connect with connects you instantly with anyone in the world, without language.
  • I go to hospitals that have no medicine. You see pain relief in people who haven't had a second of pain relief in months. You see mothers laughing with their dying child. You see hospitals come alive, dancing in the hallways. Food fights! Life! How can anyone convince anybody that life occurred where there was not play?

House Calls: How we can all heal the world one visit at a time (1998)

  • I think that the loss of the house call has been the biggest blow to the art of medicine in this century. Not only has the patient lost this precious attention, but the physician has not found a replacement for the lost intimacy.
    • p. xi
  • Take a close look at the part that "love" plays in your life. Make an inventory of love: people, things, ideas, experiences. Try to live your gratitude.
    • p. 10
  • Imagination is an infinite resource that cannot be diminished by overuse or underuse.
    • p. 58
  • I have often found that mental patients who are given love, creativity, and community find the peace that they are reaching out for.
    • p. 121
  • Welcome to my library! Ever since my high school days, books and magazines have been to my mind what friends are in the flesh. Each and every one of these books and articles-- a fraction of the 12,000 volumes that I share my house with-- has contributed to expanding my dream.
    • p. 129

Quotes about Patch Adams

  • ...Patch created the Gesundheit Institute. They operated for twelve years out of their communal home. These were the Institute's policies: 1) No charge, 2) No health insurance reimbursement, 3) No malpractice insurance, 4) 3-to-4 hour initial interview with patient, 5) Home as hospital, 6) Integration of all the healing arts, 7) Integration of medicine with performance arts, arts and crafts, nature, agriculture, education, recreation, and social service; 8) The health of the staff is as important as the health of the patient. Patch, his group of friends, and their staff managed to keep the institute running for twelve years.
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