Finding Laughter – Patch Adams Shows How Laughter is Good Medicine (day 12)

. at . 9 comments

Finding Laughter 31 Days of writingSuicidal (again), he checked himself into a mental institution as Hunter Adams and checked himself out as Patch Adams. The nickname “Patch” was the result of Hunter SEEING a person in need and doing something about it. He fixed (patched) a man’s coffee cup.

Patch also used humour to meaningfully connect with others at the institution. Both of these actions, compassionate care and humour, led Patch to turn his life around.

He vowed that in every single waking moment he would be an instrument for peace, justice, and care, He did so by concentrating on six qualities: happy, funny, loving, cooperative, creative, and thoughtful. Patch went on to medical school so that he could really listen to and help more people.

 “We know that love is the answer. So when does a person decide to stand up over greed and power?” (Patch)

Clowning around is a way of life for Dr. Adams. Every year Patch takes clowns ages 8-88 (and anyone can be a clown) into desperate places of extreme poverty, refugee camps and even into war.

“What began with bedside clowning in hospitals [1985] expanded to include missions to orphanages, schools, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and prisons. “

“The clown, we learned, could impact health and well-being of communities, as well as individuals and families.”

“The clown, in effect, IS medicine. We have witnessed countless instances where collaborative play in the hospital setting eases suffering, promotes healing, and caregivers to hidden reservoirs of compassion and joy, enhancing intimacy with their patients, so often shut down in healthcare settings.” (

As of 2006 when Patch shared this powerful message, he said he has clowned every day for 42 years. Patch will be going to Russia in November of 2015. Four more trips are planned (Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala) in 2016.


“When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” (by Mary Oliver from When Death Comes)

“There’s a duty to optimism,” (Walt Whitman)

“I dove into the ocean of gratitude and I never found the shore”, (Patch Adams).

Your Turn . . .

  1. Have you ever tried to use humour to help someone? Did it help?
  2. Has humour ever helped you?
  3. I am impressed with Dr. Adams and his quest to help humanity. Is there something you can do today to help humanity? 

 I gleaned the above information from three sources . . . 

  1. Gesundheit Institute: Patch Adams at TEDx Utrecht University (21 minutes 52 seconds) – one of my favourite TED Talks so far.
  2. Patch Adams: Live in Anaheim! The Emporer’s New Clothes – The real Patch Adams shares his philosophy. This is not an easy watch as he shows and talks about some gruesome things humanity has done to each other.

Related Resources. . .

NOTE: The one thing I noticed in learning about Dr. Hunter Patch Adams is a distinct lack of God involvement. I don’t know what Dr. Adams’ viewpoint on salvation is. But I do know that as terrible as life is for far too many, death without salvation is utterly and irredeemably tragic.

I am joining 100’s of others at #write31days to write every day in October 2015 on a single topic. My topic is 31 Days of Finding Laughter. I will spend time each day studying laughter to see if I can improve my laughter quotient.

Go here for the landing page which has all the posts in one spot.

Read, learn, and discover with me what this world of laughter is all about and is it all that it’s cracked up to be. And be sure to leave a comment. Talking together will make for a richer, interactive experience for all of us.

Entry filed under: 31 Days of Writing, Laughter, Main. Tags: , .

Finding Laughter: Children and Laughter Finding Laughter: Laughter Yoga (Day 13)

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tara  |  . at .

    Humor really is good medicine. Patch Adams is such a great movie. It saddens me though that Robin Williams was taken by his demons. I pray that we find light and laughter rather than darkness.


    • 2. susan2009  |  . at .

      Tara, I thought the same thing about Robin Williams as I watched that movie this week. He had such a gift in making others laugh and be happy. It is tragic he couldn’t help himself.

      I pray the same thing!


  • 3. Karen Sebastian  |  . at .

    What a great reminder to choose humor! Laughter is one of my favorite activities of all!


    • 4. susan2009  |  . at .

      Thanks for visiting, Karen. Until I started this series, I never thought of laughter as an activity. Now I do and want to make it one of my top 3 activities.


  • 5. Jodi  |  . at .

    I love the work that Patch Adams does. I use humour with my students (I teach for a school that caters for at risk youth and primarily work with a group struggling wth anxiety and depression). It definitely helps break down barriers and build relationships.


    • 6. susan2009  |  . at .

      Wow – thanks, Jodi for the work you do. I imagine that humor also helps keep your own spirits buoyed. Do you have any specific humor “tricks”?


    • 7. Jodi  |  . at .

      It certainly does. Our office is often filled with laughter to keep us all sane! Not sure I have tricks as such. For my group of students currently I find very gentle light hearted teasing of myself and them works well.


  • 8. Sarah  |  . at .

    Confession: I never saw the movie. And I’d never heard the story until today. So I’m glad you shared it! Whether Dr. Adams recognizes it or not, it seems God is living in — and working through — him. I love it.


    • 9. susan2009  |  . at .

      That is true, Sarah. Truth doesn’t have to be identified with God in order for it to be true and effective.


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