February 23, 2010
This past Saturday I had the privilege of hosting Patch Adams for the day between two university presentations he was giving that morning and evening. The meeting was a long time coming; Patch (“the clown who is a doctor”) and I have been communicating for a few years with the goal of him visiting the Institute and the All Stars Project, meeting my mentor and Institute co-founder Fred Newman, and spending some “quality” time together. Patch and the community he has buit around free health care, doctoring as caring for the whole person, and global clowning has much in common with the performance-based development community I have helped to build — in particular, the inseparability of the well-being of persons and community, and a radical commitment to taking risks for social change.
A highlight of the visit was Patch’s guest appearance in Newman’s weekly Developmental Philosophy Group where performing philosophy took on the added forms of clowning, singing and poetry reciting. If you aren’t familiar with Patch’s life and work, check out his Gesundheit Institute where you’ll find infromation on humanitarian clown trips to places all over the world, news on the Gesundheit Hospital Project, commentary of health care reform, and more.
Here’s a poem Patch shared with us, which was new to me:
Franz Wright, “Pediatric Suicide”
Being who you are is not a disorder.
Being unloved is not a psychiatric disorder.
I can’t find being born in the diagnostic manual.
I can’t find being born to a mother incapable of touching you.
I can’t find being born on the shock treatment table.
Being offered affection unqualified safety and respect when?and only when you score dope for your father is?not a diagnosis.
Putting your head down and crying your way through elementary?school is not a mental illness, on the contrary.
And seeing a psychiatrist for fifteen minutes per month
some subdoormat psychiatrist writing for just what you?need lots more drugs
to pay his mortgage Lexus lease and child’s future tuition?while pondering which wine to have for?dinner is not effective
treatment for friendless and permanent sadness.
Child your sick smile is the border of sleep.
Abandoned naked and thrown to the world is not a disease.
She was unhappy just as I was only not as lucky.
And two more photos…