The movie “Patch Adams” begins slowly, with Hunter Adams, a middle-aged man who one day decides to commit himself to a psychiatric institution for trying to commit suicide. He received recovery not through the doctor but rather through contact with his fellow patients in the psychiatric asylum. It is there that he is given the nickname “Patch” and discovers his desire to help people through laughter, understanding, and personal connection. From then on, Patch is a man with a mission to help other people.
Two years later, after leaving the institution, he enrolls into medical school and quickly makes friends with another student, Truman and shares his dream with him. Patch soon recruits the stiff, serious classmate Carin, whom he falls in love with. In school, Patch is a smart and gifted student who wants not so much to get the medical terminology and textbook knowledge but to get to the heart of healing: touching others, wanting to help the patients via humor.
Patch begins interacting with patients at the university hospital, even though students are not supposed to see patients until their third year of schooling.
Putting on a clown’s nose and other funny disguises, he brings fun and laughter into the children’s ward and surprises into the dull and boring routines of older patients. He even manages to reach a terminally ill cancer patient named Bill who is terrified of death. The head nurse believes in what he is doing and works along with him. Dean Walcott however, is not impressed; he is not even amused. He wants to force Patch to follow the rules, even if it means kicking him out of school.
His highly critical roommate Mitch, who is under enormous pressure to succeed, believes that Patch is a clown who has no business being in medical school among the “real” students. As the film progresses, Patch decides to continue his dream while Dean Walcott fights to have him thrown out of school. Carin, and Truman joins Patch in the establishment of a free clinic whom he calls Gesundheit, where they can practice the powerful medicine of alternative healing based on love, where in patient helps and treat one another.
As the movie continues, in a tragic turn of events, Patch was challenged by the death of Carin at the hands of a patient named Larry whom they were treating at their unauthorized clinic. It’s at this part of the movie, Patch is once again confronted with depression and a crisis which brings him to questioning whether what he is doing is worth doing and whether there is a God and whether God cares or not. In this scene Patch, emotionally devastated after the loss and blaming himself for the death of Carin decided to quit and goes to a cliff where he confronts God.
He talks to God, complaining that on the 7th day of Creation God rested, when He should have used that day for compassion. Then, Patch looks down off the cliff and say, “I could do it,” meaning suicide, “But You’re not worth it. ” he says to God. When Patch turns around and walks away from the cliff, a butterfly is sitting on his medical bag. As he looks at it, it flutters up to him, lands on his chest, then he takes it on his finger and it flies away. It is then that Patch realizes God answered him back and Patch regains the passion he once had before he lost Carin.
Patch gets through this episode, not by sheer will or determination, but with the help of his friends–his classmates who, influenced by his approach to life/medical practice, both support and challenge Patch to practice some of his own medicine. Patch decided he wants to continue his efforts and dreams, however, received a note from Dean Walcott throwing him out of school, which means, of course, he could not graduate in medical school. Examining his grades and status in the university, he found out there are no sufficient grounds against him that can expel from the university the only comment he saw was he has ‘excessive happiness’.
With this, he pleaded to the medical board to examine his case. He was however, accused of practicing medicine without a license in his free hospital. Everyone in the medical profession is against him. In the trial he explain his position, “You treat a disease,” he argues, “You win or lose. You treat a person, and you always win. ” He questioned the traditional practice of medicine and the impersonal, cold, and indifferent doctor-patient relationship in the medical profession.
In the end, Patch Adams was commended for his new ways and ideas in the practice of medicine, anyway, it is not harmful in the medical practice rather this has improved the quality of the lives of his patients. He was allowed to graduate and eventually continued his life-long dream of making an unconventional clinic “using humor to cure pain and suffering” – the Gesundheit! B. Critical Reflection “When you treat a disease, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I guarantee you, when you treat a person, what ever the outcome, you always win. ” –Hunter “Patch” Adams The Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? ” Jesus heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. ” (cf. Mt. 9:11-12) During his time, Jesus stirred the traditional beliefs and practice of his current society by touching a leper, healing people at Sabbath, eating with tax collectors, and going around in the company of sinners and prostitutes. Nevertheless, all of these examples show Jesus’ life aimed at providing personalized and compassionate care open to all.
The movie Patch Adams reminds me of the personalistic approach of Jesus towards the sinners. He condemns sins but loves the sinner; treating the patient as well as the disease. Quite notably for me are the similarities in the movie with the gospel narratives about Jesus. I would say that Patch could have had our compassionate Lord as his model. Jesus condemnation of the Pharisee institutionalism, rigid, and blind observance of the law over the spirit of the law is somehow the same with Patch’s rebellious attack on the complacency and arrogance of the medical profession of his time.
The conflict between Patch and Dean Walcott would also be somehow compared to the conflict experience between Jesus and the Pharisees. It was a victory won by faith, hope, and love over and against cynicism, caution, and aloof detachment. Patch Adam’s design of the therapeutic value of humor, characterized by a personalized approach to medicine leave us Christians feeling slapped in the face. We often condemn people because of what they did, forgetting that they are human being like us.
For me, this is the challenge of the movie for us Christians, to be more like Patch Adams or better yet to be more like Christ in our dealing with our fellow human beings. We knew well that Jesus would see the person rather than his present state, so too, we should look at the person rather than moralizing and condemning their sins and wrong doings. As what his friend in the mental asylum said to him in the movie, “see what everyone else chooses not to see,” we are challenge to do the same. To choose to see our fellow human being what everyone chooses not to see.
We should look beyond all the mistakes and imperfection; and help them to overcome such imperfection. We have to learn to treat the patient, and not just the condition. The call is to focus on the person who sinned and not on the sins one committed. In the movie, Dean Walcott mention: “Our job here is to ruthlessly drain the humanity out of you and make something better out of you… we’re going to make you doctors. ” This statement made Patch indignant, since for him a doctor is one who cares about the patients as people, rather as the “illness”.
To see patients not as mere objects but as human beings with feelings, hopes, dreams and aspiration. Patch’s quest is to return humanity into the cold and indifferent doctor-patient relationship. It was through Patch’s humanity, that the shy and sheltered Truman becomes inspired to do the unexpected. Patch’s contagious enthusiasm eventually melts away Carin’s icy cold facade, and she ends up becoming inspired by the kindness and sincerity of his actions. Such humane attitudes and actions are very Christian and should pervade in all of us.
What makes us to think and reflect about this movie is that we are not only “patients” but also we can be “doctors” to/for others. For we know that, each one of us, one way or the other is sick, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, economically, or spiritually. However, we can be “doctor” for each other, by just giving a smile to a exhausted jeepneys driver, giving alms to the poor, teaching small children how to pray, listening to a friend who has a problem etc. This are our own little way of giving comfort and treating the “illnesses” that succumbs much of our society today.
By doing these things, we are adding, though small, as it may seem, to the quality of lives of our fellow human being. This made me remember the meaning of the word HEALTH that the World Health Organization (WHO) gave, which is very complex and complete. For WHO, health is the complete state of well-being, physically, psychologically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually and not just an absence of disease or infirmity. This is a very holistic meaning of HEALTH and with this meaning; it brings me to the meaning of SALVATION.
For salvation comes from the Latin word salus i. e. to be whole or the wholeness of ones being. So to be healthy is to be whole, as too, is to be saved. Jesus brought salvation to the world, and this salvation is not just spiritual salvation, rather liberation from all form of bondage, “illness” and “disease” the cramps and overwhelm humanity. The call for you and me is to be a “doctor” who will bring not only heath but also salvation and liberation to all humanity. And our model would be the greatest doctor the medical profession could ever have, Jesus Christ.
Cite this Reflection for Patch Adams
Reflection for Patch Adams. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/reflection-for-patch-adams/