Monday, January 25, 2010

"Gesuntheit" by Patch Adams: Discussion Review

There was a very good turnout for the first book club meeting of the year at Thea’s home. Unfortunately, our member bearing the main dish was a little off course, so over a glass of wine for those who enjoy wine, we discussed the book list for 2010. You will find the results of that discussion elsewhere.

After Sherrie arrived and the meal was prepared, we sat down around a lovely dinner table, shared a delicious meal and discussed the book Gesuntheit by Patch Adams. The following points were made:

  • Although the entire book discusses the value of humour and silliness within the practice of medicine, we were of the opinion that respect both of patient and doctor were of value. We agreed that we perhaps would not like a touchy-feely type of doctor. Perhaps we are too conditioned by our society, but we felt respect and dignity go a long ways to feeling comfortable with our medical professionals.

  • We agreed that for the most part our general practitioners cared about their patients and when the occasion warranted took the time to spend with us to ensure they understand our issues.

  • We agreed that our socialized system of medicine was not exactly the same as the system in the US, and that perhaps our system even more than in the US operated like a business rather than proper care for the patient as a patient. For every incident we could see that the business of medicine was cruel and unusual, we did however see incidents where the system worked reasonably well. The largest issue we do not need to be concerned with is health care for the affluent only, however (as an afterthought) we do experience a two tier system of sorts in Canada.

  • It is notable that Dr. Adams was not ultimately successful in establishing his silly hospital, due to funding issues. We ascertained this meant that society did not really buy into his ideal, or perhaps that he underestimated the cost of building, outfitting and operating a hospital, based on the incredible idea of not charging for services rendered.

  • We also noted with sadness that his marriage was offered on the altar of silliness (Probably more truthful to say that he was rarely at home with his wife, but the altar stuff sounds better!)

  • We also discussed some discrepancies between the movie and the book, with no conclusion whether the movie was a truthful version of the book.

Many of us found it a difficult read, excepting those who had recent experience with the medical community or worked in the field of medicine. We did agree however that there is a prevalent trend towards “dehumanizing” medicine, generally speaking.


  1. Wow - that was quick, Thea! If I had to pick one "take home messge" from Patch's book it would be that health is about so much more than bones, muscles, organs and genes. We can set ourselves up for better health by surrounding ourselves with community, nature, creative pursuits - and choosing to live with joy!

  2. You are absolutely right, Tessa! That was the overriding message. Unfortunately when the hostess is busy making sure everything is running smoothly, she may forget to take notes ;-)Newbie error...


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