Famous ethicist John Rawls believed that in order to promote fairness and equality, coming out of the ‘veil of ignorance’ is imperative. He idealized a society where there was no social status or labeling associated to individuals and everyone could be entitled to same social rights. Perhaps John Rawls envisioned a social model based on morality, ethicality, and virtues. His ideology seems similar to that of Dr. Patch Adams who intends to design a society based on ‘care systems’. Dr Adams philosophy of holistic care integrates cause with compassion and is a consciousness raising effort of utmost importance in healthcare system today. Historically, health has been analogous to medicine and ‘bedside manner’ has therefore been a critical part of Doctors’ diagnosis and care relationship with their patients. However, over the years this contemporary facet of medical ethics has been slowly replaced by tyrannical pathology and health technology. Hence, the medical model with its many inventions may have reduced the pain. But it has been unable to eliminate the suffering in the absence of human feeling and compassion.
In the United States, the efficacy of medical fraternity with its interdisciplinary team of health professionals indeed has been commendable in conquering many chronic ailments. Their toil coupled with ongoing innovations in clinical practice has led to scientific, yet sometimes impersonal approach to patient health. The ascending cost of care at the medical practitioner’s end and the out of pocket expenses at the patient’s end have perhaps made healthcare a big-ticket item, especially for the ones indigent and vulnerable. On the other hand, a culture of individualism in the society has made compassionate healthcare a remote possibility. In the midst of an existing sympathetic model of medical care, Dr Adams has conceived empathetic care with his astounding fun and play therapy. His new age healing integrates health of the individual with that of the family and community. His model of health does not believe in fixing the patient, but stabilizing their wounded emotions through love, joy, and humor. Dr Adams creative and famous care through joy of clowning helps restore and rehabilitate patient’s health with difference. His benevolent intervention and humanitarian approach to the practice of medicine is a much needed component in the healthcare system today. Imagine if compassion would have been the cornerstone of healthcare, we would not have been indulging in the business of antidepressants! Or relying too much and too often on sedatives and tranquilizers leading to prescription drug abuse. Moreover, had compassionate care and not just ‘cure’ been one of the precepts of healthcare, health insurance would not have been a booming business in the United States.
Dr Adams healthcare model seems applicable in severe trauma cases, such as war victims, war veterans, and children besides patients in institutionalized care and hospice. By sharing charismatic and colorful touch, Dr Adams and his team express the ability to uplift depressed emotions and infuse positive energies among those dejected and disconnected from the mainstream. Such phenomenon certainly is deeper than the acumen of medical science. Also, Dr Adams’ radical ideas can be elemental in bringing progressive change in our lives, community health, and society at large. Encouraging such altruistic initiatives and learning from them can be helpful in uncovering a benign emotion named compassion that each of us is blessed with.
Gesundheit! (wishing good health to all)