People

Clement Clark

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Dr. Clement Clark, M. D., was the second superintendent of Springfield Hospital, succeeding Dr. George Rohe, who died after about two years managing the instituion.


Born in 1858 to rather accomplished parents with a good deal of money, Dr. Clark grew up in Caroline County, Maryland, and won a scholarship to St. John's college in Annapolis. He was forced to quit school due to ill health, but eventually recovered and earned a degree as Doctor of Medicine from the University of Maryland.


He became a politician, served as president of a local town council, and eventually a Maryland State Delegate. He was a Democrat.


Beginning in 1896, about the same time that Springfield opened, he  served shortly as assistant to the superintendent of the First Hospital for the Maryland Insane at Catonsville. On Dr. Rohe's death, Dr. Clark took over at Springfield, where he would serve deep into the 1920s.


He fully acccepted and implemented Dr. Rohe's rather radical techniques for treating the insane. There were no locked doors. Restraints were seldom used. And the patients worked. Dr. Rohe firmly believed in this system, and Dr. Clark seemed to agree that this was the best and most correct way to treat the mentally ill.


The system would be challenged, however, over the years, as the doctor would struggle with the problems presented by a constantly increasing patient population and resulting crowding of the facilities.


He lived in the old Patterson Mansion with his wife and mother, until the mansion burned in 1912.


He was particularly concerned with the problems of the epileptic and non-epileptic insane and eventually succeeded in having a special colony built for epileptics. It became known as Clark Circle. It's still there. The buildings are intact, but they are no longer in use.


Dr. Clark was a man of his times with strong opinions, who seemed to believe that many of the insane were the children of immigrants and that better immigration control would help alleviate the problem. He also seemed inclined toward accepting the basic tenets of eugenics, a once popular view that the human race could be improved through selective breeding.


His writings are available at the Gate House Museum  in his annual reports from the early twentieth century.