The Alternative Meal
Though meals at asylums ranged in quality, it was far better to voluntarily eat a meal than to decline one. Doctors were concerned when patients refused to eat, often considering the refusal part of their mental condition. No matter how unpalatable a meal was, the alternative was probably worse.
An article in the American Journal of Insanity gave one doctor’s recipe for a meal delivered through a tube in the nostril: ”A mixture of two or three eggs, half an ounce of sugar, half an ounce of olive oil, and one pint milk or beef tea, strained through coarse linen cloth.”
The whole concoction could be administered within a few minutes. The doctor made no comment on his patients’ reactions to the procedure.
These pictures show the trauma involved in force-feeding.