By Ian Miller
This publication is Open entry below a CC through license.
It is the 1st monograph-length research of the force-feeding of starvation strikers in English, Irish and northern Irish prisons. It examines moral debates that arose in the course of the 20th century whilst governments permitted the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes, Irish republicans and convict prisoners. It additionally explores the fraught position of felony medical professionals referred to as upon to accomplish the approach. because the domestic workplace first permitted force-feeding in 1909, a couple of questions were raised concerning the process. Is force-feeding secure? Can it kill? Are medical professionals who feed prisoners opposed to their will leaving behind the scientific moral norms in their career? And do nation our bodies use criminal medical professionals to assist take on political dissidence now and then of political crisis?
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Additional info for A History of Force Feeding: Hunger Strikes, Prisons and Medical Ethics, 1909-1974
It came as some surprise that her prison doctors had resorted to such an intrusive strategy. Over the five years that followed, the contentious issue of force-feeding acquired considerable depth. Force-feeding was an imperfect solution. Patients who had refused food in asylums were considered insane. They had lost the rationality to make an informed decision about whether or not to eat. Prison hunger strikes were entirely different. 26 Moreover, their decisions to abstain from eating were premeditated, deliberate, and political.
This chapter argues that a particular socio-cultural climate existed in the 1970s that facilitated the formal condemnation of force-feeding by the medical profession. As in the past, force-feeding raised basic questions about the purpose of inflicting pain on politicised prisoners in a western, liberal culture that felt compassion for those perceived to be in physical distress. The emotional economies of post-war British culture clashed with the rational political logic of using force to maintain national security.
It suggests that outraged suffragettes were adept at eliciting support from the English medical community who willingly provided damning evidence on the problematic nature of force-feeding and claimed that prison doctors who fed were ‘prostituting’ their profession to help the government defeat political opposition. Medical ethics, it seemed, had been temporarily abandoned in English prisons. This chapter also examines other questions posed in this period. Is force-feeding psychologically and emotionally damaging?