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Self-Trepanation: Drilling A Hole In Your Own Head (Watch)

Armamentarium chirurgicum, by Johannes Scultetus (1655), showing how trepanation was performed (left) and a set of trepanation instruments

Trepanation is “the practice of making a hole in the skull in order to improve the brain pulsations and hence the overall well being. It has long been practiced in many cultures all over the world.” It’s pretty much like blood letting. It is one of the oldest known surgeries.

For instance, skeletal evidence suggests that the Incas were very skilled skull surgeons. Before the modern comforts of anesthesia, modern tools, or even antibiotics, they performed this risky surgery with regularity. Bone remodeling around many of the skulls suggests that the surgeries were done with some level of success. However, there were many that didn’t recover as well. 

The top inset photograph is of the side of the skull where a previous trepanation had been successful enough to allow bone regrowth. So this fellow had it done, it worked for at least a time, then when he died he left his body to science (or science just took it) and became a drill depth tester. http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/28418

“The top inset photograph is of the side of the skull where a previous trepanation had been successful enough to allow bone regrowth. So this fellow had it done, it worked for at least a time”
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/28418

However, would you do this to yourself? 

The International Trepanation Advocacy Group advocates for the surgery as a way to restore youthfulness, energy and relieve pressure, among other health claims. Many modern docs don’t quite agree with its use, but it is still practiced. In fact, there are societies of self- trepaners in the world. Meaning, they perform the surgery on themselves. 

Amanda Feilding, British artist and scientist, is once of these individuals who performed the trepanation surgery on herself! She even chronicled her experience via a video that I’m happy to share with you.

One of the underlying tensions regarding this practice is much larger than just drilling a hole in one’s head. It is the constance struggle of “traditional” vs. “modern” methods of medical and health treatments. I, personally, am an advocate for complimentary methods of traditional and modern medicine and practices, however, I don’t think I;ll be engaging in trepanation of any kind any time soon. 

What do you think? Were you or have you participated in a medical practice that raised eyebrows? 

1 Comment on Self-Trepanation: Drilling A Hole In Your Own Head (Watch)

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