Hole in the Head : Modern Day Trepanation


hole in head sculpture apr 12.jpg

Hole in the Head : Modern Day Trepanation

One of the most bizarre news headlines of the last few years featured the 29yr old Brit Heather Perry, who drilled a hole in her head in an attempt to cure her chronic fatigue syndrome.

Watched by a film crew (this operation is legal in the US, where she carried out the practice) she first injected a local anaesthetic into the crown of her head before using a surgeon's knife to cut away a section of her scalp.

Then Ms Perry proceeded to drill into her skull. However, the operation almost went horribly wrong when she drilled too far and penetrated a membrane protecting her brain tissue.

After recovering from her DIY surgery, Ms Perry said : "I can't say the effects have been dramatic, but they are there. I generally feel better and there's definitely more mental clarity".

Ms Perry, however, is not the first to try this gruesome-sounding therapy - known as 'trepanning'. Indeed, it is an ancient technique that is at least 10,000 years old and has, at one time or other, been practised on every continent.

According to anthropological evidence care was taken not to penetrate below the level of the bone membrane and thus cause brain damage. On the contrary, Trepanation was (and still is) deemed by it's followers to provide considerable mental health benefits.

Dr Bart Hughes, an avid proponent of this technique during the 1960's stated that trepanation allows blood to flow more easily around the brain, thus increasing one's level of alertness, concentration and overall state of consciousness.

The higher state of mind he sought was that of childhood. Babies are born with skulls unsealed, thus allowing blood to flow more easily to the topmost part of the brain. Dr Bart declared that natural fusing of the skull in early adulthood, however, prevented the blood from circulating so freely, thus putting an end to the vivid dreams, imagination and perception of the child.

Instead, the adult mind is filled with neuroses and egoism - conditions that Dr Bart believed could be permanently cured through trepanation.

The CMA, however, do not plan to add trepanning to their list of recommended therapies.

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