Friday, 18 September 2009
Trepanation - bliss or simply just bloody?
Trepanation. I was very young the first time I read about the practice, but it took many years before I realized how complex the history really is. Most of you how know of trepanation, will think of it as simply drilling a hole in the head. That is correct, but the drilling it self is actually the least interesting part of it all. Imagine that? Usually drilling in the head would get me all enthusiastic, but it is the mythology surrounding trepanation that really gets me going.
Treapanation is an ancient practice, skulls with holes in their head has been found in most parts of the world, and it is probably the oldest surgical procedure for witch there is evidence. And the evidence shows us that the skulls had signs of structural healing and this means patients survived the operation. This can maybe explain why it was so wide spread and also the amounts of skulls found with the characteristic holes; if people died from trepanation it would not be such a massive phenomenon.
The procedure it self is very simple, creating a hole in the skull using various tools, removing a fragment of bone in the scull and revealing the dura matter. From here though, we can go in a multitude of different directions.Cave paintings shows us that trepanation was used to cure migraine, and in the middle ages it was practised to cure seizures. It has been used to cure mental illness, to cast out evil spirits and also non therapeutic both post and pre mortem. But I want to focus on the modern voluntary trepanation.
And then we have to start if off with Bart Hughes, a Dutch librarian known for his publication "The Mechanism of Brainbloodvolume". He was the founder of the trepanation movement in 1962, and he is also known for performing his own trepanation. Hughes believed that evolution is self was the number one key to loss of consciousness, meaning the transformation from primate to upright stand caused the blood flow to be limited by gravity. Hughes believed that the key was found in the unsealed sculls of babies. The skulls of infants are not sealed and the brain is allowed to pulsate in beat with the heart, and as the child grows the brain is sealed in by bony carapace, reducing free thinking, dreams and fantasy. After observing a man standing on his head at a hash party in Ibiza claiming it got him high, he came to the conclusion that blood flow was in control of psychic enlightenment. Hughes believed drilling a hole in his head would increase blood flow and he would achieve his permanently higher level of vision.
Hughes believed that the holes found in skulls all over the world, was the mystical third eye it self. (Mind you, Hughes was heavily into LSD and marijuana at this time, he named his daughter Maria Juana). In his first attempt at a trepanation he used electric drill, a surgical knife and a hypodermic needle for anaesthetics. He revealed him self at a "happening" 10 days later. After giving a press conference and going to the hospital to get his x-ray taken, he was locked up for 3 weeks in psychiatric care. Go figure. "Gravity is the enemy, the adult it it's victim, society it it's disease. My problem is how to explain to the adult he has too little blood in his brain to understand, when he has too little blood in his brain to understand that."
Ah, the wonders of LSD.
In the footsteps of Hughes there are several followers. Amanda Feilding and Joey Mellen (author of the book "bore hole") are two of the well known ones, both performed their own trepanations, both claiming it instantly changed their lives. Both experimenting with LSD and various others drugs. Amanda Feilding actually filmed her own trepanation ( "Heartbeat in the brain), but has not put the film out. I've only seen pictures and in all honesty it has to be some of the more bizarre pictures I have seen. Amanda smiling with blood poring down her face. Joey has more trouble with his procedure since for the first attempt , Amanda used a hand drill, almost cracking open his skull. (Feilding ran for Parlament twice, on the platform 'Trepanation for the National Health")
Interestingly, people still believe drilling a hole will give them the ultimate consciousness. We see the modern primitives performing trepanation and documenting every detail. They still perform it in central Africa and in India. I doubt they engage in LSD as well. From reading the diary of one individual who had assisted trepanation, he felt no effects 6 months after having it done, and he believes the vague effects he felt the weeks after, was due to healing of tissue and blood flow to that specific area.
I will argue that the effects documented are similar to the the psychological effects one can experience from undergoing rituals. It's not the hole, it's not the brain pulsating, it's not BrainBloodVolume.
It's just a normal psychological/physical reaction to healing, and mental development through cognitive therapy. Unless you are trippin out on LSD that is. Then cutting of a leg would make you see God.
To sum it up, I am all for it. What ever you want to do is nobody's business but your own. And as long as you don't hurt anyone by doing it, I don't care what strange and bizarre activities people engage in. Just remember: There is a fine line between enlightenment and brain damage in this case.