I need another MeFi posting like I need a...
January 5, 2001 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I need another MeFi posting like I need a... Here's an organization devoted entirely to *intentionally* boring a hole in one's head. Apparently, it helps your brain to "function better". Well, if you're willing to go through with the procedure, you've certainly got room for improvement in that department.
posted by jpoulos (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I recall a few years ago they had an episode of E.R. where they made a house call to some guy who was bleeding profusely from the head. On purpose.
posted by pnevares at 6:48 AM on January 5, 2001

I'm confused on the practice, and I tried looking around for the answers. Now, the hole is 10mm in width, 1 centimeter, that's still very large, the holes on their website looks like 2-3 centimeters. That's insane! How does the blood exactly get into the brain? From the top? or? If there is no skull-plug is the brain inside, itself just left alone with it's only barrier being some skin? And theoretically if someone were to push hard enough through the skin could penetrate the brain? How does one avoid this?
posted by tiaka at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2001

From what I understand, the hole is normally no more that 7-8mm. I don't know about the blood, but there is no plug. thick scar tissue develops over the hole, but that's it. theoretically, if someone were to stab you with a knitting needle on the right spot, they could penetrate to the brain. but that's a risk these folks are willing to take, apparently.
posted by jpoulos at 7:16 AM on January 5, 2001

My reaction to this is similar to my reaction, a couple of weeks ago to the phrase "about to have their eyeballs removed".

And no, I don't know how you spell it.
posted by baylink at 7:25 AM on January 5, 2001

" It has been practised [sic] from Neolithic times (10.000 years ago) to the present day, and trepanned skulls or medical texts describing the operation are known from nearly all parts of the world."

Well shoot, if it is good enough for the people of an ancient agrarian society, it is good enough for me. Now where did I put that new Black and Decker drill?
posted by rorschach at 7:27 AM on January 5, 2001

While not for the faint of heart and/or stomach, here are a couple of pictures of Amanda Fielding trepanning herself. There's a video of her performing this little number on her skull floating around, too.

Creepy, yet intriguing.
posted by jennyb at 7:28 AM on January 5, 2001

What's with the '[sic]'?
posted by Mocata at 7:36 AM on January 5, 2001

Mocata: I imagine because "practised" is usually spelled with a c in the place of the s, but I think some people do spell it like that.
posted by pnevares at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2001

British people, for example.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2001

...and Americans who can't spell... :-)
posted by jpoulos at 7:54 AM on January 5, 2001

'practised' is the British spelling, right? therefore, no [sic.] is required.

there was an interesting article on trepaning in some magazine like 'Spin' a couple of years ago. (couldn't find it on their website).

i remember the idea being that with a hole in the head the brain is more free to expand and to receive more blood from the circulatory system. the process does not get more blood to the brain, per se. they say that the brain is free to expand as we grow, but that some point it fills up the cranium and can't expand and 'breathe' any longer.

i think those are the facts. but i don't plan on trepaning myself.
posted by Sean Meade at 7:58 AM on January 5, 2001

I didn't realize that practice/practise was one of the American/British English problem words. I just couldn't quote it without correcting--what appeared to me--to be a misspelled word. Old copy editing instincts die hard. I apologize for knocking the thread off-track.
posted by rorschach at 8:06 AM on January 5, 2001

see also trepan.com [via metafilter]
posted by plinth at 8:08 AM on January 5, 2001

Yeah, yeah - and to be fair 'practise' as the verb form seems to be dying out in the UK as well.

Anyway, my friend A---- says she knows the freaks behind this trepanning site. Apparently they're a bunch of nutters in a big house in Gloucestershire somewhere.

On their son's 21st birthday - according to my informant - they gave him the cash to go to Mexico or wherever and have a hole drilled in his head. Go figure.
posted by Mocata at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2001

I've been watching these trepanation folks for a couple years now (I believe they bear watching, if you know what I mean...)
Anyway, you might also want to check trepan.com they have a video and t-shirts!
posted by Jako at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2001

Regarding trepanation, I'm pretty sure the idea was first brought to people's attention by that great book The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa - geezer who claimed to be a Tibetan monk with mastery of astral projection &c. until he was revealed to be a former insurance salesman from Chicago (or something along those lines).
posted by Mocata at 8:12 AM on January 5, 2001

A english plumber actually.
posted by tiaka at 8:32 AM on January 5, 2001

If anyone is planning on trying it, make sure you boil the drill bit, put a stopper on it too so you don't go too deep. (I wonder if you would feel it? I think not, the brain that is. I am sure the skull would smell like burning and hurt like hell.)
posted by thirteen at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2001

'After some time there was an ominous sounding schlurp and the sound of bubbling. I drew the trepan out and the gurgling continued. It sounded like air bubbles running under the skull as they were pressed out. I looked at the trepan and there was a bit of bone in it. At last! On closer inspection I saw that the disc of bone was much deeper on one side than on the other. Obviously the trepan had not been straight and had gone through at one point only, then the piece of bone had snapped off and come out. I was reluctant to start drilling again for fear of damaging the brain membranes with the deeper part while I was cutting through the rest or of breaking off a splinter. If only I had an electric drill it would have been so much simpler. Amanda was sure I was through. There seemed no other explanation for the schlurping noises I decided to call it a day. At the time I thought that any hole would do, no matter what size. I bandaged up my head and cleared away the mess.'

There was still doubt in his mind as to whether he had really broken through and, if so, whether the hole was big enough to restore pulsation to his brain. The operation had left him with a feeling of wellbeing, but he realized that it could simply be from relief at having ended it. To put the matter beyond doubt, he decided to bore another hole at a new spot just above the hairline, this time using an electric drill. In the spring of 1970, Amanda was in America and Joey did the operation alone. He applied the drill to his forehead, but after half and hour's work the electric cable burnt out. Once again he was frustrated. An engineer in the flat below him was able to repair the instrument and next day he set out to finish the job. 'This time I was not in any doubt. The drill head went at least an inch deep through the hole. A great gush of blood followed my withdrawal of the drill. In the mirror I could see the blood in the hole rising and falling with the pulsation of the brain.'

I'll be sleeping with the light on for a few weeks now.

posted by Skot at 8:47 AM on January 5, 2001


Thanks for the nightmares, in advance.
posted by pnevares at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2001

Sorry tiaka. You're right; according to this guy he was Irish but he was London-based - respect!
posted by Mocata at 9:26 AM on January 5, 2001

Can anyone here say cerebral meningitis?

Are these people nuts??

Oh... sorry.
posted by baylink at 11:09 AM on January 5, 2001

yes, well, I am tempted to make a statement about bottles and lobotomys, but I'm sure its crossed someones mind already ;)
posted by Hackworth at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2001

I think this is a great example of how generalizations just don't work.
"Nobody would ever want a hole drilled in their head".
All generalizations suck!
posted by thirteen at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2001

Not to get off-thread but, while I like your idea, thirteen, I think your mistaken. "Nobody would ever want a hole drilled in their head" isn't a generalization. An example of a generalization is "People don't want holes drilled in their heads." *In general*, that's a true statement... The key is that you can't go around assuming that generalizations are true for *all people*, because sooner or later you'll run into someone who's waited their *whole life* to get their head drilled, and now you've gone and ruined their day.
posted by jpoulos at 12:39 PM on January 5, 2001

Anyone else see Pi?

sorry, that's all I could think of after reading Skot's little passage
posted by tj at 1:01 PM on January 5, 2001

jpoulos: Your example is much better. Mine did not feel right to me either, but I went with it anyway. Regardless, you made the point better than I could have. Thanks.
posted by thirteen at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2001

Isn't the point of trepanation to make it easier for Dust to get into your head?
posted by rodii at 2:43 PM on January 5, 2001

I'd like to try it, actually. I bet it would relieve my terrible sinus headaches.
posted by SilentSalamander at 3:36 PM on January 5, 2001

Oh, that reminds me. My brother-in-law got some sort of bug that resulted in severely infected sinuses. it was so bad that they couldn't clean them out in the traditional way, which I think involves having the patient drink milk through a straw and then telling really stupid jokes in a crowded lunchroom. . . Anyway. So they put him in the hospital, where they made an incision in his scalp from ear to ear over the top of his head (think approximately where the strap on your headphones goes). Then (don't read this) THEY PULLED HIS SCALP FROM THE FRONT AND PEELED DOWN HIS FACE until they could clean out his sinuses from the front. They they flapped his face back up, stitched him together and sent him home.

Give me trepanation any day.
posted by rodii at 6:34 PM on January 5, 2001

posted by tj at 6:36 PM on January 5, 2001

rodii, I find that hard to believe. If the skin was the only thing in the way, why couldn't they just make a less drastic incision somewhere else?

They're all behind bone, anyway, as far as I can tell.
posted by whatnotever at 7:56 PM on January 5, 2001

Don't most face lifts involve some amount of face-peeling?
posted by aaron at 11:51 PM on January 5, 2001

It's not just an archaic practice--they really do still drill holes into your skull for medical reasons. Stroke victims, for example, sometimes develop blood clots at the base of their crania, which keeps the meningeal fluid from draining. The resulting pressure buildup can crush the brain and cause death. So they drill a little hole in your skull and drain out the fluid until the blood clot can dissolve itself.
posted by shylock at 12:19 AM on January 6, 2001

I found it hard to believe too, but that's the way it was explained to me by the doctor and the patient. Somehow it wasn't just skin that was peeled back, it started at the scalp and maybe ended up spreading out a skull suture? I dunno, I just like (in a horror-story way) the image of my brother-in-law with his face folded down. :P
posted by rodii at 9:46 AM on January 6, 2001

The whole method of cutting from ear to ear and pulling the skin down is a common technique. I almost had it done when I got hit by a baseball and it cracked my skull just above one of my eyes and next to my nose. Noting my Dad's baldness (which has now caught up to me) the Doctor decided to instead go with an incision along my eyebrow.

I have 2 titanium plates now. No, I don't set off metal detectors, pick up radio stations (alien or otherwise), and Titanium doesn't magnetize so I can't perform any party tricks with a magnet and a spoon.
posted by john at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2001

The point of peeling down the face is probably to avoid large, unsightly scars in highly noticeable places. If the peeling-of-face method is quite safe, it's probably in the patient's best interest. But really, I'm just making this up.
posted by daveadams at 2:24 PM on January 6, 2001

rodii: For the love of Ghod, please, please tell me this was done while your brother-in-law was completely, absolutely, no-chance-of-waking-up-in-the-middle-of-it-all, anesthetized. Right now, I picture him just sitting there while the doctor blithely tries to engage him in small talk while poking away at his naked sinuses. "So, how's the Missus? Good?"
posted by webmutant at 12:40 AM on March 15, 2001

« Older Wacky!   |   Boon-Ga Boon-Ga! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments