A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

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trepanation

"A genius is one to whom the knowledge of the difference between yes and no is innate."   -- Dr. Bart Huges

Hieronomyous Bosch: The Extraction of the Stone of MadnessTrepanation is the process of cutting a hole in the skull. According to John Verano, a professor of anthropology at Tulane University, trepanation is the oldest surgical practice and is still performed ceremonially by some African tribes. A trepanned skull found in France was dated at about 5,000 BCE. About 1,000 trepanned skulls from Peru and Bolivia date from 500 BCE to the 16th century.

Bart Huges (b. 1934), a medical school graduate who has never practiced medicine except for a bit of self-surgery, believes that trepanation is the way to higher consciousness. He says that he wanted to be a psychiatrist but failed the obstetrics exam and so never went into practice. In 1965, after years of experimentation with LSD, cannabis, and other drugs, Dr. Huges realized that the way to enlightenment was by boring a hole in his skull. He used an electric drill, a scalpel, and a hypodermic needle (to administer a local anesthetic). The operation took him 45 minutes. How does it feel to be enlightened? "I feel like I did when I was 14," says Huges.

What led Dr. Huges to believe that trepanation would lead to enlightenment?  His first insight came when he was taught that he could get high by standing on his head. He came to believe that by permanently relieving pressure he could increase the flow of blood to the brain and achieve his goal. After he took a little mescaline he soon understood what was going on. "I recognized that the expanded consciousness was attributed to an increase in the volume of blood to the brain." How has such a simple fact eluded scientists and mystics alike for so many millennia?

In the past,  trepanation was used either to relieve pressure on the brain caused by disease or trauma, or to release evil spirits. The former is still an accepted medical procedure. The latter has died out in those parts of the world where scientific understanding has replaced belief in invading demons. Huges has yet to command a large following of trepanners, but he has managed to attract a few supporters with holes in their heads. One of his most illustrious pupils was Amanda Fielding from Oxford, England, who not only lived through the filming of her self-surgery but also became a candidate for Parliament. She received 40 votes from the people of Chelsea in 1978 where she ran on the promise of free trepanation from the National Health Service.

Feilding maintains that having a hole in her head allows more oxygen to reach her brain and helps expand her consciousness. It's safer than LSD, she says, apparently convinced those are her only two options to expand her consciousness. She claims she now has more energy and inspiration, and is on a permanent natural high. She claims the trepanned are better prepared to fight neurosis and depression and less likely to become prone to alcoholism and drug addiction.  One could say that she is very open-minded.

It should go without saying but it must be said anyway: trepanation is risky and can cause brain damage and infection. Also, according to Sugey Restituyo, many trepanners "later claim to have alien contacts and join the Raël movement."*

further reading

websites

Interview with Bart Huges by Joe Mellen, The Transatlantic Review No. 23, Winter 1966-1967

A Case History with gory pictures

THE PEOPLE WITH HOLES IN THEIR HEADS

PATHOLOGIES OF THE BOG BODIES

HOLE IN THE HEAD GANG by Timothy Colin Cridland

International Trepanation Advocacy Group

Trepanation Guide

Inca Skull Surgery - NOVA

Last updated December 24, 2013

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