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Trepanation is one of those bizarre cults that most people don't know about. I think it may be related to the "amputee" cult, where people want their arms or legs cut off to feel "whole", which in turn may be a neuropsychological disorder possibly caused by somatosensory deprivation. The yet more wide-spread acts of self-injury may also be related. This is just what I think, though; it's not too hard to debunk the trepans since they present no evidence, but I'd be interested in any analysis of why they do it. --Eloquence

somatosensory deprivation? -- Tarquin

Lack of physical contact (in a broader sense including sexual contact) and movement, known to cause various disorders and to be a causal factor in aggressive/violent behavior. See
So does this tie in with the increasing fad in Western society for body modification? -- Tarquin
Many people into BM simply think it looks beautiful, so their behavior is probably motivated by the good old evolutionary mate-seeking module (how concepts of beauty are formed is, of course, a tricky question). This is probably not the case for those who are "piercing addicts" and need to have a new BM every week to feel "whole", similarly, the trepanation people need to have a new hole in their skull every few months (I kid you not). Repetitive, obsessive-compulsive behavioral patterns may have an identifiable pathogenesis, although little seems to be done to study the subject except for the usual rhetoric by psychologists and the Prozac prescriptions by psychiatrists ... --Eloquence
Could this be considered Body modification?? (see the amasci holes-in-your-head article (added link//os 05:00, 25 July 2006 (UTC)) for documentation on self-trepanning...) but then again, in Talk:Body modification, self-harm (is some self-trepanning not self-harm? in other words, not performed out of desperation or delusion? or can you be deluded and want severe alterations to your physical form but not be self-harming?? etc) is considered to not be part of the cult of 'true' body modification.. --os
Thank you for the information. I didn't know that. Trepanning was used to  release  pressure on a human skull/brain. Meaning, to release headaches and evil spirits. People was  superstitious back then.  Brook1900 (talk) 23:41, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Sounds a lot like touch starvation. Also like a dopamine imbalance like what occurs in addictions, touretts syndrome, and other neurologic disorders, such as alien implant delusion where the sufferer digs, and scratches, at the place of the percieved implant. Online forums for sufferers, and believers in the delusion, have micro pictues of "fibers" from the scratched area putatively the evidence of the implant. Really just the fibers from clothing adhering to the dried serum that weeps from scratched open skin. There are other scratching, and skin breaking, disorders that don't include the delusion. But delusional or not they are dangerous because they have resulted in sudden death from toxic shock due to repeated infection. (talk) 06:15, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

Uninformative nature of the article[edit]

This is a surprisingly uninformative article, and I would suggest that the whole thing be rewritten. The singling out of Mesoamerica, the repeated list of AKA's, "Techniques ... were identical to techniques practiced in the eastern hemisphere" without any mention of techniques, all of these contribute to a general sloppiness. I am no expert on the subject, but I might suggest the following organization:

Trepanation in the Old World: Neolithic evidence, Hippocrates, Medieval documentation, 18th and 19th century tools
Trepanation in the New World: archaeological examples, tools used, discussion of purposes
Modern trepanation: medical controversy, obsessive trepanation, self-trepanation

I don't see the benefit of the "Trepanation in Literature" section at all. --CKozeluh 17:39, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your layout proposal, and will make some changes to reflect it.--Cassmus 08:43, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


"It addresses health problems that relate to abnormal intracranial pressure." Doesn't 'addresses' imply that this is a proven fact? I don't believe this is proven, some people believe(d) this, right? --Dyss 23:46, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)

-This is the reasoning that some people continue to practice Trepanation. They feel that brain pressure or even a mental disorder can be relieved, perhaps explaining the ancient belief that it released harmful spirits. Of course, very few professional studies have been done on the subject, considering the practice is illegal. The only supporting claims are of those who have volunteered themselves, claiming a natural "child-like" high.


"Capillaries are minute blood vessels, which form the interface between arteries and organs. It is from the capillaries that the cells of any organ - including the brain - take food, and into them that they discard their waste. The brain's food is glucose, which is combusted in its cells through being combined with oxygen. This exchange of nutrients and waste products, and in particular the oxidation of glucose, is the very basis of brain metabolism. When the capillary content of the brain is increased, there is an enlarged area of contact between blood and brain cells, resulting in an enhanced rate of exchange of nutrients and waste products. This is true of any organ. In order to accelerate its function, extra blood is directed to it thereby increasing its capillary volume. Since consciousness is brain metabolism above a certain level, with an acceleration of brain metabolism there is a corresponding expansion of consciousness."

"The medium through which metabolism takes place is blood. However, in the central nervous system, the home of the brain, blood is not alone; there are two fluids: blood and brain-water (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF). The water is the fluid in which the brain floats, but from which it derives no nourishment. It is lighter than blood and is produced continuously in the brain itself. Most importantly, the ratio between these two fluid volumes, blood and CSF, can be altered - the volume of one can increase at the expense of the other. Hence, the total volume of blood in the brain capillaries can be increased, but only if a corresponding amount of brain-water is forced out of the cranial cavity. Expelling the brain-water, however, is made difficult by a number of factors. First, as CSF is produced continuously in the brain itself, it has a 'squatter's' advantage over blood, which reaches the brain through arteries, passes into capillaries and leaves through veins. Second, capillary walls, despite being exceedingly thin and permeable, actually resist expansion. There is a lack of elasticity in these vessel walls, which means that in order for them to accommodate an increase in blood they have to be 'blown up'. Third and most significantly, since the fluids are of different weights, gravity 'changes sides' depending on the position of the head relative to the heart. In man's position, with the head held high above the heart, gravity favours brain-water as it is the lighter of the two fluids. These difficulties can be overcome, however, by allowing a natural pressure increase to be created in the brain cavity: a pressure which squeezes out a certain amount of brain-water, forcing it out of the cranium via the sheaths of the nerve channels running down either side of the spine. In essence then, the question of enhancing brain metabolism and expanding consciousness is one of creating sufficient intracranial pressure to push out cerebrospinal fluid, thereby increasing capillary volume."

"So how is this pressure created in the brain cavity and why describe it as 'natural'? The answer to both questions derives from the same organ: the heart. In order for the blood to gain territory inside the cranium, the pushing power of the heart must be harnessed. The body's blood circulation is driven by the heart, and the variable pressure in this circulatory system can be measured, at different points during the cardiac cycle or heartbeat, as blood pressure readings. The contraction of the heart and point of maximum pressure is called the systole, and is read as systolic pressure; the relaxation of the heart and pressure trough, which lasts much longer, is called the diastole, and is read as diastolic pressure. When the heart contracts, it pumps successive surges of blood into the already filled arterial system. As fluids are incompressible, the artery walls have to expand rhythmically to accommodate the extra blood (and this can be felt as a pulse). The consequent distension travels like a wave along the arteries, becomes a ripple in the small arteries and dies out in the capillaries. The crest of the pulse wave represents the systolic pressure, the low point represents the diastolic pressure. Importantly, the pressure of the pulse expressed in the artery walls creates a similar pressure in the surrounding tissue or organs of the body, which expand momentarily (i.e. pulsate) against the elastic membranes surrounding them. As far as the central nervous system is concerned, the force of this expansion causes the brain tissue to exert a similar force on its membranes, which must then move outwards. The systolic or full pulse pressure created by allowing this force to be freely expressed acts itself out on both the brain capillaries (blowing them up with blood), and the lake of CSF (expelling a quantity of it). A brain registering a pulsation strong enough to make its force felt in the capillaries is therefore one that has more blood to feed off, i.e. more glucose to burn and convert into energy."

"At this point a problem arises. The previous description of how the heart's pushing power provides enough pressure to maintain a healthy volume of blood in the brain's capillaries, applies only to the young. It does not hold true for the vast majority of adults. The story of why not and what to do about why not, is the story of pulsating brains, adulthood and trepanation. As noted earlier, for full pulsation to take place, the brain - like any other organ - needs to be able to expand freely in response to the successive surges of blood against the artery walls. For this expansion to occur, there must be some 'give' in the membranes surrounding the organ. In other words, full pulsation requires expansion to be against an elastic surface. However, as the child becomes an adult, an important change takes place here."

"The central nervous system lies within a bag made of three layers of strong elastic membrane. The bag and its contents are protected from the outside world by the skull and spinal column, which completely surround them. During infancy and youth the brain membranes can expand elastically because of holes in the not-yet-fully-formed skull and a strong pulse-wave can therefore be expressed in the brain cavity. In the baby's fontanel one can feel the membranes expand with every contraction of the heart. Although the fontanels soon close, the skull is still in separate pieces, allowing the full pulse pressure to continue exerting its force on the lake of brain-water. In the teens, the pieces of skull gradually grow together, which begins to inhibit pulsation. By the end of growth, they finally interlock, and a hermetically sealed skull is the result. The brain membranes are deprived of enough elasticity to allow the full pulse-wave to enter the cranium. The systolic pressure is lost in the small arteries of the brain, resulting in a shrinking of capillary volume and an expansion of cerebrospinal fluid. This loss of capillary volume causes a reduction in metabolic activity since the area of contact between brain cells and blood is reduced. In order to direct the diminished volume of blood to those brain centres most essential for survival, the arteries leading to other centres are constricted; thus, with the onset of adulthood, the mechanism of repression, first formed in childhood, becomes an essential tool of survival. The field of consciousness is reduced, as less brain centres are able to function simultaneously. The animal is now truly an adult: the levels of brain blood volume and brain metabolism have reached their lowest norms."

"This drop in intracranial pressure is common to all animals that have cranial sutures that calcify at the end of growth. The only exceptions to this rule are those that have some accidental expansion hole in the skull and are therefore unaffected by its sealing. It does not matter where the expansion window is, nor its size, so long as it gives the membranes surrounding the brain the possibility of accommodating the full pulse-wave. Those of us not lucky enough to have an accidental or unintended hole in the skull can still enjoy the benefits that a hole brings through the ancient practice of trepanation. Trepanation, which nowadays is painless and extremely quick, was first practised about 10,000 years ago. From those ancient times onwards, it has been performed around the world as an initiation into the higher or priestly castes, and as a treatment for such things as migraine, epilepsy, depression and insanity; it was usually given a superstitious explanation, such as letting 'light in' or 'demons out'. In many cultures the hole created in the skull was called the 'third eye', as seen, for example, in depictions of the Hindu god Shiva). Quite simply, trepanation reverses the drop in intracranial pressure by 'uncorking' the cranium. A small piece of bone is removed from the skull by a surgical drill known as a trepan; the membranes surrounding the brain are left intact as the operation is performed solely on the bone. By creating an expansion window, trepanation restores the youthful level of intracranial pressure. It takes approximately four hours after the creation of the hole for the change to be completed. During this time, there is a blowing up of the capillaries, droplet by droplet, and a simultaneous squeezing out of the brain-water, until the point at which the force of the full pulse pressure equals the resistance of the brain-water to being squeezed out. After that, the force acts itself out by expelling the CSF produced during the rest of the cardiac cycle. The total volume of blood in the capillaries has been increased. This vital increase in capillary volume should not be confused with the fractional increase in the volume of the cranial cavity caused by the trepanation hole - the hole merely allows the brain's arteries and membranes to expand fully on the heartbeat once again. It is the restoration of the pre-adult level of intracranial pressure, given back by the hole, which causes the all-important shift in the ratio of the fluid volumes. It has been estimated that the increase in capillary volume made by trepanation is around 30cc, which is approximately one third of the estimated total possible increase. The reason why trepanation only augments the blood volume by one third of the maximum increase possible, is because it only introduces pressure during a fraction of the heart cycle, i.e. during the systole. By the 'third eye', a person derives as much benefit as the force of the heart can give during the brief systolic period: a basic economy necessary for comfortable living. Since holes in the skull do not seal, (even the small ones of modern-day trepanning) the youthful pressure level, once recovered, lasts forever. Thus, 'cranial rejuvenation' offers increased contact between brain cells and 'brain food', an accelerated exchange of nutrients and waste, which will last until death. And so, by permanently restoring brain metabolism to its youthful level, trepanation offers the best of both worlds: the energy and buoyancy of the young are added to the experience and wisdom that come with age.

[It is necessary to point out that during the last three decades there has been no study of the mechanism outlined above by the medical community. However, interest is finally being shown, and hopefully independent verification is now in sight.] "

"Why had she felt such a need to have this operation? She told me that in her twenties she had started to feel very low. She holds the theory that the human brain really starts to suffer seriously from lack of ‘bloodvolume’ when the skull bones finally close at the age of 18. ‘People start to suffer from mania and various other mental illnesses, when they have never suffered from them before.’"

"the human brain is locked away, contained in a hermetically sealed skull and this greatly limits its functions and our perception of the world. According to Huges, the ideal state is that of the child, for children are not born with a hard, sealed skull. Only gradually and over a long period of time, do bony tissues fuse the plates of the skull together. For a while they float freely. As Huges suggests, it is actually very simple to return this ideal state and ¡liberate the brain. It is sufficient to drill a little hole in the skull with a diameter of about 6mm. And that is what he did."

"In prison, having checked the mechanism by perceiving the cerebrospinal fluid in the back outside the central nervous system (after using the pressed-up method described in the scroll,) I thought about making a hole at the base of the spine to let the fluid out, and while thinking about holes I realised that pressure was necessary to squeeze the cerebrospinal fluid out of the system. Then, having concluded upon the nil pressure inside the adult skull (in most people the skull seals between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two,) I saw that any hole in the bony surrounding of the system would give the pressure back. But after a time I realised a hole in the spine would heal over so it had to be in the skull, where holes stay open."

"According to Huges, increasing the quantity of blood in the cranium will create a permanent high. "We are all living under the yoke of gravity’s drag," he declared during a 1966 interview in the Transatlantic Review. "Gravity is the enemy. The adult is its victim. Society is its disease." Huges, who is the author of Trepanation: The Cure for Psychosis," claimed the devolution of humankind was caused by the adoption of the upright stance - the price paid for bipedal motion and the opposable thumb was loss of blood to the brain, The brain is nourished by oxygen and sugar, both supplied by blood. By reducing the amount of blood received, the brain, according to this doctrine, becomes nutrient-deficient and its range of consciousness is proportionally diminished. Youngsters, until around the age of 18, are not so deprived, reasons Huges; babies are born with their skulls unsealed, so the blood flows directly from their hears to their brains, allowing for a creativity that most sealed-skull adults lack. Short of standing on one’s head around the clock, taking successive hot and cold showers, or continuously dropping acid, Huges maintains that creating an opening in one’s skull is the only way to forever defy the limiting forces of nature."

""The purpose of having a hole in your head," says Feilding, "is to allow the membranes that surround the brain to expand, which occurs on the heartbeat. In order to have adequate pulsation in the brain, it must be against an expandable surface. The extra pulse from the hole exerts pressure on the fluid in the brain, which is a lake of cerebral spinal fluid, until some of it is pressed out and replaced by blood. This forms a new ratio between the two fluid volumes, whereby you have permanently more blood and less cerebral spinal fluid so that there’s a restoration to the level of childhood."

Feilding believes the heightened consciousness resulting from trepanation - the subtly felt high that, she asserts, we are all seeking on some level (i.e., from driving fast, getting drunk, having obsessive romances, and so on) - is a "freebie" life advantage not to be missed. "There’s a relaxing," she says, "and at the same time an increasing of energy. It remains the same brain, the same intelligence and personality. You just have it functioning at a slightly higher level."

"It is essential that everyone knows how to restore blood to their brain," says Feilding.

Does it matter where the hole is?

No. As far as restoring full pulsation in the brain arteries goes, it can be anywhere in the cranial cavity or spinal column. However, holes in the spinal column close whereas holes in the cranium don't. Certain areas of the cranium are preferable to others, as there are fewer blood vessels and less muscle. Even the losing of eyesight creates a suitable expansion window after the optical nerves have atrophied.

Is it only people with mental health problems who stand to benefit from trepanation?

No. Any adult with a hermetically sealed skull stands to gain from the increase in brain blood volume brought about by restoring the full pulse pressure. Who'd say no to a bit more brain metabolism? Nevertheless, the worse the mental problem, the more there is to gain from lifting the floor of the neurosis. Mental health is mainly a question of blood being able to circulate freely around the various centres of the brain. Neurosis is the result of the chronic constriction of brain arteries, which creates an imbalance. The pattern of constriction/repression is imprinted by trauma. When adulthood comes with its need for tighter control of the blood supply, the pre-laid pattern of constriction facilitates the process of repression and directs the now limited supply of blood to those centres most essential for survival by constricting the arteries leading to other areas. Free circulation of blood is thus impeded as areas of the brain become 'blocked off'. After trepanation, brain blood is no longer in such short supply and there can be a loosening of chronic constriction. Some of those centres formerly repressed from function and giving rise to neurotic behaviour can now be eased back within the reach of consciousness. As for psychosis, the various components of personality that were webbed together during childhood split apart. Connections are broken … associations lost … control lost. These lost connections can best be 're-associated' by first re-creating the level of brain blood volume that was there when they were originally established. This is what trepanation does ……… By lifting the psyche up to the level it was at when the patterns of conditioned-reflex behaviour were first installed, re-conditioning is facilitated. That is the nub. It is easier to implant, or learn, when there are more active cells to implant upon. The extent to which the cells can be active depends on the energy supply - the blood: more blood….. more energy…..more experience/ learning potential. And so, the use of sound healing techniques stands a better chance of success with a pulsating brain than with a brain where the cells are close to starvation rations.

If we were supposed to have a hole in our skulls, don't you think that evolution would have provided us with one?

On the face of it, the argument seems convincing, but this is largely due to a misunderstanding of evolutionary time. We as a species have not been around very long in terms of evolution. Our own genus - Homo - is still in its infancy, in fact. The first hominids appeared just 2-3 million years ago. Even if you go back the complete 10-15 million years since our earliest ancestors first came down from the trees, compare it with the 150 million years of the bird, and you can still see quite clearly our status as newcomers. It took millions of years of spontaneous hunting in order to arrive, through natural selection for tool-making ability, at the introduction of even the most basic pebble-tool culture. This development brought with it selection pressure for such physical changes as visual acuity, greater hand-eye co-ordination and increased dexterity (e.g. more slender fingers and an opposing thumb). We now dominate the planet and are no longer in direct competition with other species. It is therefore hard to envisage a development in behaviour that would bring about a new phase of selection pressure for changes to the human skull, even if such altered skulls do result in enhanced brain metabolism. Furthermore, any evolutionary drive towards favouring a hole in the head wouldn't even stretch back as far as human ancestry, but rather only as far back as the point when we first stood upright some 4-5 million years ago. Standing upright increased the field of view and freed up two limbs. These considerable advantages far outweighed the disadvantage of making the blood travel uphill in order to get from the heart to the head, significant though this factor was. In fact, gravity plays a much greater role in impoverishing brain metabolism and consciousness than the sealing of the skull at the end of growth. While man was on four legs and the head was below the heart, the force of gravity and the force of the pumping heart were both pushing in the same direction. At that time, a hole in the adult skull would have had little or no effect. In other words, it was only when man stood upright that gravity was brought into play as a factor that actively hindered the blood's progress towards the capillaries of the brain. From that point on, man has been suffering from a 'double loss' of capillary content - one due to the combination of gravity and the upright position, the other due to the sealing of the skull at the end of growth. It is the seriousness of this double loss that has given the 'third eye' the chance to improve matters by negating the second of the losses. Time alone will tell whether natural selection will end up favouring a hole in the head, or whether through intellectual intervention, we as a species will choose to correct the disadvantage by creating the hole bring about a new phase of selection pressure for changes to the human skull, even if such altered skulls do result in enhanced brain metabolism. Furthermore, any evolutionary drive towards favouring a hole in the head would only stretch back as far as the point when our ancestors first stood upright some 4-5 million years ago. Standing upright increased the field of view and freed up two limbs. These considerable advantages far outweighed the disadvantage of making the blood travel uphill in order to get from the heart to the head, significant though this factor was. In fact, gravity plays a much greater role in impoverishing brain metabolism and consciousness than the sealing of the skull at the end of growth. While the ape was on four legs and the head was below the heart, the force of gravity and the force of the pumping heart were both pushing in the same direction. At that time, a hole in the adult skull would have had little or no effect. In other words, it was only when man stood upright that gravity was brought into play as a factor that actively hindered the blood's progress towards the capillaries of the brain. From that point on, man has been suffering from a 'double loss' of capillary content - one due to the combination of gravity and the upright position, the other due to the sealing of the skull at the end of growth. It is the seriousness of this double loss that has given the 'third eye' the chance to improve matters by negating the second of the losses. Time alone will tell whether natural selection will end up favouring a hole in the head, or whether through intellectual intervention, we as a species will choose to correct the disadvantage by creating the hole ourselves.

The concept of relieving cranial pressure to enhance blood flow to the brain is an entirely convincing argument in itself. Indeed, expansion of the brain's blood vessels is a primary way through which many so called 'Smart Drugs' work. But is there really any body of medical evidence conducted by neurologists outside the trepanning community to support the claim that trepanning is a sound medical practice ? If it is, then why did the practice die out in the first place?

Indeed the connection between certain drugs, (including some of the so called ‘smart drugs’)and an increase in the volume of blood in the brain is as yet untested. That is what the Foundation to Further Consciousness wishes to research. I think trepanation also increases the blood supply to the brain cells…strangely, the overall changes in the blood supply to the brain is a largely ignored field. It is known other organs perform better when more blood is directed to them, but for some reasons no one considers the possibility that the brain is the same. If it can be shown that our master organ can be made to perform better by having more blood supplied to the brain cells, that is a great leap forward. The only problem then is which technique is the best to reach this heightened state of brain metabolism. The headstand is an obvious technique but it’s a pain in the neck. What is needed is a non-toxic substance which constricts the veins a little, so brain metabolism is accelerated to the level where awareness sparkles, but not to the level where the control of behaviour becomes an issue. Whatever technique is used to get more blood in the brain is always temporary as gravity always has the final say (blood being heavier than cerebrospinal fluid). Trepanation is the only permanent way to lift the brain metabolism as what it does is to restore the systolic pressure to the brain arteries which alters the ratio between blood and cerebrospinal fluid in favour of blood….the floor of your consciousness is a little higher for the rest of your life.

That is a ridiculously long sales pitch for trepanation with no citation of objective testing for any of its claims. Has there been any test of a subject's cognative, emotional, physical state before and after? No. Has there been multiple subjects submitting to the above objective test? Obviously not. Would drilling holes in multiple subject's heads be ethical? No. Would someone stupid enough to submit to having a hole drilled in their head with no evidence to its effectiveness on brain function admit to its ineffectiveness? No. (talk) 06:29, 25 April 2019 (UTC)

Trepanation in popular culture[edit]

Is the incident in π (film) really trepanation? It seemed to me like Max was destroying the portion of his brain that knew anything about math. Trepanation only drills through the skull.   — Chris Capoccia TC 19:17, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

Looks like the pop culture section is gone from this article now, if that's what you were referring to... if you're looking for pop culture references, then I'll point you towards the TV show Dead Like Me, where the reaper Mason killed himself in a botched attempt at self-trepanation.

Placebo effect[edit]

Are there any sources that suggest that this procedure may have been successful, in some cases, as a result of the placebo effect? - Cobra Ky Flag of the United States.svg (talk, contribs) 02:02, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

There's an interview of a trepanned person who admits the effects were just placebo, and has no lasting effects. Read about him on this interview

Trepanation in film[edit]

I removed this section, for the following reasons:

- It doesn't add much to the subject (barely anything, actually);

- Not only that, but it spoils two movies in which trepanation is something of a twist;

- The section is too short, I don't think that spoiler tags could prevent the reader from glimpsing the blue names of the movies, which would ruin the very purpose of it.

Lucky me, I've watched both movies discussed in this section by the time I've read this, but others might not be this lucky, and if I were one of them I would have been quite upset after this article.

If you're gonna revert it, at least put some spoiler warning.... or, better yet, don't revert... hehehe...

Thank you for trying to destroy something I worked hard on entering. I reverted your revert, please don't do that again. I did not reveal any of the Saw 3 plot (if you've watched the movie you'd know that Jigsaws Trepanation is not a revealing factor to the storyline). If you wish to add a spoiler warning if you still think it's a spoiler, I have no problem with that. Also, please sign next time Haramzadi 00:29, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, I don't mean to be rude, man, I am sorry if you worked hard but it doesn't really add much to the article itself. I am just being objective. Also, when I watched Saw 3 I was surprised that it featured a trepanation, so, yeah, it is a spoiler. But the case in Pi is worse, since this is the climax scene. I really wanted to get rid of this, but since you're so touchie-feelie, I am gonna just put a spoiler warning. I don't know what to sign, I don't have a cool internet handle.

>>>>>>I think it was very immature and childish removing important material is aginst wikipedia principles. If you do not really want to know about an issue just dont read about it, but dont deprive people who are looking for that material just because it spoiled your movie ending. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:39, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Trepanation on ER[edit]

Trepanation is featured on an episode of ER, where Dr. Greene is on a ride-along with paramedics, and goes to a call at a house where a man is bleeding from having a trepanation procedure performed. For reference, see here: (this page does not mention the name of the procedure, but they do mention it in the episode.)

I'm not a very good writer, so if someone would like to add this to the page... --zeruty 20:37, 28 January 2007 (UTC)


The trivia (about trepanation in film and literature) is unwieldy and irrelevant to the medical procedure of trepanation. According to WP:TRIV, this should be integrated in the rest of the article. If it can't be, then I suggest that the more irrelevant facts be deleted. I'm not going to do anything for a few weeks so that those concerned with the relevant can integrate the factoids the best that they can or leave comments behind here.--Cassmus 10:25, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Just cleaned that section again, and much more lightly than I'd like. Just because trepanation is mentioned in passing, or some band called a song "trepanation," does not add value to the article. Please use some common sense when adding your favorite band's use of the word "trepanation" in a lyric or whatnot. -- (talk) 12:05, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Trepanation in modern medicine[edit]

I added some information about the trepanation for eye surgery. It still need to be completed --Lechasseur 13:47, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I clarified that entry, since presumably the corneal transplant process does not involve any boring through the skull, only the eye.--cjllw ʘ TALK 07:18, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Following on, I got to this page with the redirect on Trephining - which is also used used for the procedure in which a hole is burned/drilled through a nail to release trapped blood (subungual haematoma), would this be an appropriate section to include it? Dlegros (talk) 02:13, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Improperly categorized images in this article (trepanation)[edit]

The image entitled "1525 engraving of trepanation by Peter Treveris" is incorrectly categorized as trepanation. The text of the original edition by Hieronymus Brunschwig contains the following caption: "This instrumente is for to worke upon the heed/whan the brayne pan is beten in/for to lyfte it up agayne." Considering that the term "brayne pan" refers to the skull, Brunschwig is clearly illustrating the repair of a depressed skull fracture. This is a different surgical procedure than trepenation and the image only serves to muddle the difference. I recommend that this image be removed from this article. Grafereid (talk) 15:14, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

I copied this comment to the image's description page at Wikicommons, for reference. Power.corrupts (talk) 07:23, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Movie in external link[edit]

The movie Hole in the Head is an inappropriate external link. The link is to an advertisement about the movie, in which a trailer can be watched and the DVD purchased. At best, the movie could possibly be used as a source if proof could be found that it's reliable, which I doubt is forthcoming. Per links to avoid guidelines, number 5 - the webpage exists to sell the movie. It adds nothing informative or encyclopedic. WLU (talk) 22:55, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Marked clean-up tag - {{cleanup-reorganize}

I was somewhat disappointed after reading this article. Trepanation was narrowly defined in terms of letting evil spirits out, and not as primitive attempts to emergency surgical procedures after damages from the the weaponry at the time - for which is reasonable support, both in the Weber quotation and in the refs poster earlier on this discussion page Talk:Trepanation #Addresses? - so I changed that. The rather marginal, but certainly puzzling, pratice of Voluntary trepanation takes up a disproportionately large part of the article bread text; as does perhaps also the text on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, although this section is more informative. I have little specialist knowledge of the subject but believe that the article needs an overhaul in structure, content and form. This article appears to have grown as a result of a large number of smaller incremental edits without overall perspective. I have tagged it accordingly. Power.corrupts (talk) 09:18, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Speculation about motives of prehistorical peoples[edit]

This type of speculation seems pretty common among physical anthropologists:

Evidence of trepanation has been found in prehistoric human remains from Neolithic times onward. Cave paintings indicate that people believed the practice would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders.[1] The bone that was trepanned was kept by the prehistoric people and probably worn as a charm to keep evil spirits away.

However, it really has no place in a scientific or encyclopedic discussion. We really have absolutely no basis on which to speculate what was done with the bones, for example, that they were "worn as a charm to keep evil spirits away". This is just making stuff up. Should be deleted unless someone has specific evidence (of what kind would that be in prehistoric peoples anyway????) that these bone fragments were worn as charms to keep evil spirits away.

This is pure balderdash. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Somekindofusername (talkcontribs) 07:21, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. --M. H. L. in S. C. * Talk 11:40, 31 March 2011‎

Alternate meaning of word[edit]

Forced emigration into slavery. If someone from Europe was kidnapped and sent to the colonies and sold into slavery, they were said to have been trepanned, whether or not anything had been done to their skulls. This is the sense in which one most often finds the word in literature, especially historical fiction. Shouldn't there be some mention of this somewhere in the article? --M. H. L. in S. C. * Talk 12:32, 27 February 2011

Do you have a citation from a reliable source for this meaning of the word? Also, please sign-in, you're editing under an IP address. Beyond My Ken (talk) 17:38, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Aside from the many usages in novels? (Eg., Kidnapped and The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson.) The only thing I could find in terms of a reference work is the Dictionary of the Scots Language here, where it lists the word as meaning simply "a trick". But this is the context ("forced emigration into slavery") the word is always used in in literature. --M. H. L. in S. C. * Talk 11:40, 31 March 2011‎

Pop culture[edit]

There are too many pop culture references in this article. I would suggest this as a minimum reduction. Nikkimaria (talk) 04:37, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Saying "there are too many" is realy not sufficient grounds, nor is listing your edit. Please describe why you suggest these changes, with specificity. Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:41, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, to begin with, almost none of the pop-culture entries have secondary sources supporting their inclusion. Secondly, see WP:IINFO; simple listing of pop references shouldn't take up over a quarter of the article, as it does here. Really, we should be culling more. Third, where pop-culture references are appropriate, in addition to being discussed by secondary sources, they are central to the work being mentioned, as opposed to being mentioned in passing. Things like the Ghostbusters quote, for example, do not meet that criterion. Also, neither of the songs removed are about trepanning, they simply use the word in the title. There appears to be no criteria for inclusion here beyond simple mention. Nikkimaria (talk) 04:47, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
LIke plot sections in book and film articles, each popcult entry is sourced by the media item it refers to, since that item can be examined to see if the entry is accurate, which fulfills the requirements of WP:V. For quite a while, the standard has been that if an entry is straightforward description, and does not contain any analysis or interpretation, than an additional source is not required.

Your second point, that there are too many, is irrelevant. If they are all appropriate, then how much of the article they "take up" makes no difference whatsoever. Pop culture items are not "lesser" than any other facts pertinent to the subject.

Your final point is, in fact, the only relevant one. If there are entries which are simply passing references, then they should be removed. Please list the entries which you believe are passing references and should be considered for removal. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:00, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Regarding your first point, you've misunderstood: I don't assert that these entities don't exist or aren't accurate; absent evidence to the contrary, I'm quite willing to believe they do and are. My concern about lack of sourcing is in regards to establishing the relative significance of these entries, as per WP:IPC and WP:IINFO. To the second, the concept of due weight applies. Regarding your third: take the diff provided as an initial list. Nikkimaria (talk) 05:31, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Again, there is no requirement for a third party source, and I would prefer you list you objections here, where the discussion is taking place. If it is important that these things be removed, then you should be able to spare the time to discuss them specifically. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:40, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
To justify inclusion, there is a need for secondary sources. The diff was provided here, at the beginning of this discussion. Do you disagree with any of the entries removed? Nikkimaria (talk) 05:43, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I'll admit, I'm with Nikkimaria on this one. The reason that secondary sources are important in this context are that they enable us to avoid OR, and ensure appropriate balance. As it stand, the list includes many items which are not mentioned in connection to this topic in secondary sources - the only link is that they contain the word. Ernest Hemingway's short story, for example, does include the word "trepanned": but having looked through various commentaries, I've yet to find a commentator that draws this fact out or places any significance on it. Why should this article? I've looked (not exhaustively) to find a secondary source that talks about the significance of trepanning to modern music, but drawn a blank. I'd probably go further than Nikkimaria in culling the list, on the basis that I haven't yet seen any secondary sources that would suggest that trepanning has particular relevance/significance to popular culture. Hchc2009 (talk) 05:54, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
(ec) The question is not whether I agree or disagree, it could be either way given your reasoning, which I'm still waiting to hear. So far, you've talked in generalities, I would like to know specificially why you believe entries should be removed -- the edit provides only the things you want deleted, and not the reasons why. In the spirit of collegiality, a list of the entries you think should be removed and an explanation of why would be appreciated. Doing so would be much less time-consuming than this discussion has already been. Thanks. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:56, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but you are both quite incorrect. When including a commonplace fact in an article, I provide a source which shows that the fact is verifiable, as required by policy, but I do not have to provide an additional source to show that the commonplace (i.e. not controversial) fact is relevant. These popcult entries are commonplace facts about the existence of trepanning within our popular culture, they are sourced by the media items, they do not require an additional source to say "this says something important about the subject." That would be ludicrous, as it would decimate popcult sections, just as requirimg additional sources for other commonplace facts would decimate the encyclopedia in general.

Since we already agree that editorial decisions are sufficient to separate the wheat from the chaff, I am simply awaiting some argumentation about each entry so that a consensus can be reached about whether they are relevant or not. Such decisions are fully within normal editorial discretion and do not require additional sourcing. Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:02, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

If it helps you, I've given one example above. Ernest Hemingway's short story does contain the word trepanned, but this tells us nothing about trepanning in general, and is not commented upon in secondary works about Hemingway. Are you happy with it being deleted? Hchc2009 (talk) 06:10, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Does trepanning play a significant part in the story? Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:17, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
No. Hchc2009 (talk) 06:25, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Really? Someone gets a hole drilled in their head and it's not significant in the story? How so? Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:27, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
There's no secondary literature on this, so this is just my opinion and total OR, but probably because no trepanning occurs in the story at all. Hchc2009 (talk) 06:31, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
It's only "OR" if you use it in an article -- we are allowed to use our knowledge to make judgment calls, that's why we're editors and not robots.

From what you are describing, the Hemingway entry would appear to be a passing reference and therefore should be removed from the section. Thanks, that's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for so that these decisions can be made. Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:40, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

You'll similarly find that the Dance Gavin Dance album Happiness, Architect album All Is Not Lost, The Jesus Lizard album Shot and The Machine Head album Supercharger make only passing reference to the term trepanning, with it adding nothing to the overall artistic meaning of their works. Hchc2009 (talk) 06:49, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Just to be clear, you're reporting this from personal knowledge of these albums? Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:56, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
BMK, look at WP:IINFO: "merely being true, or even verifiable, does not automatically make something suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia. To provide encyclopedic value, data should be put in context with explanations referenced to independent sources". Look at WP:IPC: "Although some references may be plainly verified by primary sources, this does not demonstrate the significance of the reference...If a cultural reference is genuinely significant it should be possible to find a reliable secondary source that supports that judgment". The point of a good IPC section is to demonstrate the cultural significance of a concept via sourced commentary. Would removing entries not discussed in secondary literature reduce some IPC sections? Yes - and that's a good thing. Nikkimaria (talk) 14:34, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

I remain with Nikkimaria on the interpretation of the policy on this one. A good IPC section is great to read (and fun to write), but a bad one is... less so, and the policies are there to help encourage decent, sourced writing. Some of the items in this case are really questionable. We've dealt with the one in which the only connection was the word appearing on the page (NB: and thanks for removing it!). The songs I've noted above; the link between Architect's track and this article baffles me, beyond the name, for example; Jesus Lizard's track similarly isn't, um, exactly closely linked to the topic. And so on - I'm probably not alone, as I can't find any secondary literature to suggest any links. I'm not sure what the presence of the brochure in 30 Rock tells us about trepanation either, and while I think that Ghostbusters was a great film, the throwaway reference in one of its less famous lines doesn't feel of high encylopaedic value. I don't think I'm alone, as I'm struggling to find any secondary literature - reliable or unreliable - that comments on them. I have similar concerns about most of the rest to be honest. Hchc2009 (talk) 17:08, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

As there's been no further discussion for a couple of days, I've reinstated my suggested preliminary cull. Any thoughts on what else should go or stay? Either way, some secondary sources should be added. Nikkimaria (talk) 03:44, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

The case of Michael Schumacher[edit]

I'm very angry, because due to the lack of the use of trepanation, brain-injured people like Michael Schumacher end up with total brain damage still nowadays.

It's clear what happens in case of a brain hematoma: Blood is mixing with brain liquid, therefore altering the brains functioning, and furthermore due to the bleeding the pressure in the head rises and destroys the brain cells, until the vital functions of lung and heart stop and the person dies. By nature, all humans with a brain hematoma die because the brain becomes mush.

By opening the cranium there is A.) a hole where blood and brain liquid can flow out, and B.) more oxygen may get into the brain. As a result of the lowered pressure in the head, the brain cells are not crushed and any person with a brain hematoma survives (if there was no brain infection).

Now, we have the case of Michael Schumacher, it is actually the 9/11 for the surgeons. So, maybe they will again do what successfull brain surgeons did for centuries? To save peoples live instead of being a smart-ass and calling trepanation a "pseudoscience"?

By the way another technique in case of hematoma is cooling-down the brain. But the problem then is that it may not work at all, moreover the immune system deactivates and the patient may die of infections. Michael Schumacher was cooled down and got infections, too.

So why not just drilling a hole into a head? Nowadays, it would be easy to put the bone as shunt again into the hole after the hematoma is cured. And patients like Michael Schuhmacher would survive - without brain damage. -- (talk) 23:53, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Article talk pages are for discussing specific ways to improve the page rather than a forum for discussion about the subject. Are there changes you'd like to see to the page? (Other than changing it to say "it's common practice now" :) )? --— Rhododendrites talk |  07:54, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Unifying hypothesis[edit]

Recently the hypothesis has been put forward with significant evidence and logic that ancient trepanation in Neolithic times throughout the world was carried out to resuscitate ill members of the tribe and to bring back to life obtunded stone age hunters and their families. I think this new information could and should be added to this entry to improve it: Faria MA. Neolithic trepanation decoded- A unifying hypothesis: Has the mystery as to why primitive surgeons performed cranial surgery been solved?. Surg Neurol Int 07-May-2015;6:72. Available from: (talk) 16:59, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

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