“I Drilled a Hole in My Head…”

Darryl Revok

As members of the Church of Release will tell you, and as you have doubtless heard from your reputable friends, there is no greater relief and source of lasting enlightenment than having a hole in your head.

It is called trepanation, from the Greek trypanon (“a borer”), and it is one of the oldest forms of medical intervention known today. The trepanation is a classically simple operation— so simple, in fact, that you can perform it on yourself with some minor preparation (this is not advice): get a drill; press the drill into your skull until you’re through the bone (being careful not to press into the brain itself); and, supposing you survive the process, enjoy life as a newly minted member of Homo Sapiens Correctus.

Wait! wait! before you run off to your hardware store or garage, we at the Kook Science Resistance have compiled the following summary of the ancient (and modern) practice of trepanation for your further study. We again caution that this is not medical advice, but that, as always, we leave it to you to judge the truth for yourself . . .

“People said his brain was infected by devils…”

Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Operation for the Stone (The Cure of Folly)'

“Since science and magic are in their early stages indistinguishable, it is difficult to differentiate between ritual or magical and therapeutic motives underlying the practice of trepanation.”

“Trepanation in Ancient Times” [1]

It is uncertain why, as far back as the Neolithic, our ancient ancestors first began to make holes into their own skulls. Some have argued it was the earliest form of medicine, a simple but effective means of relieving pressure caused by injury. Others suggest more religious purpose, from the purging of evil spirits to the opening of the third eye.

Whatever the intended purpose, it has been established by archaeology that the practice arose in cultures across the world, from Mesoamerica to Africa. Hippocrates himself, acclaimed father of Western medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath, taught and detailed the best methods of trepanation.

However, as useful as this technique may have been considered in times past, it was discarded by later medical authorities, classed as little more than superstition. Enlightened People, it seemed, found the very idea of cutting holes in the skull to be, rather than a cure for malady or madness, a very mad thing to do, an operation best left to the primitives and ancients.

“Homo Sapiens Correctus”

Bart Huges trepanning himself, 1965.

“This is the story of how I came to drill a hole in my skull to get permanently high.”

Joe Mellen, “Bore Hole” (1970) [2]

A person may be forgiven, in our modern age with our greatly expanded knowledge, for thinking it insane to believe putting a hole in one’s own head is a good idea, and it perhaps will not shock persons of such thinking that Bart Huges, on reporting to the hospital ten days after trepanning himself in 1965, was held for three weeks by medical authorities on suspicion of being schizophrenic.

He was not, after multiple tests of his competence, found to be insane— though one can forgive them for not finding him to be sane in the most conventional sense. An early student of LSD, Huges had come to the conclusion that a state of permanently altered consciousness could be achieved by increasing blood flow in the brain, and that the simplest way to enact such a change would be to make a hole in the skull, an adult reforming of the fontanelle. And so he did. With a drill.

People did not line up to join his cause.

Joe Mellen was one of the few who did, a man undeterred by the flinching shudder that many of his fellow users experienced at the thought of a non-metaphorical third eye gap. In 1966, with the encouragement of Huges and the assistance of his partner, Amanda Feilding, he haphazardly attempted the procedure with a hand-turned trepanning device; and again, in 1970, unsatisfied with the earlier attempt, he performed it with an electric drill.

At last, after one drill repair and a great deal of blood, the hole was completely through. Recounting the experience, Mellen would later report: “Steadily, almost imperceptibly, over the next four hours I felt myself get higher and higher. I got higher than I had thought possible. I felt so light and free. It is very hard to put in words the feeling of change, but I felt very relaxed, as if everything would fall into place now.”

Amanda Feilding, cutting her hair in preparation for her self-trepanation.

If one puts the adult norm of consciousness at zero and the LSD users at one hundred, then the childhood level [is] attained by trepanation and that is thirty…

Amanda Feilding

As witness to the change in Mellen following his second, more successful, trepanning attempt, Feilding was convinced to perform one on herself. This time the pair were more carefully prepared, Feilding using a dental drill, Mellen documenting the procedure on film for use in what would become their pro-trepanation piece “Heartbeat in the Brain” (now unavailable after limited showings; segments can be seen in the 1998 documentary “A Hole in the Head”)

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, in the United States, Peter Halvorson was suffering from a depression for which he could find no relief. Numerous sessions with psychologists, drug trials, other odd therapies offered him no respite. Such was his condition that when, in the late 1960s, as he met with Bart Huges in Amsterdam, Halvorson found himself haltingly receptive to the theories promulgated by the now-father of modern trepanation.

And so, in 1972, like Mellen and Feilding before him, Halvorson drilled a hole into his skull. Of the experience, he has said: “I could hear a gurgling, and I could feel the shifting of volume in the brain water. There was a warm feeling as my metabolism cranked up a bit.” [3]

The trepanation, it appeared, had cured him.

The 1970s and 80s saw a small movement of the successfully trepanned attempt to promote its methods to the general public, but their efforts to spread Huges’s ideas were generally unsuccessful. Feilding ran twice for Parliament in the UK on the platform of trepanation— she lost.

Today, Feilding remains the primary proponent for the study of trepanation, her Beckley Foundation being one of the few to seriously continue the push to have the surgery reconsidered by medical experts. The method remains a curiosity, given little serious treatment or consideration for study. It has, for all purposes, been left to the kooks.

“Trepanation for the National Health”

If Amanda Feilding had her way in 1979, what benefits would be accrued by those members of the British public who elected to have a trepanation performed?

According to the Trepanation Trust, once the skull has been reopened, the patient experiences a “[restoration of] the full pulsation which was lost when the skull sealed. The pulse wave then blows up the brain capillaries with blood to the level of childhood, accelerating brain metabolism and empowering the brain to permanently regain its youthful level. An equivalent volume of cerebrospinal fluid is squeezed out to make room for the extra blood and thereafter the ratio between the two fluid volumes in the brain is altered in favour of blood. An increase in energy and well being is the result. With more contact between capillaries and brain cells the brain functions more efficiently.” [4]

Trepanation has further been promoted as a cure to migraine headaches, chronic depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, stopping the voices from entering your head . . .

To date, none of the suggested benefits have been proved to the satisfaction of the medical community. Would-be trepanners are left to their own devices in pursuit of such interests.

Michael Ironside as Darryl Revok in 'Scanners' (1981)


Unproved, archaic, and even laughable to modern medical thinking, the science of trepanation will continue to hold the fascination of the open-minded, as it has through human history. It may be that the learned doctors of our world will once again embrace it as a solution and benefit in the future, but, for now, we can but watch those intrepid questioners and questers who seek to broaden our knowledge of human health, and pray our heads are not exploded when the trepanned clairvoyant onslaught of tomorrow rushes over the horizon of time to seize the world from us with their psychic scanning powers.

  1. Trepanation in ancient times (TrepanationGuide.com)
  2. Joseph Mellen, “Bore Hole” (1970, English, PDF): “Bore Hole is a prose account of how [Mellen] became a teacher of brainbloodvolume and the Ego.”
  3. “You Need It Like a Hole in the Head?” by Michael Colton (Washington Post, May 31, 1998)
  4. Archive.org stored copy of Trepanation.com (2001), “Why Trepanation?” and the follow-up “Trepanation & the Mechanism of Brain blood volume”

The following materials provide a far more comprehensive look into the science and history of trepanation.

7 thoughts on ““I Drilled a Hole in My Head…””

  1. Ahaha, “open-minded”. zing! I wonder how this occured to someone in the first place? Why would it seem like a good idea to put youreslf through such agony? just weird…

    1. John Verano has suggested the most likely explanation (for prehistoric trepanning) is that “trepanation was emergency surgery to remove shattered bits of bone from fractured skulls and clean out the blood that often pools under the skull after a blow to the head.” It seems like a fair argument.

      As to how it would have occurred to Huges, et al, that it was a good idea: acid. Lots of sugar sweet acid.

  2. I am the person interviewed by Bryan Henderson and I can assure you ACID was not an influence on my decision. I’m not crazy or stupid either. I’ve since then worked as an accountant, a tattoo artist, and a chef, travelled the world with a band playing in 9 different countries, and had wonderful relationships with a great many people, so I can assure being a ‘wacko’ or an acid head have nothing to do with this.

  3. One more thing, blood pooling under the skull, or between the meninges and the skull, is called a hematoma. Trepanation CAUSES this, it does not eliminate or reduce it. I’ve read about John Verano’s research. It is very interesting, and I’m sure a great many trepanations were emergency operations, but suffice it to say a great many of ALL operations of ALL kinds are emergency operations. I however, experienced this personally, and I’m sure even back to the Peruvians of the late 1800’s people were talking about how they felt afterward. Surely others, even then, were curious.

    1. Hematomas are not good things. They’re caused by trauma to the head, not by trepanations. These surgeries are, in fact, performed by licensed neurosurgeons to alleviate the pressure build up caused by blood pooling under the skull. Increased intracranial pressure is likely to cause the brain to herniate. Brain herniation is deadly.

      Loads of sane people believe loads of pseudoscience. That’s just how the world works. Although I hesitate to even call this “pseudoscience”, as I have not seen any scientific basis for any of this that taking a intro level biology class wouldn’t quickly disprove. Having a hole in your skull isn’t going to change gravity to increase blood flow to the brain. Children have different ways of looking at the world not because of blood flow, but because their brains have not developed fully. Feeling extremely high for several hours after trepanation is undoubtedly a result of the dangerous amount of blood lost during such an operation.

      In short, personal anecdotes mean little more than anecdotes about placebo pills. When I see some reliable studies or, at least, if no one wants to research this, hear some rational scientific explanation for the validity of this, I’ll take it into consideration.

  4. Keep an open-mind. What if this is primitive attempt at entering the 4th dimension?? Have you seen DMT- the spirit molecule? Man knows very little of the brain. DMT is in every living thing (yea?), so maybe *god is in us and everywhere, (from the beginning), and when we die our brain/soul/ghost continues on, Our body could be our vessel, our brain runs on ATP/electricity(?), and our body produces that for us, but we could possibly sustain it once the body dies.
    That is having an open-mind, which I have about the brain, and why I am pursuing Neuroscience.

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