Holes in the Head

Pronunciation: tri-'pan
Inflected Form(s): tre·panned; tre·pan·ning
Etymology: Middle English, from trepane / trephine
Date: 15th century
1 : to use a trephine (on the skull)
2 : to remove a disk or cylindrical core (as from metal for testing)
     - trep·a·na·tion - noun

— Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

Strange things indeed!

Yes, I've got a hole in me 'ead, in case you haven't noticed! I didn't make it on purpose, of course. In July 1996, I walked up behind a guy in a long black leather coat in front of my apartment building. He spun around quickly and clobbered me, and took the money out of my pocket. When I came to three days later in the hospital, I had Frankenstein stitches across my forehead, and a hole where the doctors had removed many little pieces of broken skull. They told me they left a hole because there was no medical reason not to, but that I could return to have it filled in "for cosmetic purposes" if I wanted to. Thanks, but no thanks, was my reaction.

I've since learned a bit about other people with holes in their skulls, and some of the purported effects of this cranial modification, called Trepanation.

I was first tipped off to trepanation by the web site of a local band called Perforated Head. There I noticed a link to The People With Holes In Their Heads, about some 20th-century trepanation pioneers.

This led me to TREPAN.COM, the site for ITAG (International Trepanation Advocacy Group). This site formerly presented the history of trepanation going back to ancient times, modern medical theory which attempts to explain the benefits of this procedure, and accounts of modern-day trepanning. As of 2009, the organization has focused on research in pursuit of scientific evidence of the advantages of trepanation, and the website is undergoing reorganization. Since making contact with the group, I have appeared in an interview on Discovery Channel, and a program on Swiss TV on the subject.

In this video, Pete Halvorsen, the head of ITAG, describes the procedure by which he drilled the hole in his head years ago.

While I don't personally recommend the procedure, and can't imagine having a hole made by choice, I can't help but respect the level of faith required to undergo such surgery (especially do-it-yourself) in hope of achieving its alleged benefits. As you can see in this video, the opening provides certain breathing room for the contents of the cranial cavity.

Meanwhile, I might as well check out the effects of my incidental trepanation. I'm feeling pretty good so far...

In February 2003, a news crew from WB-11 News (NYC) came to my home to interview me about the hole in my head. I agreed, and talked to them for a half hour or so. I wasn't told that it was not for an in-depth informative piece, but for a segment of the 10 o'clock news entitled "Weird NY," and it aired on Feb. 21, rather significantly edited for entertainment purposes.

Here's an April 2006 interview with me by Nichola Saminather of the Columbia News Service entitled Something missing in your life? Try drilling a hole in your head.

July 2007: My friend Ana Anchez interviewed me for a New School video project. For yet another video about my hole watch this 5-minute piece.

More Resources

A Hole In The Head
An hour long documentary about trepanation

The Hole to Luck
Interview (1966) with first self-trepanner Dr. Bart Huges
"I feel as I felt before the age of fourteen."

The Auger - the Journal of Trepan Research

Lunch with Heather Perry - Neurophilosophy
2008 Interview with a self-trepanee