Trepanation film clip

The 3-minute film clip below is definitely not for the squeamish. It comes from a documentary called A Hole in the Head, made in 1998, and shows a Kisi medicine man performing the "operation of the skulls".

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The procedure known as trepanation, in which a hole is scraped or drilled in the skull, is an ancient form of neurosurgery that has been performed since the late Stone Age. Exactly why ancient peoples performed trepanation has remained a matter of debate: some researchers argue that it was…
The operation of Trepan, from Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery: Trepan, Hernia, Amputation, Aneurism and Lithotomy, by Charles Bell, 1815. (John Martin Rare Book Room at the University of Iowa's Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.)Trepanation, or trephination (both derived from…
Harvey Cushing (1869-1939) is considered to be the father of modern neurological surgery. In the early part of the 20th century, he developed basic techniques and instruments for operating on the brain and, as a result, founded the discipline as a distinct surgical speciality. Before Cushing began…
Here's some fascinating footage from 1942, showing Drs. James Watts and Walter Freeman performing a prefrontal leucotomy. The footage accompanies a short article called Lobotomy Revisited, and, like last week's trepanation film clip, is not for the squeamish.) The procedure shown in the film is the…

Amazing video, thanks so much. How on earth did you find it?

Amazing footage. Quite hard to watch - not just the procedure but the mishapen heads of the other patients. It's hard to believe that a simple headache could lead to such an operation.

Does not necessary have to be headache. I think in this case it's for a spiritual reason. The shape of the head is for a purpose.

Pretty ethnocentric. It's hard to believe this documentary was made only ten years ago.

By Philosopher for Hire (not verified) on 14 Feb 2008 #permalink

The producers of A Hole in the Head uploaded it to YouTube a few weeks ago; they have a YouTube channel which contains several other clips from the documentary.

The footage in this clip is actually taken from a 1964 mondo film called Kwaheri.