Tattoos are one of the most common body modifications known to man. They have a rich history and have been found on prehistoric corpses dating back to 3,250 BC. But there is a much more extreme, much less well-known body modification that predates tattoos by over 3,000 years – trepanation. Trepanation is the act of drilling or scraping a hole into the human skull. Let’s start off with the most basic question raised by this – “Why the fuck would anyone do that?”
Though bogged down with the jargon of pseudoscience, modern proponents of this practice cite an “increase in cranial compliance” and an increase in “brain blood volume” as benefits of drilling holes into their own skulls. Bart Huges bored a hole in his head with a dentist's drill in 1965 as a publicity stunt, claiming that this increase in brain blood volume enhances cerebral metabolism. There is, of course, no scientific study that supports these claims.
Fielding says that trepanation improves cerebral circulation, allowing the body’s “full heartbeat” to be expressed in a way that cannot occur after our cranial bones fuse together. Fielding is such a staunch believer in the benefits of trepanation that she turned it into a political platform, having run twice for British Parliament on a platform of “Trepanation for the National Health.” With both efforts combined, she garnered a mere 179 votes.
Though it has fallen quite out of vogue since prehistoric times, the practice of trepanning lives on through the likely misguided beliefs of an
enlightened, underground few. And while it may never rival tattooing in
terms of cultural visibility, those who choose to perform this ancient
body modification make themselves much more unique than the inked