It is believed that Trepanation is the oldest medical practice in the history of the world; second only to circumcision. The general concept of trepanation is to create a hole in the skull and leave it open, thereby increasing the volume of blood flowing to the brain. The scientific theory behind this practice is that the fact that man walks upright, with the brain above the heart, results in decreased blood flow to the brain. Babies, it is understood, are born with a hole in their skull, which is commonly referred to as the "soft spot" on the baby's head, and with time this hole seals off. Trepanation attempts to fix this "defect" of the human body, and it is believed by a sect of people that this practice can result in a higher form of consciousness and increase brain activity.

In older times, it was considered a form of blood-letting and often used as a treatment for injuries and wounds on the head. In 300 B.C Hippocrates, one of the first people to claim that mental illness can be cured, suggested the use of Trepanation to do so. It was believed by many that mental illness was a result of a small stone lodged inside the brain that later went on to be called "the stone of madness." Others believed that an evil spirit possessed the afflicted individual. Whatever the belief, Trepanation was considered a cure. The hole in the skull was considered the most effective way to allow a small stone or evil spirit in the body to escape. The practice continued well into the Middle Ages and even the 20th century, but whether it has a positive effect on those afflicted by developmental or intellectual disabilities is a question that yet remain unanswered.

In today's world, most of the medical community remains highly skeptical about the practice of Trepanation. This is not to say that the practice is dead entirely. In 1965, a scientist called Dr. Hughes trepanned himself after years of research and experimentation. He later took it upon himself to educate people about the practice and claimed trepanation allowed him to enjoy a much-heightened state of consciousness. Suffering from severe depression, a young man called Peter Halvorson seek the treatment of Trepanation from Dr. Hughes and later established the International Trepanation Advocacy Group on 1997. Since then, this organization has been instrumental in researching the procedure and informing people about it. The organization even has a group of doctors who perform trepanation on anyone over the age of 18 who volunteers to undergo the procedure.

Most of the medical community, however, strongly rejects the idea of trepanation and believe keeping the skull open could lead to several medical complications such as blood clots and infections. Even though, Trepanation is not yet completely dead; it is widely considered a prehistoric practice that has no place in the modern world, and at best is a highly experimental procedure with a lot of risks.

Author's Bio: 

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education, abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental Disabilities.