Self-exercises: pierce your head to experiment with consciousness

In 1967, Joe Mellen, a 30-year-old British citizen, he tried to pierce the skull with a hand drill (Like a corkscrew) while drugged with acid. After failing on his first attempt, he repeated the procedure the following year with an identical result. Finally, in 1970, he managed to make a hole in the upper front part with an electric drill. But the story does not end there.

In the same year, his wife, artist Amanda Feilding, 27, also pierced his skull, which she did with an electric dentist’s trick. The proceedings were recorded by Mellen, resulting in something currently considered a cult video. “Heartbeat in the Brain”, which is the name of the band, can be viewed on Youtube and is not apprehensive material. The reason is the potential hypothesis that this absurd practice has to do with the desire to “expand the mind”In the same way that you can experiment with certain types of drugs.

This story is one of many examples of how magical thinking, irrational experimentation, and the urge to have supposedly cathartic experiences can lead to advocating a philosophy of life based on a mixture of suggestion and risk of dying in strange circumstances. .

    The origin of the story: Bart Huges

    Both were influenced by the Dutch doctor Bart Huges, an expert in psychoactive substances (mainly LSD), who in 1962 claimed that the volume of cerebral blood determines a person’s state of consciousness. According to Hughes’ theory, the adoption of the elevated posture in the evolution of hominids took place a negative impact at the cognitive and even physiological level: When walking upright, the human heart has to deal with the force of gravity to carry blood upward to the brain, which ultimately leads to reduced blood flow to the brain mass. Or so thought Huges.

    It is for this first reason that Hughes advocated drilling: piercing the skull (without going through the meninges) to supposedly increase the amount of blood that remains in the brain. The second reason is the sealing of the skull which takes place in men between the ages of 18 and 21. According to the author, before this period, the infant’s skull is only partially closed, which supposedly promotes greater blood supply to the brain, and greater irrigation would promote greater awareness and creativity in the individual to operate the brain with better performance.

    What Huges’ theory sums up is the concept of Ego, which for him was the system that distributes blood throughout the body. Blood is not sent evenlyAnd from his perspective, the fact that the part of the brain that receives the most blood is the area of ​​abstract speech and thought causes other areas of the brain to receive less.

    It has to do with how evolutionary speech is the part that has monopolized the most recent development of the brain in evolutionary terms. Still according to the author, making an orifice in the skull would allow a greater entry of flow and a more balanced and homogeneous irrigation throughout the brain.

    The cases of Mellen and Feilding

    Going back to our story: Joe Mellen met Bart Huges in 1965 in Ibiza, in the midst of the whirlwind of the Beat movement and the beginnings of acid consumption. By that time, Dr Huges had already pierced the skull himself. When Mellen met his ideas, he was experimenting with LSD and other potent drugs.

    For her part, when Amanda Feilding met Dr Huges, she had just studied the religions of different countries and historical eras, as well as the mysticisms and initiation rites of various cultures. It was only 5 years later that the members of the marriage decided to practice trepanation, thus mixing the desire to experience new altered states of consciousness, and a fascination for ritual moments.

    Amanda Feilding and Joe Mellen both come from wealthy English families. Feilding was born into a family of English aristocrats and Mellen studied at Oxford and left his postgraduate studies (and a practically sedentary life) to devote himself to life. a life free from many of the responsibilities typical of western adults.


    When asked about the interview experience in 1970, they both agreed that it was an operation with satisfactory results; Amanda says the whole process didn’t take more than half an hour. At the end of work, he wrapped his head in a scarf, ate a steak to retrieve the lost iron, and went to a party. Literally.

    It is precisely Amanda who describes in more detail what one experiences when her skull is pierced: at the very moment when the hole was made, she experienced it as “the arrival of a tide”. He said he noticed a feeling of growth, slow and smooth.

    Joe’s experience was a bit more bumpy because during the procedure his drill rope was broken and he had to go downstairs to have it fixed with a towel over his head. After a few hours, after finishing, a feeling of lightness invaded him, according to him. He explains all of this in his memoir, Bore Hole.

    In several interviews, they both agree that the ultimate goal of trepanation is to open the brain “to the heartbeat”, Heartbeat, which they claim is deprived of the brain with the skull seal in adolescence.

    How do they live today?

    Feilding currently runs an art gallery in London and is also the director of the Beckley Foundation, a Think Tank dedicated to the study of consciousness and all of these tools to modify it, both psychoactive substances and meditation. , Others. The study of the physical mechanisms to achieve altered states of consciousness, in short.

    Joe Mellen gives lectures in which he gives the testimony of his youth, collected in Bore Hole, recently updated. The book is a real claim in favor of the use of psychoactive substances and the practice of trepanation. Although Feilding and Mellen are both openly in favor of this practice, they strongly recommend that no one does this operation alone. Feilding herself ran for the UK Parliament with a promise to secure a free social security borehole in her program. This is not a joke.

    What we can learn from all of this

    Those who advocate trepanation as something commendable they argue that it is a practice that has been practiced since the dawn of civilization and which must therefore be by force beneficial. Experts in the field place the beginnings of this operation in 5000 BC and even before, and there is archaeological evidence that this was a fairly common practice since the Neolithic era. Needless to say, this argument has little experience as there are much older traditions such as stoning, animal abuse or domestic violence and therefore should not be upheld. The classic argument that “we have to keep doing it because we’ve always done it this way” is flatly rejected.

    Regarding the improvement in health that it can have, the liberation of the mind and consciousness, it must be remembered that no verifiable evidence has been found in any scientific study to support this thesis and that modern neurology of which it has no medical basis, in addition to being obviously a very dangerous practice, and potentially painful or even fatalEspecially since people who practice self-drilling do not do it for medical purposes.

    The suggestion, the fact that thinking that drilling changes the way we experience things makes us really feel different (at best, just that), acts as the driving force behind a set of totally irrational beliefs. This is why it is important not to indulge in practices contraindicated by medicine with regard to a set of organs as important as the brain.

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