An Interview with the Woman Who Drilled a Hole in Her Head to Open Up Her Mind
There are plenty of ways to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Most of them involve ingesting some kind of psychoactive substance, or getting in a white tank filled with water, or sitting in front of a flashing light while listening to trance music. But as far as I know, only one requires you to drill a hole into your forehead.
Trepanation, a procedure where a small hole is drilled into the skull and left to heal naturally, can reportedly produce a prolonged positive effect on the trepanned individual’s mood and overall state of well-being. There’s little hard scientific evidence that doing this has any tangible benefits, but people have been doing it for tens of thousands of years, so there has to be a reason they keep coming back to the tried and true method of inserting pieces of metal into the front of their skulls.
Amanda Feilding is the director of the Beckley Foundation, an organization that for over a decade has been carrying out research into consciousness. Her work spans the entire mind-altering spectrum, from cannabis and LSD to Buddhist meditation, and she’s been looking into the physiological effects of trepanation for a long time. In the early 1970s, Amanda trepanned herself when she couldn’t find a doctor to do it for her, and has since become somewhat of an authority on the practice.
I visited Amanda’s home on the outskirts of Oxford, England, to talk about trepanation and how she carried out the operation on herself.
Amanda in 2012.
VICE: So Amanda, can you give me a short history of trepanation?
Amanda Feilding: Trepanation is the oldest surgical operation in the world, dating back to at least 10,000 BC, and has been carried out by independent civilizations in nearly every continent on the planet. From South America to Neolithic Europe, the practice has a rich and diverse history. Shiva, the Hindu god of altered consciousness, was trepanned; it was done by monks in Tibet and up to the modern day in Africa.
What do you mean by “modern day”?
The 20th century. I knew someone from Nigeria in the 60s who said that, when he was 13, the “hip” boys of the village went out with the shaman and got trepanned.
New Ways to Have Sex
Let half a stick of butter melt in your mouth. This can take a long time. Try to sit still. It will feel less rewarding if you move even slightly. When the butter feels mostly melted, push your tongue against the harder parts. Make them melt against your cheek. Think about how you are dominating the butter with your tongue. The butter has been making you sit motionlessly as it took its sweet time melting, but now the tables have turned. The butter is very bad. It has been very, very bad. Now you are showing it. Show it how to be good. That’s right. Make it melt the right way. Show it how bad it’s been. You’ve known how bad it’s been all along. Spit it out into a bowl. Microwave it until it boils. Good. Now put the butter bowl in the freezer. Teach it a lesson. Look at it, sitting there on the shelf. Look at how good it thinks it is. While you wait for it to re-solidify, write a strongly but vaguely worded letter to the butter manufacturer. Use words like “thick” and “hungry” and “daddy.”
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How Much Coke Is Bad for Me?
Hey, you rapidly decaying protoplasmic sacks of calcium and shit, my name is Dr. Mona Moore. Obviously, that is not my real name, but I am a real doctor. Don’t feel bad for me, though, because it means I will always have a job, an apartment ten times bigger than yours, and the right to tell you what to do simply because I will always know better. Enjoy my column!
BOLLOCKS TO THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH - HOW MUCH COKE IS BAD FOR ME?
A dentist friend treated a woman who had done so much cocaine it had rotted a hole between her nose and mouth, as well as perforating her septum. That shits on Daniella Westbrook. This woman had a 1” by .5” wide black rancid pit on the roof of her mouth, through which her rotting nose would drip. Her mouth was her brain’s own colostomy bag.
She was in her 40s and had been using cocaine every day for 18 months, which doesn’t actually seem like long enough to have hollowed her skull. They repaired it using a chunk of her tongue, which they flapped over and sewed to her palette. She also had damage to her lateral nasal walls, which will lead to what is called saddle nose deformity. In other words, her nose will fall in on her face, that is unless she stays off the marching powder.
If this has made you delete your dealer’s number and stick your fingers up your nose to test the integrity of that delicate divider, then don’t worry, you’ll get a few warning shots before you wake up with the better part of your nasal cavity in a bloody lump on the pillow. First your nose will feel itchy, then you’ll start getting great crusty goliaths of scabs up there irresistible to pick, then recurrent nose bleeds—particularly in the morning, maybe some facial pain caused by blocked sinuses and eventually some bits begin to fall out, long before which you should have just stopped taking the shit.
Most people in London seem to take cocaine and so I guess many of you do too, and everyone asks the same question: How much do I have to take before the 30-minute rave in my heart will actually kill me?
Seven People You Should Facebook Stalk Before It’s Too Late
Facebook stalking is something that you have obviously never done, ‘cause you’re not a total loser with crippling insecurity and no friends. But, according to the internet, the site is moving towards introducing a system where you will be able to tell who has looked at your page. So, in theory, if you were such a loser, here’s who you should be getting some last minute e-stalking done on before Zuckerberg ruins it for everyone.
ALL OF YOUR EXES
Relationships can take different lengths of time to get over, and it’s never a good idea to dwell on the past, but have you SEEN how she looks right now? And then there’s the endless, banal shit she spouts: “Nice Diet Coke moment at work today!”; “This rain seriously needs to G.O. AWAY!”; “Raiders of the Lost Ark is da perfect Sat film!” It’d be tragic if every status update wasn’t “Liked” by that one loyal BFF from back home in Newcastle, who came to London to visit you once but got in a fight with all your friends and ended up shouting, “You all fucking think you’re better than me, don’t you?” at the pub. That was embarrassing.
Of course, that’s only one ex, and there will be some who were destined for greater things, like dating famous DJs and ending up on magazine covers. It won’t be so bad to look at their pictures now, though, because you tapped that, son.
THAT BOY YOUR GIRLFRIEND IS ALWAYS HANGING OUT WITH
Yeah, there’s a guy she hangs out with at school when you’re not around, so what? You’re a modern guy, he helps her with her studies, she loves you and you trust her, it’s COOL. But before it’s too late, it might be worth checking if everything really is “cool.” Vindictive partners are normally good at covering their online tracks, but their “study buddy” won’t give a shit. You’re probs not gonna be able to figure out if he’s sleeping with your girlfriend, but you will be able to see that he “Liked” The Hangover 2. So that should make you feel better about yourself.
YOUR OLD SCHOOL BULLY
It’s an ancient truth explored in all Nickelodeon shows that the bully was only a bully because they were unloved at home and suffered from some pretty deep-set insecurities. These things result in their adulthood going one of two ways: They either give into their fears entirely and end up getting fat, having kids way too young, and stuck in a dead-end job drinking too much; or they become super-assertive and arrogant adult bullies who end up spending too much time at the gym and working in finance where banter reigns and they can still be feared by people weaker than them. Expect to see photographs from these guys’ vacations where they are standing on a beach admiring each other’s flexed muscles. Because if there is one group of people who don’t understand irony, it’s the guys who spend their childhood calling other guys fags.