Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brain Goo

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dubious Parades.

I remember visiting a museum years ago – can't remember which one or where, which is one of the problems of traveling a lot – wherein there was a display describing prehistoric surgery. For reals.

Apparently, somebody (anthropologists? archeologists? utility workers?) found ancient skeletons from cave man times that have pretty clear evidence that their skull had been cut into then sealed again while they were alive. I suppose scientific curiosity is a possible motive but that aside, I have to wonder what they were trying to cure. How aberrant can a caveman's behavior be that his friends decide they might be able to fix it by digging around in his head? If he was killing people for no reason, seems more logical that they'd just kill him. If he was hallucinating, they'd likely chalk it up to a spiritual experience. Same with epilepsy or whatever. Maybe he was the first person to start talking and they thought he was crazy. It's interesting that they even suspected that fiddling with the goo inside your head might change something about your life.

If anyone knows more about this, let me know. I don't have time to research it this week, I'm trying to get ahead on deadlines so I can take a little vacation. Even if you just have a theory, leave it in the comments. I find this kind of thing pretty fascinating.

25 comments:

James said...

Perhaps a wayward stone tool found its way into the person's skull, and the wound was repaired.

That might pass for intentionally cutting into someone's skull.

daniel said...

It's commonly referred to as "trepanning"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trepanning

I'd love to ramble on and on about it, but I think the above link will resolve most of your questions. ]

Enjoy!

Prospero said...

The process is called trepaning and is still practiced among primitive cultures today to relieve brain swelling.

Anonymous said...

Check this out.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trepanation

rob said...

Wikipedia says epilepsy and migraines... I can see frequent migraines driving someone to try to cut out the pain.
I tend to agree with your point about epilepsy, unless, perhaps, that didn't jibe with their religion, and therefore meant the person was some kind of heretic.

ojeano said...

My theory on the caveman with the healed skull is that they had to put him back together after the first anesthesiologist got to him.

doug nicodemus said...

i think one of the long held beliefs was that the cause for severe headaches - like migraines lay in the head...sort of like "if it hurts there the cure must be there"...primitive medicine in some case was not all that primitive...there is some belief that it let out bad spirits and finally as you saw if you watched in the movie master and commander - they took out bullets, arrows and stitched fractures...

Anonymous said...

Hey hey!

So, I looked up "did cavemen do brain surgery?" and this is what popped up:

"Brain surgery is one of the oldest medical practices on earth. Archaeologists have found many small holes in the skulls of cavemen, which they have determined were put there intentionally. What were prehistoric humans doing inside each other’s heads? The best guess is that they thought the small holes would release evil spirits. Our level of medical sophistication has come a long way since then."

...Well, I would hope our "level of medical sophistication" has indeed come a long way... otherwise the evil spirits might stay inside my brain!

Anyways, thanks for making the workday bearable!

Tina

Anonymous said...

I was just talking about this the other day... I was hit on the head with a rake when I was a kid (picture a 4 yr old Carrie in a Cowichan sweater). Head traumas can be quite entertaining - when you survive them, of course.

here's a link:
http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111742/Trepanning.htm

Mark Eddy said...

It wasn't corrective surgery but elective.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trepanning

This is what folks did before the advent of refined, mind-altering drugs.

Linus said...

The Egyptians did brain surgery 5000 years ago for the same reason probably-migraines. They did not have caffeine yet, let alone tobacco for vasoconstriction. They are obsolete compared with the wonderful Tansy, Feverfew, which will short circuit an oncoming migraine or reverse the life-saving vasodilation without being addictive. Yes, this makes your cigars obsolete. There are no vegan cigars last time I checked. Sorry,
Linus Hollis, ScD

iseethemailbox said...

Dan, Have you ever watched reruns of ER. There is an episode when Anthony Edwards walks in on a guy letting someone preform that procedure. It is called Trepadation, I know the SP. is wrong but that is what it sounds like. It is suppose to allow your brain to be free....Maybe let out the demons! Sure would like my brain to be free..No worries..No IRS, No troubles from my adult children. I wish all it took was a hole in one's head....Lori

Kathryn said...

Trepanning: http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111742/Trepanning.htm

dannybuntu said...

Lol. Good one :)

Anonymous said...

here's some stuff to read
for starters.........

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/surgery.htm

http://library.thinkquest.org/C0110299/brain/surgery.php?page=surgery1

http://www.brain-surgery.com/history.html

Cavall de Quer said...

"There is a long-standing myth that before the Enlightenment, all the experiences and behaviours we would now classify as madness were thought to be due to demonic possession.

This idea has been comprehensively debunked and it is now clear that both of these concepts have run side-by-side and medieval courts often went to great lengths to try and distinguish the two 'states'.

I've just read a fascinating article about 'Demonology, Neurology, and Medicine in Edwardian Britain' from the Bulletin of the History of Medicine that showed that this tendency continued well into the modern age."

Mind Hacks blog 14 April 2010 - there are links to the articles mentioned. Enjoy!

Wendy said...

If someone was suffering from migraines or something like that, they may have thought they could release a devil from the guy's head. There's a practice called trepanning, where a hole is drilled in the head. Check it out on wikipedia. Freaky shit. Some people still believe in it today!

Robin Cain said...

I giggled out loud at this one...

Dave said...

They pprobably just thought he was hiding something in there.....

Swanksalot said...

There is an International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, and while I haven't been there in years, I remember my partner being totally grossed out by crudity of medical instruments from previous centuries.

Their website:
https://www.imss.org/

I don't remember if trepanning was an exhibit, but I think so.

qka said...

All this talk about ancient trepanning and such makes me think that using the term "brain surgeon" to describe the smartest guy in the crown has ancient origins.

On the other hand, I'm sure using the term "rocket scientist" to describe the smart guy has more modern origins.

Foye Lowe said...

It may be called "trepanning" now, but I am certain that long ago, in the age of Rock without Rolls, the term was "skulldiggery" . . .

Foye, Baton Rouge fan

Anonymous said...

i think cavecat had an a real bad toothache and this pain was referred to his head and fellow cavecats were thinking that a hole in his head would alleviate his suffering.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that our early ancestors were very familiar with the possibility of a blow on the head causing bleeding into the brain. They were probably bashing a lot of animals on the head to stun them, and then seeing the results during butchering. "Primitive" hunting societies know a lot about anatomy.

It's not a big stretch then for them to be compare what happened to the aurochs after they clubbed it and the animal's pupils changed and it started staggering and finally went unconscious, and what might be happening to Og, after he fell on his head, had his pupils become uneven and he then passed out. They know the aurochs had brain damage from the blood leaking and putting pressure on it. So... if we want to save Og's life, maybe carefully cutting a hole to let some of that blood out would help... They also would know where the major blood vessels in the scalp lie, and the sutures in the skull, and Og would likely have passed beyond the need of anaesthetic, so it would not be as risky as it sounds. There might also be other signs of inter cranial pressure, such as cerebral fluid leaking from the nose or ears, to indicate to them where the pressure was building up.

Megadyne said...

I know the ancient Incan civilization as well as other South Americans were performing brain surgery way before we ever got there. Mostly it was to relieve pressure in the brain. It might have been similar among the cavemen.