- 735 Downloads
“Primum non nocere” - first do no harm
The use of surgical techniques to treat psychological conditions, so-called psychosurgery, has been a feature of therapeutic interventions in many societies since Neolithic times, with the earliest known trephined skull found in Alsace, France, dating to 5100 BC [1, 2]. Trepanation, or trephination, was a technique characterized by the removal of portions of skull that has been found in ossuaries from Europe and Asia to South America and even in parts of Australia [3, 4, 5]. In a series of 288 skulls from the Andes in Southern Peru there were 24 (8%) with trepanations, 13 (54%) of which were healing , with an estimated survival rate of 70% . It was allegedly used to treat headaches, epilepsy and a variety of other neurological conditions , with reports from Salernitanus in the twelfth century stating that breaching the skull in cases of mania allowed “noxious material to exhale to the outside”. Burton in his seventeenth...
Compliance with ethical standards
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by the author.
This study was not funded.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
- 3.Janssens PA. Trepanation. In: paleopathology. Diseases and injuries of prehistoric man. London: John Baker Publishers; 1970. p. 125–39.Google Scholar
- 4.Worden G. Mütter museum of the college of physicians of Philadelphia. New York: Blast Books; 2002. p. 93.Google Scholar