By A.M. (Alfons Michael) Dauer
Trephination, the act or process of making a hole in the skull by drilling and/or removing a piece of the bone, is believed by many to be an early form of brain surgery. It is found in Neolithic Europe, pre-Columbian America and in other places in the world during various time periods.
In the Health Science Rare books, one of the collections in the Archives and Special Collections, I have found a copy of Maganda, which is a movie that I think shows someone trephining a skull of a living person. I haven’t seen the movie yet since the archives doesn’t have a 16mm film projector. This is how the University of Washington Educational Media Collection catalog describes it:
“A trephination to relieve severe headache, performed by an experienced witch doctor under unsterile conditions and without the benefit of anesthesia, is the highlight of this unusual film which shows that witch-doctoring is by no means a thing of the past. Designed as a piece of medical entertainment in which are collected interesting and unique scenes on African medicine. (NOTE: The attempts at humor are somewhat ethnocentric and the narration is, at times, condescending; however, the footage on the trephination remains striking.)”
The catalog record also gives a film date of 1963.
http://www.css.washington.edu/emc/title/1753. (Accessed May 30, 2014.)