Feilding and Mellen separated after twenty-eight years together; both of them persuaded their subsequent partners to be trepanned. In 1995, Feilding married Lord Neidpath, a former professor at Oxford who taught international relations to Bill Clinton. He found that the terrible headaches he’d suffered from all his life ceased after trepanation.
Feilding is still a supporter of the procedure, and has started up the Beckley Foundation to commission research into the possible benefits of trepanation (the Foundation has also obtained permission to conduct the first study in thirty years of the effects of LSD on human subjects; it will test the neural changes brought about by the drug). She has funded the investigations of a scientist in St. Petersburg, Yuri Moskalenko, who is a pioneer in the field of cerebral circulation and has performed a battery of neurological tests on patients who have had their skulls opened in order to have cancerous brain tumors removed.
Feilding believes his findings “provide incontrovertible evidence” that trepanation does bring about real neuro-physiological changes. Whether those changes are beneficial or not remains an open question. Even within the tight knit circle of Huges’s disciples, not everyone has been so convinced: Huges’s own sister reported that trepanation had no effect on her at all.
In 2000, Feilding traveled to Mexico City to have a second hole drilled in her head because she felt the one she’d made in 1970 with a dentist’s drill had closed up. The surgeon, who she found after many closer to home refused, once again, to help her, performed the operation with a hand-cranked trepan. “I would choose my self-trepanation any day,” Feilding says of his clumsy job, “but I felt incredibly well after having it, pleased to be me. But obviously a subjective difference is not enough to convince anyone.”
That is the story of the modern pioneers of trepanation. Is it still going on today? According to Amanda there are others, but not many. They have a hard time having doctors giving them any public support, for the obvious reason that it might endanger their practice. But I can see a day, not far away, where all the kids at the rave, high on LSD and sugary SmartDrinks, will have inserted candles in their trepanation holes just like that one guy you always see at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum.
Amanda Feilding (Wiki)
Bart Huges (Wiki)
International Trepanation Advocacy Group
The People with Holes in Their Heads
Like a Hole in The Head
The Hole Story on Trepanation