Modern induced skull deformity in adults

Neurosurg Focus. 2010 Dec;29(6):E4. doi: 10.3171/2010.10.FOCUS10203.


The practice of induced skull deformity has long existed in numerous disparate cultures, but for the first time in history it can be applied to adults. While extremely limited in application, some ideas have persisted in the far fringes of modern Western culture with remarkable tenacity. Practitioners of extreme body modification undergo procedures, outside the sphere of traditional medical practice, to make striking, permanent, nontraditional esthetic tissue distortions with the goal of transgressing societal norms. The International Trepanation Advocacy Group represents another example of a fringe cultural movement, whose goal, rather than being purely aesthetic in nature, is to promote elective trepanation as a method for achieving a heightened level of consciousness. Both movements have relatively short and well-defined histories. Despite their tiny numbers of adherents, neurosurgeons may be called on to address relevant patient concerns preprocedurally, or complications postprocedurally, and would benefit from awareness of these peculiar subcultures.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Modification, Non-Therapeutic / history*
  • Body Modification, Non-Therapeutic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Head / pathology
  • Head / surgery*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Netherlands
  • Self Mutilation / pathology*
  • Self Mutilation / psychology
  • Skull / injuries
  • Skull / pathology*
  • Skull / surgery
  • Social Conformity
  • Trephining / history
  • Trephining / methods*
  • United States