'Hat on - hat off': trauma and trepanation in Kisii, western Kenya
Journal of Eastern African Studies
In 1957, Kenya's government psychiatrist and director of the colony's Mathari Mental Hospital travelled to western Kenya to investigate the practice of trepanation among the Gusii people in Kisii District. Applied to relieve pressure on the brain by scraping away a portion of the skull with a hooked knife, trepanation was exceptionally rare by the 20th century, but remained common in Kisii where the operations are conducted by a group of skilled practitioners. This article uses materials from psychiatrist Edward Margetts' personal papers, including photographs, diaries and clinical notes, to describe and examine the practice of trepanation in Kisii in the 1950s, concluding with a discussion of the social meaning of trepanation and trauma in modern Kenya. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
Kenya, medicine, photography, psychiatry, trauma