Dear Dr. Boli: How did head-hunting originate? Why heads? Why do they shrink them? —Sincerely, Curious in Cumberland.
Dear Sir or Madam: In primitive societies, where psychiatry is in its infancy, people often lose their heads, and it is only natural that, laboring under such a disability, they should seek out friends and neighbors willing to help them find what they have misplaced. It is equally natural that some of those volunteer headhunters, enthralled by the excitement of the sport, should begin to hunt heads that are not, strictly speaking, lost in the first place. A decent accumulation of heads begins to take up space, however, and only the wealthiest can afford to devote whole rooms to their burgeoning collections. Shrinking the heads allows them to be organized neatly in palm-leaf portfolios in crude woven filing cabinets. Among primitive peoples, the urge to catalogue and classify a collection is strong. Indeed, although more attention has been focused on the somewhat more sensational hobby of headhunting, the characteristic avocation of primitive tribesmen throughout the world is philately.