Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland.jpgAlice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rather peculiar disorder that certainly befits its title. It was given its name due to the fact that the syndrome's symptoms are remarkably similar to the distortions in body image and shape as experienced by the main character in Lewis Carrol's 1865 novel "Alice in Wonderland". Objects either appear to be much larger (macropsia) or smaller (micropsia) than normal, and there is usually also an impaired perception of time and place.

One woman with the syndrome even described how short and wide she felt when walking, calling this sensation the "tweedle-dum or tweedle-dee" effect. The disorder has been closely linked to migraine headaches, a problem, incidentally, that Lewis Carroll suffered greatly from. This has led some scholars to suggest that the author may have experienced the syndrome himself.

Other associated conditions include epilepsy, Infectious Mononucleosis, and viral infections such as Epstein Barr virus (the most common cause of Infectious Mononucleosis) and coxsackievirus. Psychotropic drugs may also play a part, as evidenced in the novel when Alice ingested the cake which resulted in symptoms remarkably similar to those brought on by hallucinogenic-containing mushroom fly agaric or amanita muscara).

Some Japanese doctors have even stated that some of the ingredients of cough syrup could also cause Alice in Wonderland symptoms, although further studies need to be undertaken on this matter. 1

Reference:

  1. Takaoka K, Takata T - 'Alice in Wonderland' syndrome and Lilliputian hallucinations in a patient with a substance-related disorder. Psychopathology 1999 Jan-Feb; 32(1): 47-9.

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