Alice in Wonderland syndrome

Alexander Pearson
Alice in Wonderland syndrome

“Now I am stretching like the longest telescope that has ever existed! Goodbye feet! he screamed, because when he looked down he saw that his feet were already so far away that it seemed he was going to lose sight of them. Oh my poor feet! I wonder who will put your shoes and your socks on now! "

When we remember the story of Alice in Wonderland, we surely recall those moments when Alice changed in size when she drank or ate some candy or beverage that she found, decreasing until she became very small or growing until she increased in size. These scenes may not have been unknown to the writer, as it appears that Lewis Carroll, creator of the popular novel Alice in Wonderland, suffered, among other things, from an epileptic condition that could make him prone to macropsia and disease. micropsia, two conditions in which objects are perceived to be larger or smaller than they actually have. Today we are talking about a phenomenon that is quite reminiscent of those moments in the novel: The Alice in Wonderland Syndrome 


  • What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?
  • Causes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
  • Symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
  • Treatment of Alice in Wonderland syndrome
    • Links of interest

What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?

This syndrome is a rare condition in which there is a distorted perception of objects and oneself, as well as disorientation. People can see what they are around, and even themselves, as larger or smaller than they actually have.

For example, a person who suffers from this syndrome may see himself as very small, suddenly, or see how the ceiling of the room is getting farther and farther away, while the hanging lamp is getting bigger and bigger..

This syndrome usually affects children above all and is usually eliminated during the adolescent stage, although adults can also suffer from it.

In order to consider that the person is affected by this syndrome, it must be ruled out that this strange perception is not a problem derived from an eye disorder or some type of hallucination.

Causes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

The causes of Alice in Wonderland syndrome are not entirely clear. Although ocular or hallucinatory problems are ruled out, it seems that the specific answer still needs to be investigated further, although its link with migraines is accepted.

Many researchers link the causes of this syndrome to unusual electrical activity in the brain that results in abnormal blood flow, especially in the areas of the brain responsible for processing and sensory perception..

Suffering from migraines is one of the conditions that make us more likely to suffer from this disorder. Some researchers have even affirmed that Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a type of migraine aura, that is, a symptomatology that is based on an altered sensory perception that appears before severe headaches.

Other causes can be infections in the brain or some type of trauma. This condition can also occur when taking some medications. However, for many patients no specific cause has been found..

Symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

This syndrome affects vision, touch and hearing, as well as it can endanger the temporal sense of those affected. That is, time seems to pass slower or faster than normal.

The most common symptom in this syndrome is an altered body image. The parts of the body of the person are perceived as very large or very small. In addition to this distorted perception of the parts of the body, when a migraine episode occurs, people may have the following perceptions:

  • Straight lines are perceived as wavy
  • Human faces can be distorted
  • Three-dimensional objects can be seen as planes
  • Stationary objects appear to be in motion
  • The colors look brighter
  • Things can be seen as stretched

Treatment of Alice in Wonderland syndrome

When there are suspicions of this syndrome, the neurologist can perform some tests to diagnose it. These tests can be blood tests to see if there is a virus that may be causing the syndrome; It is also common to have a functional magnetic resonance imaging test to be able to observe the brain in detail or an EEG to measure its electrical activity.

Being a rare syndrome whose causes are not entirely clear, there is no fully proven effective treatment. Thus, this syndrome is usually treated with prophylactic treatments for migraines, specifically psychoactive drugs such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants or calcium channel blockers that control blood pressure. Diets are also often recommended for migraines, which are often very positive for those affected. However, there is still much research to be done to find a completely effective treatment for all those people who do not have migraines and who are affected by this syndrome..

Links of interest

  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and Visual Migraines.
  • Anne Weissenstein, Elisabeth Luchter, and M.A. Stefan Bittmann (2014) Alice in Wonderland syndrome: A rare neurological manifestation with microscopy in a 6-year-old child
  • What Is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? (AWS). Kimberly Holland.

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