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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Updated on August 31, 2012

What is AIWS?

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (or AIWS) is a neurological condition where sufferers experience distorted visual perception, which results from a disturbance in signals sent from the eyes to the brain. It was obviously named after the famous novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Just like the main character (a young girl named Alice), people with AIWS don't know what is and what isn't. Someone with the condition may see an object as being larger or smaller than it really is or may see its shape alter. People can experience auditory and tactile illusions as well.

What causes AIWS?

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is most commonly caused by migraines, brain tumors, schizophrenia, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and can be one of the initial symptoms of the Epstein-Barr Virus (the most well-known cause of Mononucleosis). The condition can also be brought on by using hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD, marijuana, and Psilocybin mushrooms (also known as 'magic mushrooms'). Most cases of AIWS are of young children, although those who are older can develop it as well. Many children with the condition will outgrow it in their teens or early adulthood.

People with AIWS may perceive distances inaccurately.
People with AIWS may perceive distances inaccurately. | Source
Sufferers of AIWS often have a distorted body image.
Sufferers of AIWS often have a distorted body image. | Source

What are the symptoms?

The following are the symptoms that sufferers of AIWS often experience.

  • Objects appear to be of the wrong size or shape, or distances are perceived inaccurately; for example, a small hallway may actually appear to be never-ending or the ceiling may seem to to be very close in distance to the floor (this can cause someone to feel like the room is caving in on him or her).
  • The person's body image is distorted (i.e. the head or hands appear much larger than they really are).
  • One of the signature symptoms of AIWS is migraines.
  • As with vision, the senses of hearing and touch can be distorted; for example, sounds may appear to be magnified or the ground under the person's feet may feel spongy when it really isn't.
  • The individual loses all sense of time- it seems to pass by too quickly or at an agonizingly slow pace.

How is AIWS treated?

While there is no single proven effective treatment yet available for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, the apparent causes of the condition can be managed to bring about symptom relief. Migraines, probably the most common cause of AIWS, can be treated by taking medications such as antidepressants and calcium channel blockers. Sufferers can also be put on a migraine prevention diet, which includes avoiding 'trigger' foods such as dark chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine, and processed meats. In addition, individuals with the condition should get plenty of rest and sleep, since lack of sleep can increase the occurrence of symptoms as well.

Lastly, it is recommended that sufferers join a support group to help them better (emotionally) deal with their symptoms, which can be both confusing and terrifying.

© Jennzie on HubPages


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