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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Updated on August 31, 2012
Source

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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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I've experienced this sensation for a few minutes, up to an hour. I never thought of it as anything. It is weird at the time. But, I haven't had any migraines. I kind of enjoy it when it makes me feel taller. :)

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      6 years ago from California, United States of America

      This is fascinating, I hadn't heard of this, but I know people who exhibit these symptoms.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      This is something that I had never heard of and I used to work with persons with all disabilities. Thanks for the education.

    • jennzie profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenn 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks billybuc, kashmir, mhatter, and mama kim for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for this incredibly fascinating hub! I couldn't imagine having to live with such a condition.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this fascinating report.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting information, i have not heard of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. But enjoyed reading and learning more about it .

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That was absolutely fascinating! I have never heard of such a thing. Thanks for the education!

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