Sunday, 22 January 2012 | By: MMM

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

We are all familiar with the loveable movie, Alice in Wonderland. But are we aware that there is an actual illness called the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? This very real sickness causes quite a few people grief in their daily lives.

What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?

The Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is an illness that causes you to perceive things in a different way. You may feel like you are taller than you really are or you may feel like your leg goes through the ground. The ground you walk on will feel spongy, making it difficult to walk. Driving becomes impossible as objects are distorted and depth perception is diminished.

Who can get Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome generally shows up in children. When they grow older, kids often are able to grow out of their Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. It can happen to adults as well, and is harder to grow out of it.

How you get Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

There are several reasons the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can activate in your body. One of them is migraines. The pain can be so terrible that you cannot focus on reality. It causes you to see things that are not really there.
Two other possible causes could be temporal lobe epilepsy. The last could beEpstein-Barr virus, which has the potential to cause infectious mononucleosis.

Fixing Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

At the moment, there are no known cures for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. The only way to attempt to fix it is to find the underlying cause for Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and treat that.
So the next time you read Alice in Wonderland, remember that it is not all fun and games. Seeing things differently can be fun, but it makes it hard to live a normal life.

Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome (AIWS, named after the novel written by Lewis Carroll), also known as Todd's syndrome,[1] is a disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception. Sufferers may experience micropsiamacropsia, or size distortion of other sensory modalities. A temporary condition, it is often associated with migrainesbrain tumors, and the use of psychoactive drugs. It can also present as the initial sign of the Epstein-Barr Virus (see mononucleosis).[2] Anecdotal reports suggests that the symptoms of AIWS are fairly common in childhood, with many people growing out of them in their teens. It appears that AIWS is also a common experience at sleep onset. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can be caused by abnormal amounts of electrical activity causing abnormal blood flow in the parts of the brain that processes visual perception and texture.[3]


Although no studies are available that display any correlation between age, sex, or race, AIWS is thought to be relatively common among migraine sufferers and young children.

Signs and symptoms

Eye components are entirely normal. The AIWS is a result of change in perception as opposed to the eyes themselves malfunctioning. The hallmark sign of AIWS is a migraine (AIWS may in part be caused by the migraine). AIWS affects the sufferer's sense of vision, sensation, touch, and hearing, as well as one's own body image.
The most prominent and often most disturbing symptom is that of altered body image: the sufferer will find that he is confused as to the size and shape of parts of (or all of) his body.
The eyes themselves are normal, but the sufferer 'sees' objects with the wrong size or shape or finds that perspective is incorrect. This can mean that people, cars, buildings, etc., look smaller or larger than they should be, or that distances look incorrect; for example a corridor may appear to be very long, or the ground may appear too close.
Similar to the lack of spatial perspective, the sufferer also loses a sense of time. That is, time seems to pass very slowly, akin to an LSD experience. The lack of time, and space, perspective thus leads to a distorted sense of velocity, since one is missing the two most important parts of the equation. For example, one could be inching along ever so slowly in reality, yet it would seem as if one were sprinting uncontrollably along a moving walkway, leading to severe, overwhelming disorientation. This can then cause the sufferer to feel as if movement, even within their own home, is futile.
In addition, some people may, in conjunction with a high fever, experience more intense and overt hallucinations, seeing things that are not there and misinterpreting events and situations.
Other minor or less common symptoms may include loss of limb control and general discoordination, memory loss, lingering touch and sound sensations, and emotional experiences.[4]


AIWS is a disturbance of perception rather than a specific physiological change to the body's systems. The diagnosis can be presumed when other physical causes have been ruled out and if the patient presents symptoms along with migraines and complains of onset during the day (although it can occur at night). Another symptom of AIWS is sound distortion, such as every little movement making a clattering sound. This can make a person with AIWS paranoid and afraid to move.


Treatment is the same as that for other migraine prophylaxis: anticonvulsantsantidepressantsbeta blockers, and calcium channel blockers, along with strict adherence to the migraine diet. Chronic Alice In Wonderland Syndrome is untreatable and must wear itself out. Rest is the prime treatment, but another effective therapy is to join support groups to share experiences and to know that you are not alone.


Whatever the cause, the distortions can recur several times a day and may take some time to abate. Understandably, the sufferer can become alarmed, frightened, even panic-stricken. The symptoms of the syndrome themselves are not harmful and likely to disappear with time. It is not contagious and rest is the best treatment.


  1. ^ Longmore, Murray; Ian Wilkinson, Tom Turmezei, Chee Kay Cheung (2007). Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine. Oxford. pp. 686. ISBN 0-19-856837-1.,
  2. ^ Cinbis M, Aysun S; M Cinbis and S Aysun (May 1992). "Alice in Wonderland syndrome as an initial manifestation of Epstein-Barr virus infection."Br J Ophthalmol 76 (5): 316.doi:10.1136/bjo.76.5.316PMC 504267PMID 1390519.
  3. ^ Feldman, Caroline. "A Not So Pleasant Fairy Tale: Investigating Alice in Wonderland Syndrome." Serendip. Serendip, 04 jul 2008. Web. 25 Nov 2011.
  4. ^ "Alice in Wonderland Syndrome." h2g2. 21 09 2009: n. page. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <>.
  • Podoll K, Ebel H, Robinson D, Nicola U (August 2002). "[Obligatory and facultative symptoms of the Alice in wonderland syndrome]". Minerva Med. 93 (4): 287–93. PMID 12207198.
  • Kew, J., Wright, A., & Halligan, P.W. (1998). Somesthetic aura: The experience of "Alice in Wonderland", The Lancet, 351,p1934