What is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome was first demonstrated in 1955 by John Todd, a psychiatrist. The condition was so called on the basis of the novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This article provides insight into the symptoms and causes o

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) is a disorienting disorder of neurological origin that afflicts one’s awareness and perception. The condition disrupts signals conveyed from the eyes to the brain, hence, resulting in misrepresentation and warping of one’s perception.

By and large, one suffering from the disease complains of auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations and distorted perceptions. AIWS can be extremely puzzling and alarming for the patient; for, he thinks he is going mad, in a bizarre world with hallucinations and distorted perceptions.

Symptoms of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’s hallmark manifestation is migraine.
  • The primary manifestation is a distorted body image. Usually, one perceives the sizes of various parts of the body incorrectly. Typically, the head and hands appear disproportionate to him.
  • He will also perceive the sizes of other objects wrongly.
  • He also loses sense of time; for him, time either passes exceedingly slowly, or too quickly.
  • Hallucinations are common too; one may picture things that are not actually there.
  • Auditory and tactile perceptions tend to get distorted as well.

Causes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

The exact cause of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is still quite unclear; in fact, not many doctors know about the condition. Factors that have been linked to Alice in Wonderland Syndrome are:

  • Typical migraine (i.e. aura, visual derangements, one-half headaches, and vomiting) is associated with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy is a significant factor too.
  • Brain tumors set off transitory symptoms of the disorder.
  • Use of illicit drugs
  • Epstein Barr viral infection
  • Statistics state the condition is frequently seen in children.
  • Also, it is common with some people at sleep-onset.

Treatment of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

AIWS does not have an established, effective treatment plan, but the doctors treat the likely causes to bring about relief.

  • The treatment regimen comprises of providing the patient with migraine preventives, anti depressants, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers). The patient must follow a migraine diet to stave off episodes successfully.
  • Epilepsy needs to be managed appropriately.
  • Chronic cases are relatively untreatable and wear out, sooner or later.
  • One may see hallucinations several times during the day, and these manifestations take sometime to settle. Understandably, he feels terrified, worried and unnerved. However, these appearances are not damaging or hazardous, and in all probability they die away with time. Rest is very vital.
  • Doctors advise support groups or discussion groups; they help the patient understand the disorder, share experiences with other sufferers, and deal with the problems a lot better.


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Judith Barton
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