Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a neurological disorder that disrupts the messages sent from the eyes to the brain, causing a corresponding distortion in visual perception. This condition can also cause strange distortions in the sense of touch and sound in the patient. Children are most commonly afflicted with AIWS, although it can set in at adulthood as well. This syndrome can be confusing and frightening for the patient, as it can feel like he or she is going crazy in a strange, Lilliputian world with fractured vision and odd hallucinations.
This condition is also known as micropsia, a reference to the fact that objects, animals, and people often appear to shrink in the hallucinations associated with it. The original name was coined in 1955, and it references the strange events in the novel of the same name by Lewis Carroll. Some researchers suspect that the condition may have affected Carroll himself, and perhaps this is why the visions in the book seem so frighteningly real to some readers.
In the most common form of Alice in Wonderland syndrome, the patient hallucinates, thinking that objects around him or her are growing or shrinking. The sense of distance may be impaired as well, with objects suddenly seeming very close, or far away. Some people also experience distortion in the perception of their body parts, thinking that various parts of them are larger or smaller than they should be.
In some cases, the sense of touch may be distorted. Sufferers can think that they are sinking into the floor or passing through walls, and they may experience fractured vision that looks like a complex mosaic. Auditory hallucinations can occur as well, with sounds seeming louder, softer, closer, or further than they really are. This condition can be very disorienting and sometimes scary.
Alice in Wonderland syndrome is linked with several conditions. It is most commonly associated with migraines and severe headaches, and it can serve as a warning for the onset of a serious migraine. It has also been linked with epilepsy and the onset of mononucleosis, and with the use of some recreational drugs. Micropsia is a cause for concern because it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, and people who suffer from it should seek medical attention. A healthcare professional may be able to offer treatment for the cause of the condition, along with tips for dealing with the symptoms.