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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Rare Cause of Distorted Perception

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Rare Cause of Distorted Perception
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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

distorted perception


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rare neuropsychological condition in which the patient’s perception is distorted. This most often manifests as seeing objects either smaller or larger than they actually are. It can also include seeing objects much closer or much farther away than they actually are. In some cases, patients actually perceive their own bodies as larger or smaller than they appear in reality. The condition is named after the popular children’s story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which the main character navigates a strange world where things appear different than they actually are.

What Causes Alice in Wonderland Syndrome?

In many cases, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is hereditary, having been passed down from a patient’s parent. In other cases, it develops due to an underlying condition, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Chiari Malformation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Lack of sleep
  • Psychoactive drug use
  • Brain tumors
  • Chronic migraines

Types of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

There is only one type of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome that has been recognized in medical literature.

alice in wonderland syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome Symptoms

  • Seeing objects as smaller or larger than they really are
  • Seeing objects closer or farther than they really are
  • Feeling that one’s body is smaller or larger than it actually is
  • Feeling that one’s body parts are shrinking or swelling when they are not
  • Sound distortion/Hearing noises that are not there
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety or nervousness

Diagnosing Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome cannot be diagnosed through any diagnostic imaging or testing because it is strictly neuropsychological. Your doctor may observe you visualizing objects and ask you how large or small they appear. This can help determine if you are seeing things as they actually are. To rule out underlying causes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, your doctor will likely order blood panels and diagnostic imaging of the brain, such as a CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan.

Treating Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Many cases of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome resolve on their own after some time. In cases that are the result of an underlying condition, treatment for the underlying condition will often resolve the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

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