Alice in Wonderland syndrome (Todd’s Syndrome) is a rare disorienting neurological condition that affects a person’s perception of their body. The condition is named after Lewis Caroll’s seminal book of the same name. The disease was named by John Todd and came from the scene in Lewis Carroll’s novel in which Alice drinks the shrinking potion and becomes but a couple of inches tall. This name, however, may not have been such a coincidence, since Lewis Carroll was also speculated to have suffered from migraines and may have been in such a state while writing Alice The condition is often associated with migraines, brain tumors, and other debilitating neurological conditions. The disorder itself is said to manifest right after a migraine.
The most common symptoms are an alteration of a person’s body image in which the sizes of parts of the body (such as limbs) are perceived incorrectly or an alteration of visual perception which causes the sizes of external objects to be perceived incorrectly. The person can experience a feeling of feeling larger compared to their surroundings and feel smaller themselves (macropsia) or they feel larger compared to their surroundings (micropsia).
The disorder affects many people, but frequently early in children or later in life and is commonly experienced at night. A classic migraine is assumed to be a main cause of the disorder, but epilepsy and an infection from the Epstein-Barr virus might also be common.
The condition is not caused by damage to the eyes or related structures, but the person sees structures with varying levels of perception.
Diagnosis: Physicians will first rule out damage to the eye or the ocular nerve. An EEG will show electrical activity in the areas of the brain that produce vision and perception.
Symptoms: People with Alice in Wonderland syndrome experience altered body image. Parts of the body appear larger or smaller in relation to the rest of their body. People also see objects in different sizes such as cars, buildings, or other people. Distorted time perception, touch persception, and sound perception are also common.
Treatment: Treatment is the same for migraines: anticonvulsants, beta blockers, and diet regulation. The symptoms begin to fade as one ages.
Additional Information: Here’s a testimony from people who are affected by Alice in Wonderland syndrome:
When it first happened, I was a 21-year-old undergraduate. I had been up late the night before writing my dissertation and drinking a lot of coffee, but on that particular morning I was stone cold sober and hangover-free. I stood up, reached down to pick up the TV remote control from the floor and felt my foot sink into the ground. Glancing down, I saw that my leg was plunging into the carpet. It was a disturbing sensation, but it lasted only a few seconds, so I put it down to over-tiredness and forgot all about it.
It wasn’t long, however, before I started experiencing more extreme spatial distortions. Floors either curved or dipped, and when I tried walking on them, it felt as though I was staggering on sponges. When I lay in bed and looked at my hands, my fingers stretched off half a mile into the distance.
Also, check out some of the articles and videos about different people affected:
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