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Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a mental condition in which the subject perceives their body as either much larger or much smaller than normal. If the sufferer feels their their body is larger than normal, they may describe their surroundings as looking like toys or models. If the sufferer feels that they are smaller than normal, this can be just as disconcerting, as objects seem to tower, and they feel themselves to have shrunk. It's important to note that the condition doesn't actually affect one's sight, per se, just the way one perceives the size of their body in relation to the rest of the world. The feeling will persist even with eyes closed.

The condition is most commonly reported by patients also suffering from classical migraines or brain tumor. It is also sometimes reported by young children with no other medical problems.

In addition to the distortion of size perception, patients also report other kinds of perceptual disconnection:

  • feeling as if walking doesn't get them anywhere, as if they were walking on a treadmill
  • the perception that only parts of their body are larger/smaller than normal
  • the feeling of walking on sponges
  • lingering touch sensation, i.e. after you've touched something, you continue to feel it after you've stopped touching it. Touch sensation hallucinations can also occur.
  • lingering sound sensation, i.e. you continue hearing something after the noise has stopped
  • anxiety (no kidding!)
  • loss of limb control and general discoordination, usually because of distorted perceptions of where one's body is in relation to surroundings
  • agnosia / memory loss (though this is thought to be more of a side-effect: If you're having to think really hard about every movement, it's hard to pay attention to anything else and thus hard to remember things.)
There is no treatment for AIWS itself, the strategy is to treat the migraine or other brain disorder and hope that helps.

Awhile back, I was diagnosed with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, because I had been having times when everything would appear to be smaller than me, leading to panic attacks. If I were sitting at a desk, I’d feel like the desk was so tiny that I shouldn’t fit in it, and yet, I do. The main thing that I remember from these occurrences (aka episodes) was that it seemed that my hands were large and especially heavy, along with an odd sensation whenever I would go to touch something, it would seem heavier then usual and yet lighter then usual as I put it down. Walking during an episode feels as if I’m floating across the floor, as if my feet just sink into the ground on each step I take, then back up as I take another step, thus the floating feeling. Though this will sound oxymoronic, when walking, I feel like I’m speeding through a room very fast, and yet take forever to get to the other side of the room. The motions of other people also seem to speed up. This could however be because of the enlarged room feeling with a lower ceiling and longer in width, while everything else goes with this proportion. The first many times this happened, I would get anxiety attacks in which my breathing became erratic and my arms, hands and legs would be shaking like mad. I lost all coordination as to drinking water or even walking straight. In the end though, all would return to normal and became ok.

One specific episode I had (which was back in middle/elementary school since this is when I was first diagnosed) was in the middle of a test in English Class. Of course this was the first time that this had occurred during the day, while all the other incidents were at night. I of course stormed out of the room shaking and trembling, ending up with a 10 on the test. This left me frightened of these panic attacks for much time (which happened more and more frequently after this).

Today however, oddly enough in some bizarre and twisted way I’ve incorporated this into my life. As years past I learned more and more as to controlling the episodes. From all this time I figured that it was brought on by stressfull situations (ie tests) and just as I doze off to sleep. Personally, my interpretation of AIWS is that it is a way to relieve stress and works remarkably during tests and for getting to sleep. It really focuses my mind in on one thing that I’m thinking about unlike the usual jumble my thoughts are in. For all I know, I have three or for episodes a day (without the anxiety part) and don’t even realize it as I’ve gotten used to it. For any other AIWS people out there, my advice is to look deep inside yourself, see what’s stressing you if anything, and learn to use the AIWS to your’ advantage. The relation to migraines hints towards that stress is probably a common cause of AIWS. Oddly enough, I’m having an episode as I type (probably because it’s past midnight after a very long day).

An overall “moral” of this node is probably “Embrace that which you are.” And everyone lived happily ever after… The End. The neat thing is, is that this is true.

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