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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Historical and Medical Review

ABSTRACT

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception to the senses of vision, hearing, touch, sensation, and the phenomenon of time. Individuals affected with Alice in Wonderland syndrome can experience alterations in their perception to the size of objects or their own body parts, known as metamorphopsias. It is known to occur in conditions including migraine, epilepsy, as well as certain intoxicants and infectious diseases. The name refers to Lewis Carrol's well-known children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in which the title character experiences alterations of sensation in which she felt that her body had grown too tall or too small, or parts of her body were changing shape, size, or relationship to the rest of her body. The syndrome was described in 1952 by Caro Lippman, and given its name in 1955 by John Todd. The metamorphopsias characteristic of this condition are also sometimes referred to as Lilliputian hallucinations, as a reference to the fictional island of Lilliput in the novel Gulliver's Travels, written by Jonathan Swift in 1726. As such, many literary and medical publications have roots in the description of this syndrome. The purpose of this review is to summarize the literary and historical significance of Alice in Wonderland syndrome, as well as to provide the reader with a medical overview of the condition.