Alice in Wonderland syndrome

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A psychopathological syndrome of distorted space, time and body image.

Description

A psychopathological syndrome of distorted space, time and body image. The patient has a feeling that the entire body or parts of it have been altered in shape and size (metamorphosis), associated with visual hallucinations.

Psychoanalytic interpretation by Todd has made more understandable and plausible the illusionary dreams, feeling of levitation, and alteration in the sense of passage of time that Alice experienced. Alice trod the paths and byways of a wonderland well known to Carroll, her creator, who suffered severely from migraine. The majority of patients have personal or family history of migraine.

In Lippman’s report, one of the patients stated that she felt short and wide as she walked, calling this a ”tweedlike dum” or ”tweedle dee” feeling. Associated disorders may include apraxia, agnosia, language disorders, feelings of déjà vu or jamais vu, dreamlike or trancelike states, and delirium.

The disorder was first described in 1955 by the English psychiatrist John Todd (1914-1987), who named it for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Cheshire Cat syndrome is another medical eponym taken from Alice in Wonderland. It was first described by the British physician Eric George Lapthorne Bywaters (born 1910) in 1968.

Bibliography

  • Lewis Carroll:
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.London 1865.
  • J. Todd:
    Syndrome of Alice in Wonderland.
    Canadian Medical Association Journal, Ottawa, 1955, 73: 701-704.
  • C. W. Lippman:
    Certain hallucinations peculiar to migraine.
    Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Baltimore, 1952, 116: 346-351.

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