Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a neurological illness that causes the victim to hallucinate. This term is used loosely, so, in this guide, we will also be exploring the terms macropsia and micropsia, as well as a couple of other things associated with the syndrome. Note that there is not a lot of information floating around about the illness, but this guide will be as detailed as possible.
All About AIWS
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (abbreviated as AIWS or AIW Syndrome) is a neurological condition whose name is derived from Lewis’ Carroll’s famous novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It involves warped perceptions - both visual and tactile. It is linked to various other illnesses and conditions and - importantly - AIWS is a temporary condition that is often triggered or caused by something else.
What Actually Happens?
A sufferer of AIWS is likely to experience multiple misconceptions of reality. The condition has nothing to do with the eyes of the afflicted; AIWS is a mental illness that only affects the victim at certain times. Remember that AIWS is usually temporary.
Two common neurological conditions a sufferer of AIWS may experience are macropsia and micropsia.
Macropsia is a condition where the afflicted sees objects or people as larger than they actually are in reality. Only individual objects are enlarged, not everything in the visual field (for example, a plate may appear to be the same size as a table). The illness causes the victim to feel smaller in size than they actually are. A buzzing sound is often heard before the onset of the symptoms, and the causes of the condition are usually similar, if not the same, as those pertaining to AIWS.
Micropsiais a condition where the afflicted sees objects or people as smaller than they actually are in reality. It is more common than macropsia and can be caused by a variety of factors, including traumatic brain injury, swelling of the cornea, epilepsy, migraines, prescription and illicit drug use, retinal edema, macular degeneration, central serous chorioretinopathy, brain lesions, psychological factors, and dissociative phenomena. Micropsia is also far less debilitating than macropsia, and a person suffering from this particular condition is often able to judge the correct size of an object or the distance between objects, despite suffering from the illness.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is heavily associated with other conditions, including migraines, brain tumours, and the use of psychoactive drugs. These conditions are able to cause the onset of AIWS hallucinations. As well as this, AIWS is more common in children of a young age.
AIWS affects all five senses, as well as the individual’s perception of his/her own body. Below are some of the more common symptoms:
Because Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is usually a temporary condition, migraine medication is often prescribed to AIWS sufferers. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are also used. Chronic AIWS, however, is untreatable, and must be left alone until the symptoms disappear. Sleep is the most common temporary cure.
Myths and Misconceptions
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is not widely spoken about, nor is it particularly well-known. The most obvious misconception is the notion that every object and person in the visual field of a sufferer is distorted, rather than a certain number of individual objects or people. Another misconception is the idea that AIWS is a chronic or lifelong condition, whereas it is usually brought on by migraines an other related illnesses.
Playing a character with AIWS involves a combination of all the above information, as well as a deep knowledge of the personality of the character. Like any condition, AIWS does not define the afflicted person, although it may affect how they perceive the world around them. Note that a character with AIWS would not be particularly suited to an asylum roleplay, since it is not an illness that affects someone at all times - unless it is chronic, which is relatively uncommon. Feelings of confusion, stress and isolation may be extremely prevalent, as well as moments of distorted thinking or warped perceptions of the world around him/her and unreal body image ideals.
Be extremely careful not to overplay the condition, and do not let it affect the character all the time. Ensure the character is well-rounded and is not defined by the condition, and always use the correct terminology and metalanguage.
If you have any additional questions about the condition, my ask box is always open. If you have any problems with the way this guide has been written, or would like to add to it from personal experience, you are welcome to come to my ask box.