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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome; Everything You Need to Know about AIWS

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) is a neuropsychological condition that is very rare. It is also called Todd’s syndrome or dysmetropsia. It is a condition that causes temporary distortion in perception and disorientation. They may experience distortions in visual perception of objects either appearing smaller ( micropsia) or larger ( macropsia) or appearing closer ( pelopsia) or farther away ( teleopsia). They are caused by changes in how your brain perceives the surroundings you are a part of and how your body looks.

This distortion can happen besides vision as well. It affects multiple senses such as vision, touch, and hearing. One may also lose a sense of time. This is often associated with Migraines, brain tumours, and psychoactive drugs. They are not caused due to an eye problem or hallucination. These episodes happen most commonly in children and young adults. It can affect people of all ages. Almost around one-third of sufferers continue to experience ongoing episodes.

It can be caused by an irregular amount of electrical activity which results in abnormal blood flow in parts of the brain that process visual perception and texture. It is seen that at least 10% of the population may experience these effects at least once in their lifetime.



AIWS  episodes vary for each individual. A typical episode lasts five to twenty minutes.

The common symptoms are 

1. Migraines

This is the most occurring symptom. Some researchers believe that AIWS is actually an aura. Others believe that it may be a rare subtype of migraine.

2. Nausea

3. Dizziness

4. Size distortion

Micropsia and Macropsia are experienced during an episode of AIWS. Micropsia is the sensation that your body or the objects in your surrounding are growing smaller. Macropsia is the sensation that your body or the objects in your surroundings are growing larger.

5. Perceptual distortion

Pelopsia and teleopsia are experienced during an episode. Pelopsia is the sensation that objects are closer than they really are and teleopsia is the sensation that objects are moving further apart in your surroundings.

6. Time distortion

They might lose a sense of time. They may either feel the time is passing by really fast or slower than it really is.


Less frequent symptoms

1. Memory loss

2. Lingering touch

3. Emotional instability

4. Sound sensation  – Every sound seems typically loud and intrusive.

5. Loss of limb control or loss of coordination – This symptom occurs when muscles feel as if they’re not in your control. One may feel uncoordinated or have difficulty in moving than they normally would.



Alice in Wonderland

It is not clear what causes AIWS but they do know that AIWS is not a problem related to the eye or hallucination or mental illness. They believe unusual electric activity may be the result of many causes. They found that 33% of people with AIWS experienced infections. Head trauma and migraines were around 6%. But most of the causes are unknown. Migraine is considered a leading cause of AWS in adults. Infection is considered as the primary cause. Other possible causes are:

1. Stress

2. Cough

3. Use of hallucinogenic drugs

4. Epilepsy

5. Stroke

6. Brain tumour



These may increase the risk for AIWS –

1. Migraines –  AIWS may be a type of aura or sensory warning of coming migraine.

2. Infections – AIWS may be an early symptom of the Epstein Bar Virus ( EBV). This can cause infectious mononucleosis.

2. Genetics – If one has a family history of migraines and AIWS, there is a higher risk of experiencing this condition.



Your doctor may be able to diagnose by ruling out other possible symptoms and causes. These episodes may happen several times a day or several days in a row.

1. MRI scan – It produces a highly detailed image of your organs and tissues, including the brain.

2. Electroencephalography ( EEG) – It measures the electrical activity of the brain.

3. Blood tests – Doctors can rule out viruses or infections that cause AWS symptoms like EBV.



There is no treatment for AIWS. The best way to handle it is to rest.  It is important to reassure that the symptoms are not harmful. Treating the underlying cause of AIWS may prevent future episodes. Medication and relaxation can help reduce symptoms.



AIWS gets better over time. The syndrome may disappear entirely as you reach adulthood. It hardly causes any complications or problems. Almost around a third of people without a history of migraines developed them after experiencing AWIS.



1. National Health Helpline – 1800-180-1104


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Written by Brinda S

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Nidhi Dahiya

Amazing work….keep it up

Amna Alim

this is so beautifully written!


Got to learn something new. Thank you!

Arpitha H

Great read!

Gloria Gosain


Stuti Jhaveri

Learned something new today!! Well written 🙂 keep it up !!

Riya Rajkotiya

Got to know about a new concept
Beautifully written Brinda
Keep it up

Anish Dalapati

This is so nice

Khushi Patel

Great work

Disha Dhage

something new

Disha Dhage


Disha Dhage

keep it up

Disha Dhage

interesting article and topic to write on

Disha Dhage

well done

Disha Dhage


Disha Dhage

will share

Simone Morarka

A very interesting read!!

Simone Morarka

Looking forward to more of your work!!

Jigyasa vashistha

Amazing content


Interesting price of writing.

Athya Ashraf

Coming across a disorder like this for the first time. Very educative.
Keep up the good work!


I believe I had AIWS as a child and teenager, experiencing both pelopsia and teleopsia. It was frightening when I was a young child (younger than eight years old), because it would just happen for no apparent reason, and during episodes of pelopsia it felt like I was being crushed by the ceiling of the room I was in. Episodes occurred most often when I was having difficulty falling asleep. As I grew older, I learned I could make the distortion happen on demand, and I learned how to make it go away when it occurred on its own. The unbidden episodes diminished in frequency as I grew older (I don’t remember any after age 25 or so, which is decades ago) and I have lost the ability to make it happen on demand. I never told anyone about these episodes as a child; I just thought everyone experienced them, and once I learned to control them they no longer seemed remarkable. I never had migraines or other physical issues during the episodes.