You May Have Alice In Wonderland Syndrome If This Happens To You

In 1865, British mathematician Charles Dodgson (more popularly known by his writing moniker, Lewis Carroll) would capture the imaginations of children and adults alike for many generations to come when he penned the fictional novel, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (via The Guardian).

If you have not read the novel — spoiler alert — a young girl named Alice dreams up a world of fancy as she chases a rabbit down its hole (via Britannica). The rabbit hole, literal and metaphorical at once, leads Alice into a series of adventures where she encounters strange distortions and misperceptions. For example, Alice grows and shrinks to cartoonish proportions; reaching the heights of a building and the irrelevance of a blade of grass (via Britannica).

While the book itself is fictional, the ideas explored by Carroll actually lend themselves to scientific inquiry (via BBC). In particular, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" shines a light on the human brain, and its powers of dreaming, imagination, language, and memory.

Incredibly, Carroll's literary creation would aptly describe the symptoms of one of medicine's most bizarre and rare neurological conditions (via Healthline). Here's what happens when people experience Wonderland in real life.

Alice in Wonderland syndrome: symptoms, a true story, and causes

In the 1950s, British psychiatrist John Todd coined Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) to describe the strange perceptual experiences that patients with epilepsy or migraines reported (via the American Academy of Neurology). Notably, he connected the patients' experiences to those of the main character (Alice) in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

According to Healthline, the symptoms of Alice in Wonderland syndrome are variable. You may notice that time seems to pass quite slowly or too fast. Sounds may be louder or quieter than usual. You may notice that objects around you — or even your own body — grow or shrink.

Helene Stapinksi described an episode of Alice in Wonderland syndrome in a piece for the New York Times. "I too would 'see things far away...' as if everything in the room were at the wrong end of a telescope. The episodes could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, but they eventually faded as I grew older," Stapinksi wrote (via the New York Times).

While the exact cause of Alice in Wonderland syndrome is unknown, irregular blood flow in the brain may be the source of the odd perceptions (via Healthline). In short, it is not an issue with your eyes or psychosis. According to MedicalNewsToday, migraines and viral infections are often deemed the causes of the rare condition.