Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

 Reverend Charles Dodgson [i]

Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, was an English writer, mathematician, clergyman, and early photographer.  His most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel Through the Looking-Glass.  Reverend Dodgson suffered from migraine with aura and he projected the strange suffering of his own malady upon his characters, most typically Alice.

Migraine can have features where the individual sees things very big (macropsia) or very small (micropsia).  There also may be an illusion of bigness or smallness of body size and Alice experienced both of these odd psychological features after she fell down the rabbit hole and consumed cakes or mushrooms, or drank from unlabeled bottles.

Alice growing bigger [ii]

Alice also experienced sonophobia:

Where the noise came from, she couldn’t make out:  the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened.[iii]

Alice probably experienced aphasia while in the woods, "where things lacked names".  She knew a tree, but could not name it, and couldn’t remember her own name.

Migraine can be associated with vertigo, which Alice experienced when she fell down the hole, tunnel vision, which would be what she saw when she fell, and also the victim may see in his mind’s eye luminous, bright, C shaped objects that flicker or exude light.  This may be what Alice saw when she saw the Cheshire Cat’s smile.

I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly;

You make one quite giddy!  

“All right,” said the cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly,

beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin,

which remained sometime after the rest of it had gone.

“Well!  I’ve often seen a cat without a grin; thought Alice

“but a grin without a cat!” It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life! [iv]

 

 

[i] http://www.sodabob.com/Photos/Photographers/Carroll/chas-d.jpg

[ii] http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/02/24/opinion/25alice.1-190.jpg

[iii] http://www.literature.org/authors/carroll-lewis/alices-adventures-in-wonderland/

[iv] http://www.literature.org/authors/carroll-lewis/alices-adventures-in-wonderland/

44 Lewis Carroll httpwww.sodabob.comPhotosPhotographersCarrollchas-d.jpg.jpg