After falling down the rabbit hole, Alice came across a very tiny door with a talking doorknob. As she tried to get through to continue her chase of the white rabbit, she discovered she could not. She was much too big.
“Simply impassible,” said the doorknob. Then, he suggested she try the bottle on the table.
Alice turned around to see a table with a bottle on it magically appear out of thin air. She picked up the bottle and it said, ‘Drink Me’.
“Hmmm…” She was hesitant at first, worried of it being poison, but she decided to drink from the bottle anyway.
With each sip she took, Alice shrank and shrank in size!
“Goodness! What did I do?” Alice said puzzled.
The doorknob laughed as a tiny Alice fell the floor in astonishment.
“But look!” Alice exclaimed as she studied her new small body, “I’m just the right size!”
A Realistic Wonderland
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, things were no longer as they seemed. Objects around her became distorted in all sorts of funny ways, including things seeming smaller or bigger than they were. In reality, the same thing happens to people with micropsia and macropsia, which is also commonly referred to as the “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome (AIWS).
Micropsia and macropsia are perceptual disorders characterized by metamorphopsia, which is brief, transient episodes of visual distortions during which objects or body parts are distorted and perceived as being smaller or bigger in size. The perceptions commonly happen at night and can also occur in conjunction with certain viral infections.1
Turning the Cause into Inspiration
Although the causes for AIWS are still not exactly known, migraines, temporal lobe epilepsy, brain tumors, psychoactive drugs or Epstein-Barr virus infections are typically identified as possible causes.2 There is also no known treatment except for treatment of the conditions that induce AIWS.
Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll suffered from migraines which caused him to have episodes of micropsia. This inspired the idea of Alice seeing things smaller than they were in the novel.