science Things That Happen to You When You Have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome  

Laura Allan
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Most people know the story of Alice in Wonderland, either from the movies or the books. Well, do you remember the part when Alice grew and then shrank? First it was the "drink me" bottle, then it was mushrooms... either way, she just couldn't seem to get to be the right size! Well, as it turns out, there's a particular disorder based on those scenes called Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. It's a fairly recently discovery, and you might be wondering what having Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is like. Good news, because we're here to tell you.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome symptoms vary from person to person. Depending on your age, brain chemistry, gender, and other factors, you could experience this disorder in different ways. One thing stays the same, though: you don't feel your correct size.

Sound confusing? Don't worry, we've made an easy-to-understand list of things that happen to you when you have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. 

Your Body Will Either Feel Too Big or Too Small


Your Body Will Either Feel Too... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Things That Happen to You When You Have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Photo: John Tenniel/via alice-in-wonderland.net

The main symptom of AIWS is feeling that your body or parts of your body are not the size they should be. Imagine you're sitting calmly when you suddenly become aware that your hands feel very, very small. Even physically touching them does not shake the feeling that they're abnormally tiny. They even look small to you, or far away. This sensation is what someone with AIWS might feel.

In extreme cases, you might feel like your whole body is tiny, even inches tall, or that you are so huge, you can barely fit inside the room! Basically, you're just like Alice after she drinks from that shady little bottle. 

Things May Feel and Sound Wrong


Things May Feel and Sound Wron... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Things That Happen to You When You Have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Photo: John Tenniel/via alice-in-wonderland.net

Besides your own body not feeling quite right, the physical sensation of other objects, as well as sounds, may seem warped or altered. Things that are solid may feel spongy to you, or sharp. This is, again, your mind playing with how you perceive things. Even if what you're touching is a solid block of wood, your mind may be telling you it feels like you're holding a chunk of pound cake. Even the ground might feel soft! As far as noises go, things may sound very distant or at an abnormal pitch. These are both rarer symptoms than feeling your body is out of whack, but they can be extremely disorienting. 

You Won't Be Able to Keep Track of the Sizes of Objects Around You


You Won't Be Able to Keep ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Things That Happen to You When You Have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Photo: John Tenniel/via Wikimedia

There are times when people with AIWS retain an accurate sense of their own body, but the world around them is all sorts of twisted. Object sizes may be wrong. Things may feel very far away, or just tiny. Your brain may not understand that the table in front of you isn't several stories tall, or that the fork you're reaching for is actually closer than it appears. This can be stressful, especially when walking, because a hallway that in reality is only a few steps long may appear to stretch on forever. 

You'll Lose Your Understanding of the Passage of Time


You'll Lose Your Understan... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Things That Happen to You When You Have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Photo: John Tenniel/via Wikimedia

Though the feeling that time is off-kilter is rare for AIWS sufferers, it can be very disconcerting. As you go about your day, you may have a sense of zooming through time, or of time not passing at all. Time that has already passed may feel absurdly short, and a single day may feel like mere hours. This, again, seems most prevalent in children, particularly in males.