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Alice in Wonderland-syndrome

FSW Professor Jan Dirk Blom has written a book on Alice in Wonderland syndrome. This is the first scientific book on this rare disorder, which was first described in 1955 by the British psychiatrist John Todd. Todd was inspired by the famous book by Lewis Carroll, in which Alice experiences all kinds of curious adventures: she finds herself growing larger and smaller, and sees numerous things changing shape. These are also among the phenomena experienced by individuals with Alice in Wonderland syndrome.

J.D. Blom
02 December 2019

Perceptual disorder

Patients with Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) experience attacks during which they perceive themselves or their surroundings as distorted. Thus, AIWS is a perceptual disorder characterised by distortions. The disorder should not be mistaken for psychosis, since both the underlying causes and the treatment of these disorders are very different. In his book, Jan Dirk introduces several of his patients from his Outpatient Clinic for Unusual Psychiatric Syndromes at Parnassia, The Hague. He explains what AIWS is, what causes it, and how it can be treated. Since the syndrome does not feature in the DSM-5 and other psychiatric handbooks, he also indicates how it can be diagnosed and what supplementary investigations are required.

Did Lewis Carroll himself suffer from Alice in Wonderland syndrome?

In the book, Alice experiences no fewer than 13 symptoms of AIWS. For this reason, it has long been suspected that Lewis Carroll himself may also have suffered from the syndrome. Why else would he include so many of these rare perceptual phenomena in a children’s book? To answer that question, Jan Dirk studied Carroll’s diaries. He revisits the theme throughout his book, which therefore also reads like a medical detective story.

Want to order the book?

The book is a scholarly publication, but it is very accessible and will also appeal to a broader readership. It can be ordered through major online bookstores such as Amazon and Bol.com, or directly at Springer Nature

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