What is AWS?

Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AWS) is a rare that causes temporary episodes of distorted perception and disorientation. You may feel larger or smaller than you actually are. You may also find that the room you're in - or the surrounding furniture - seems to shift and feel further away or closer than it really is.

These episodes aren not the result of a problem with your eyes or a hallucination. They're caused by changes in how your brain perceives the environment you're in and how your body looks.

This syndrome can affect multiple senses, including vision, touch, and hearing. You may also lose a sense of time. Time may seem to pass faster or slower than you think.

AWS primarily affects children and young adults. Most people grow out the disordered perceptions as they age, but it's still possible to experience this in adulthood.

AWS is also known as Todd's syndrome. That's because it was first identified in the 1950s by Dr. John Todd, a British psychiatrist. He noted that the symptoms and recorded anecdotes of this syndrome closely resembled episodes that the character Alice Liddell experienced in Lewis Carroll's novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Lewis Caroll Alice's Adventure in Wonderland novel