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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2002 August;93(4):287-94

language: Italian

Obligatory and facultative symptoms of the Alice in wonderland syndrome

Podoll K., Ebel H., Robinson D., Nicola U.


The Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS), as described by Todd in 1955, denotes a variety of self-experienced paroxysmal body schema disturbances (obligatory core symptoms of the AIWS) which may co-occur with depersonalization, derealization, visual illusions and disorders of the time perception (facultative symptoms of the AIWS). The name comes, of course, from Lewis Carroll's 1865 novel ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'', which is believed to have been inspired by Carroll's own migraine experiences documented as early as 1856. Recent studies of the AIWS occurring as somesthetic migraine aura indicated that the body schema disturbance of macrosomatognosia most frequently affects the head and upper extremities, paralleling the extension of their representation in the human brain. As a misapprehension commonly encountered in the medical literature, it has been suggested to define the AIWS by the presence of visual rather than somesthetic perceptual disturbances, e.g. metamorphopsia and/or visual hallucinations, but this change and broadening of Todd's definition of the AIWS turns it to a both scientifically and clinically useless concept.

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