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Pune Man Treated for Rare Condition Dubbed 'Alice in Wonderland' Syndrome

The patient suffered from recurrent bouts of 'Lilliputian'  hallucinations. Representational image.

The patient suffered from recurrent bouts of 'Lilliputian' hallucinations. Representational image.

The condition involves changes in visual perception such that people and things appear smaller than their actual size.

A 63-year-old man suffering from a rare neuropsychological condition has finally recovered in Pune but the strangest effect of this condition is that the sufferer experiences what are called “Lilliputian" hallucinations. Also called the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ syndrome, this condition involves changes in visual perception such that people and things appear smaller than their actual size. The patient in question suffered from hallucinations where he was being attacked by hundreds of men who were no larger than the size of one’s fingers.

According to a report by The Hindustan Times, the patient suffered from recurrent bouts of these hallucinations which were initially ignored by his family. He received medical attention only later, after which he has now almost recovered. The treatment took several months. “Around 200 people used to attack me. They were very small in size. My family members say that I then used to shout at them in a very loud voice. I am a retired person, and I stay home all the time. In a day, at least twice, I used to get a thought that I am being attacked by tiny people. Now, I can sleep peacefully and I do not get any thoughts that I am being attacked," the report quoted him as saying.

The report also cited Dr. Dharmendra Kendre, a neuropsychiatrist from Noble Hospital, who treated the patient. Explaining that the disease was so rare that it occurred only in about one in a million people, the disease can happen from drug intake or from metabolic or electrolyte imbalance. The doctor added that in the case of this particular patient, the hallucinations likely happened due to some kind of post-traumatic stress. He said that in senior citizens, post traumatic stress or even prolonged sleeplessness can cause hallucinations typical of this disease. The patient has been treated with antipsychotic medicines, and undergoes regular counselling sessions, according to Dr. Kendre.

The mental health and sleep of nearly one in five older adults worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, according to a survey. More than one in four were found to be more anxious or worried than before the Covid-19 era, according to the National Poll on Healthy Ageing. The poll, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in the US, involved more than 2,000 adults aged 50 to 80. The participants were surveyed in late January when vaccination was just opened for the elderly. The older adults felt more depressed or hopeless (28 per cent), nervous or anxious (34 per cent), and stressed (44 per cent). Nearly 64 per cent also faced trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least once.

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first published:August 02, 2021, 19:23 IST