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Alice in Wonderland syndrome: When perception distorts reality

Nine-year-old Josh Firth from Canberra, Australia, was the first to notice something strange happening to the buildings on either side of the car he was in with his parents. They seemed to be getting bigger, and when he told his mother, Sonja, she was baffled as she couldn’t see any difference.

After two years, the family discovered that Josh suffers from a rare disorder called Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS), sometimes called Todd’s syndrome, which affects the way people perceive the world around them.

The BBC explores the symptoms of the disorder, its history, and its potential causes in a recent article.

Some of these symptoms include seeing people’s faces changing and becoming “distorted” to look like things like dragons. Dragon faces are just one of forty physical changes people with this syndrome may see on others. They also report seeing extra limbs added onto others.

It highlights the need for doctors to take patients describing these symptoms seriously and how understanding the syndrome could provide vital insights into how our brains interpret the world around us.

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