- lilliputian hallucination
- A term used to denote a hallucination featuring miniature individuals, animals, objects, or fantasy figures. The notion of lilliputian hallucination constitutes the logical and conceptual counterpart of the "gulliverian hallucination. Both terms are borrowed from the novel Gulliver's Travels by the Irish poet and author Jonathan Swift (16671745). It is known that Swift suffered from symptoms reminiscent of Meniere's disease and that he experienced cognitive changes, memory impairment, personality alterations, language disorder, and facial paralysis during the last 3 years of his life. It has been speculated that the miniature and giant figures he describes in Gulliver's Travels were inspired by " visual hallucinations that he experienced himself. The term hallucination lilliputienne was introduced into the medical jargon in 1909 by the French psychiatrist Raoul Leroy. However, the phenomenon itself was described much earlier. In the oldest known text that seems to refer to lilliputian hallucinations, St. Macarius the Elder of Alexandria (AD 300-390) speaks of "little strangers". Ancient Siberian peoples referred to 'fly-agaric men' and 'amanita girls' in connection with the lilliputian hallucinations said to occur in the context of Amanita intoxication. According to the French psychiatrist Henri Ey (1900-1977), lilliputian hallucinations differ from gulliverian ones not only in their perceived size but also in the affective tone which they evoke. Ey depicts the little beings as gay, joyous creatures that jump and dance, climb onto tables, leave through doors or windows, and march around like troops of little soldiers. In contrast to the allegedly sombre colours of gulliverian hallucinations, they tend to display brilliantly coloured outfits. A special feature of lilliputian hallucinations is that they sometimes metamorphize into different creatures. Like the French psychiatrist Jean-Jacques Lhermitte (1877-1959), Ey is convinced that lilliputian hallucinations not only occur within the context ofmental disease but are also experienced by otherwise healthy persons. They have been described in individuals with such varied conditions as alcohol withdrawal, acute nicotine intoxication, "delirium, dementia, migraine, " Charles Bonnet syndrome, toxo-plasmosis infection, basilar migraine, and mes-encephalic lesions. In individuals with a clinical diagnosis of " schizophrenia they would appear to be relatively rare. Except for their occurrence in the context of "peduncular hallucinosis, the pathophysiology of lilliputian hallucinations is largely unknown. Lilliputian hallucinations should not be confused with " microscopic hallucinations or "microptic hallucinations. According to Leroy, in the case of lilliputian hallucinations "the subject has an absolutely normal conception of the size of the surrounding objects, [while] the perception of littleness has a bearing on nothing but the hallucination." Neither should they be confused with lilliputian-ism, Lilliput sight, and Lilliput vision, which are all synonyms for "micropsia. Depending on the number of sensory modalities in which they appear, lilliputian hallucinations can be classified either as "visual or "compound hallucinations.ReferencesChand, P.K., Murthy, P. (2007). Understanding a strange phenomenon: Lilliputian hallucinations. German Journal of Psychiatry, 10, 21-24.Ey, H. (2004). Traité des hallucinations. Tome 1. Paris: Claude Tchou pour la Bibliothèque des Introuvables.Leroy, R. (1909). Les hallucinations lilliputiennes. Annales Médico-psychologiques, 10, 278-294.Lewis, D.J. (1961). Lilliputian hallucinations in the functional psychoses. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, 6, 177-201.Lorch, M. (2006). Language and memory disorder in the case of Jonathan Swift: Considerations on retrospective diagnosis. Brain, 129, 3127-3137.Podoll, K., Robinson, D. (2001). Recurrent Lilliputian hallucinations as visual aura symptom in migraine. Cephalalgia, 21, 990-992.Rudgley, R. (1998). The encyclopaedia of psy-choactive substances. London: Little, Brown and Company.Swift, J. (1726). Gulliver's travels. London: Benj. Motte.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.