In 1909, the French psychiatrist Raoul Leroy experienced a strange mental phenomenon. He saw many people - colorful, friendly and different from each other. However, they all had one thing in common - they were tiny. Leroy described these miniature characters in a scientific article, calling this phenomenon "Lilliputian hallucinations," after the Lilliputians from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Some people see tiny creatures jumping over tables and shelves. This rare disease is called "Lilliputian hallucinations", and now the Dutch scientist has detailed what these "Lilliputians" look like and why they appear.
In a study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, Dutch psychiatrist Jan Dirk Blom analyzed 226 documented cases of Lilliputian hallucinations and compiled a systematic review of the phenomenon. The scientist told how rare these hallucinations are, how they are treated and whether they should be feared.
According to the review, people with Lilliputian hallucinations see many different characters walking in front of their eyes and sometimes interacting with the patient. The average height of midgets is only 23 centimeters. In some cases, there are several dozen of these figures, in others - millions. Some patients have seen them for a few seconds, while others have seen them for most of their lives.
These midgets most often looked like "tiny men, women, children, gnomes, demons, or gnomes." Sometimes they were dressed as "harlequins, clowns, dancers, soldiers, or peasants."
Blom estimated that about 30-80 out of 10,000 patients in psychiatric hospitals experienced Lilliputian hallucinations. These hallucinations were not harmless: 18% of all hallucinations became chronic, and 8% of patients died while experiencing them. It is likely that hallucinations were not the immediate cause of these deaths, but they may have contributed.
Lilliputians did not always turn out to be friendly and welcoming, as Raoul Leroy previously described them: in 46% of cases, patients reported that small figures "frightened" or "annoyed" them.
About half of the cases of Lilliputian hallucinations were caused by schizophrenic spectrum disorders, alcohol use disorders, or loss of vision. However, the other half could not be identified.