Case of lilliputian hallucinations
In 1909, a famous French psychiatrist Raoul Leroy first described a strange medical condition dubbed as “lilliputian hallucinations” in his paper. His paper was written based on personal experiences. He wrote that the condition manifests with hallucination of figures of varying colours and appearances. And all these figures share one similar characteristic, that is, they are all very tiny. However, the pathology of the condition remained inconclusive because of a lack of research. Just recently, researcher Dr Jan Dirk Blom explored the mental disorder in a systematic review. The study explores the incidence, treatment approach and whether the condition poses as a threat to those suffering from it.
People who suffer from lilliputian hallucinations see an array of different characters which roam freely and often interact with the person too. “They involved tiny men, women, children, gnomes, imps, or dwarfs, often strikingly dressed as harlequins, clowns, dancers, soldiers, peasants, ‘mandarins’, ‘caftan wearers’, and so on. A recurring comment was that the figures were ‘rendered in exquisite detail’,” writes Professor Blom.
He further concluded that the hallucinations are not as harmless as previously perceived to be
The study reviewed 145 case reports and a series of cases, consisting of 226 case descriptions. The authors findings concluded that that lilliputian hallucinations are visual or multimodal in nature. He further stated that 97% of the cases are perceived as “grounded in the actual environment”. These findings are consistent with the fact that the hallucinations involve sensory perception and hallucinatory content. The aetiology of the condition is quite diverse. The study shows that 50% of the cases are associated with loss of vision, alcohol use disorder and schizophrenia spectrum disorder, whereas 36% of the cases are linked with neurological disease. According to the study, 62% of the cases showed full recovery, whereas 18% of the cases ended with chronicity and 8% ended in death.
The fact that 8% of the cases ended in death whilst experiencing the hallucinations questions the severity of the condition. The author also states that underlying causes may have contributed to the deaths and not the hallucinations.