Lilliputian hallucinations: A theory on the “wee folk”

fairiesShu Rhys, a 19th-century Welsh woman, reputedly went away with fairies and never returned.

If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you would know that I am Kinemortophobic. That is, I have a fear of zombies.
yea I know, placed in a situation where zombies were around, everyone would fear them as well. My fear extends to nightmares or night-terrors. So no, it’s not the same. I can watch zombie movies and everything will be fine; it’s just that every once and awhile I have these vivid nightmares and when I have these nightmares, I wake up sweaty and feeling very paranoid. It really is horrible. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually had a dream like this. So I think I’m overdue for one.

There is another thing that creeps me out, but unlike the zombies, this is not a phobia. Elves. Not like “Lord of the rings” elves, but more like gnomes or the “wee folk”. It’s well known that in almost every culture they exist. As tales, folklore and every day life. These creatures fall in the realm of the Elementals. They are mythological creatures that are categorized as follows:

  • gnomes, earth elementals
  • undines, water elementals
  • sylphs, air elementals
  • salamanders, fire elementals
  • I’m focusing on the earth elementals in the article. The “wee folk”. In fact in Iceland, they are really taken seriously. To a point were some people hire “Elf Spotters” to ensure that their land does not in any way interfere with the spirits. It’s known that building or blocking the trail of these spirits brings bad luck.

    I remember my grandmother telling stories of how the elves or gnomes would visit her at times and play pranks on her. She would tell the story of a house that her and my grandfather owned that harbored these things. On one occasion she mentioned that these beings would not let her sleep at night. Moving and shaking her bed at night and as funny as it sounds, they would tease or torment her by jumping over the candle she had placed in the middle of the floor of her bedroom.

    Of course one can say that this was just a grandmother telling a bedtime story to her grandkids, but the look in her face told a different story. She looked sincere and honest when she told the story. Maybe she just has a good poker face.

    I don’t particularly believe that these creatures exist, but I also don’t dismiss accounts of these just that easily. Some people who have claimed to witnessed them, are honest and sober people. I’ve read stories or reports of people who just happened to spot a 6 inch man standing by some weeds and darting off when being spotted. What are these creatures? or more importantly, how can someone see such things?

    One theory is focuses on Lilliputian hallucinations. These are hallucinations of objects shrunken in size, but who retain detail.
    Humans and animals being the more distinguished of them.

    The word Lilliputian comes from the fictional islands in the book “Gulliver’s Travels” in which this island was inhabited by people who were about half a foot tall.

    Lilliputian hallucinations affect very little people and is one of those odd medical cases rarely talked about. According to a book written by Leroy R. Les in 1909 “Hallucinations lilliputiennes“, the symptoms are described as being vivid and evoke varied responses including fear, anxiety or even pleasure.

    A known medical case of Lilliputian hallucination involves a “Mr. B”.

    Mr. B was a 25 year old middle class man that had a career and a family. A severe alcoholic, Mr. B started to experience hallucinations after decreasing his alcohol intake. Mr. B started to see little people. About a foot high in stature with colorful dresses, weird faces and big eyes and mouths. Some of them were even wearing glasses. Mr. B eventually thought that his home was haunted and moved his family to a different home. To his dismay, the little people were everywhere. Besides the hallucinations, he was suffering from physical side effects of cutting alcohol cold-turkey. Within time, his symptoms subsided and the little people never came back.

    Another case was that of a Mrs. C. An 80 year old widow from the UK who had an 18 month history of diminution of vision and visual hallucinations. She had reported seeing little men and women as well as little girls throughout her home. Hiding behind curtains and peeping through doors and cupboards.

    Mrs. C would see them eating yellow and black fish-like creatures at times. She also said that these little people liked to watch her get undress. Small cats were seen as well throughout her home. She would report tactile and olfactory hallucinations as well. Aside from her visual problems, she was diagnosed with Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Given the proper medication, her hallucinations decreased dramatically with time.

    The above cases where taken from Understanding a strange Phenomenon: Lilliputian hallucinations. Prabhat K. Chand & Pratima Murthy. Department of Psychiatry Kasturba Medical College, India.

    So what about the people who do not suffer from a medical condition? take the following case into consideration.

    October 12 1976 in Dunn, North Carolina. Eight year old Tonnlie barefoot was playing in a field of dried cornstalks when he suddenly saw a little man. The man was ‘not much bigger than a coke bottle’ dressed n black boots, blue trousers, and a blue shiny top, with a black ‘German-type hat’ with a pretty white tie. He seemed to be reaching for something in his back pocket, then froze, squeaked like a mouse, and ran off fast through the cornstalks. He left some footprints 2 1/4 inches long and 1 inch wide with boot marks in them. I know that there was a police report filed by Tonnlie’s mother. The patrolman at the scene took a photograph of the footprints that were left by the “little man”. I was not able to find the photos online, but I know they exist in a book I read a long time ago.

    Of course this can be brushed off as a practical joke done by a child and nothing more. But you still have to wonder, “what if…

    The “Lilliputian hallucination” theory is an attractive one. It can most certainly explain many cases of people seeing gnomes, fairies and such. As any other theory, it does not have a final concrete evidence to bring it from theory to a fact.

    Given the information that we know of Lilliputian hallucination, it is not a far stretch to say that this state of psychosis can attribute to the spread in the believe of earth elementals. Most times, from hearsay we get stories, from stories we get tales and from tales we get folklore.

    Not to say that Science can explain everything because if that was the case, we wouldn’t be here writing about cases of the paranormal and the like. Also, you must remember that most cases of these reported creatures have happened to people once and they can attest that they do not want to see them again.

    For me, I think these beings are things of folklore and tales, but there is always that possibility that lingers. That particular moment in someone’s life that was changed due to them witnessing something that they cannot explain. That moment in time in which the unexplainable seems so real and so exact that we quickly question our own beliefs and stare at the impossible and that impossibility now seems possible and it flips our world upside down. I know that feeling.