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The Relationships Between Emotion, Perfumes and Fragrances

Contact Author Steve Van Toiler
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In the booklet The Forgotten Nose, published in 1984 by the Fragrance Foundation, New York, there are a number of quotations which suggest a special link between emotion and the sense of smell. In this publication, Cain draws attention to the connections between the olfactory tissues and “the part of the brain that deals with emotion.” Groupy is quoted as saying, “the sense of smell has powerful and direct connection with our emotions, more so than any other sensory system.” There are other quotations in this interesting publication which link emotion and odor.

Similarly, reading the general literature on perfumery we find remarks suggesting a special relationship between emotion and perfume. However, despite such statements, there have been few actual suggestions as to how emotion and olfaction might be linked. However, there are a few clues and I feel that we can move towards looking to see how the sensory systems of olfaction and emotion come together.

A good place to begin to understand smell and emotion is with the insightful novel by Suskind (1985). This book presents its readers with an opportunity to discard, or at least begin to reduce, Homo sapien’s visual bias. Suskind's story is about a human freak, called Grenouille, who possesses a phenomenal olfactory ability. Like an animal, Grenouille is able to remember the olfactory imprint of everybody he meets. Immediately he is able to discern mood and likely actions by a person’s smell. This amazing book should be read by everyone concerned or interested in smells. However, it is a work of fiction and imagination, and one might question if it could happen in reality.

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