The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell

The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell

by Rachel Herz

But if you cannot smell, does the rose lose its sweetness?The first and definitive book on the psychology of smell, The Scent of Desire traces the importance of smell in our lives, from nourishment to procreation to our relationships with the people closest to us and the world at large.

Rachel Herz explores these questions and examines the role smell plays in our lives, and how this most essential of senses is imperative to our physical and emotional well-being.

Herz investigates how our sense of smell functions, examines what purpose it serves, and shows how inextricably it is linked to our survival.

She introduces us to people who have lost their ability to smell and shows how their experiences confirm this sense's importance by illuminating the traumatic effect its loss has on the quality of day-to-day living.

Herz illustrates how profoundly scent and the sense of smell affect our daily lives with numerous examples and personal accounts based on her years of research.The wonders of our sense of smell are all explored in a compelling and engaging manner, from emotions and memory to aromatherapy and pheromones.

For anyone who has ever wondered about human nature or been curious about the secrets of both the body and the mind, The Scent of Desire is a fascinating, down-to-earth tour of the psychology and biology of our most neglected sense, the sense of smell.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 3.73
  • Pages: 288
  • Publish Date: October 9th 2007 by William Morrow
  • Isbn10: 0060825375
  • Isbn13: 9780060825379

What People Think about "The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell"

I was dismayed to read that 80% of the elderly can be expected to lose their sense of smell; and she offered no thoughts as to how anyone can forestall that terrible fate, other than abstaining from smoking. I was also intrigued by her discussion of chemical sensitiviy syndrome, which in my very limited experience looks like "odor sensitivity syndrome" instead. But, at the same time, to someone as olfactorily oriented as I am, elminating all odors from one's environment and body is almost like trying to erase the material world. Scent is like sound - the less there is in the environment, the more sensitive we become.

The areas of the brain that process smell and emotion are as intertwined and codependent as any two regions in the brain could possibly be. First encounters (i.e. novelty) are especially important in the development of odor preferences because if a smell is already familiar you would already have associations with it. This is also why most of our odor preferences seem to come from childhood. The central tenet of odor-associative learning is that how you feel when you first encounter a particular scent determines your future hedonic perception of it. (specific cultural and personal histories with particular scents) Trigeminal stimulation refers to the fact that almost all odors have a feel to them as well as a smell (e.g. the cool of menthol, the burning of ammonia). Aromatherapy works through psychology, as learned association can have real physical and emotional consequences (e.g. relaxation through smelling lavender), influencing mood, thoughts, behaviour and general well-being. A recent study by Monell Chemical Senses Center foudn that gay men prefer the smell of gay male sweat versus straight men or women. Body odor stands out not because women are actively avoiding men that smell bad, but rather they were enthusiastically seeking men who smelled gorgeous to them. Women judge symmetrical men (who are likely to be healthy and endowed with a tough immune system) as having better smelling body odor than less symmetrical men. Besides experiencing all tastes more intensely, they also experience 3-4x the burn intensity and 2-3x more creaminess and fattiness in foods than nontasters. As a result of greater taste sensitivity, and potential for quicker satiation on sweet and fatty foods, supertasters tend to have a somewhat lower BMI than nontasters. Flavour is the combination of basic taste sensations with smell. The most critical use for e-noses, however, is for sensing spoilage in products like meat, milk, and mayonnaise, where consumption of rancid food can lead to serious health consequences.

xvi) It deepens our emotional experiences, evokes powerful memories, activates our passions, influences our relationships and whom we find attractive (and even informs us of the best biological fit in a mate!), allows us to know ourselves better, and deeply affects our mental health, behaviors, and ability to learn and remember. Each of the eight chapters provides insight (or would that be inscent?) as to why our enigmatic sense of smell is so powerful: ***Chapter 1--The Sense of Desire "Smells are surer than sights or sounds to make your heartstrings crack."--Nabokov ***Chapter 2--As You Like It "A rose by any other name would not smell as sweet."--(not) Shakespeare ***Chapter 3--Scents of Time "Wherever I am in the world, all I need is the smell of eucalyptus to recover the list world or Adrogue, which today no doubt exists only in my memory."--Jorge Luis Borges ***Chapter 4--Aroma and Therapy "The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day."--Hippocrates ***Chapter 5--Scents and Sensuality "I knew I was going to marry my husband the minute I first smelled him.."--Estelle Campenni, 1995 (psychology professor, Marywood University) ***Chapter 6--The Odor of the Other "The lower classes smell."--George Orwell ***Chapter 7--Craving "There is no love sincerer than the love of food."--George Bernard Shaw ***Chapter 8--A Whiff of the Future "The nose of today knows no tomorrow.."--Rachel Herz The author's hope for the book is that "everyone who reads this book will cease to take their sense of smell for granted.

This gives a rather alarming spin to Mariska's early-morning face pounces.

Rachel used stories from real life studies, including her own.

If you are looking for a light, vaguely informative read on the subject that will probably lead nowhere deep, this is the right book to pick up.