You could say that smell is somewhat involuntary-you can't exactly close it off like closing your eyes or stopping up your ears. You can try holding your nose but that won't last very long. Olfaction then is something that is automatic. Your nose is an open doorway through which smells of all kinds drift in whether we are consciously aware of them or not. Your mind can anticipate, modify, restrain or encourage emotional and behavioral responses to a fragrance.
Related to subliminal smells is learned memory reaction to a smell that links trauma to an aroma. When that same odor is smelled again, fear or the emotion originally experienced, gets triggered. For example, say as a child you were terrified of a teacher or older adult who wore a particular fragranced perfume. Learned memory of smell is hard to undo. In later life, that same perfume can evoke a sense of anxiety. What is most interesting in this research on subliminal odors is that you need not be consciously aware of an odor for it to have a psycho-physiological effect on you-even to influence your behavior.
Smell Linked to Taste
Have you ever noticed that when you have a cold and can't smell-food has lost its appeal? It's simply not appetizing. Smells not only give pleasure, they affect us physiologically and psychologically. Smell is closely linked to taste and can “turn on the juices" in anticipation of food or a treat! We call it “mouth watering" since our nose has signaled us that something good awaits our pallet. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of taste is actually smell. So food aroma enhances our appetite and hunger increases sensitivity to food aromas and when we are full-our smell sensitivity declines. Is this always true? Not in the case of obesity. Obesity reduces smell acuity.
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From Linda L. Smith, director of the Institute of Spiritual Ministry and Aromatherapy, Inc.