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Table of contents
PREFACE
TOUCH-1
TOUCH-2
TOUCH-3 (begin)
TOUCH-3 (end)
TOUCH-4 (begin)
TOUCH-4 (end)
SMELL-1
SMELL-2
SMELL-3.1
SMELL-3.2
SMELL-3.3
SMELL-3.4
SMELL-3.5
SMELL-4 (begin)
SMELL-4 (end)
SMELL-5
HEARING-1
HEARING-2
HEARING-3
VISION-1.1
VISION-1.2
VISION-1.3
VISION-2.1
VISION-2.2
VISION-2.3
VISION-2.4
VISION-3
VISION-4
VISION-5
APPENDIX A
APPENDIX B HISTORY-1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.2
APPENDIX B HISTORY-2.3
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.1
APPENDIX B HISTORY-3.2
INDEX OF AUTHORS

V. 

 

The Evil Effects of Excessive Olfactory Stimulation--The Symptoms of 

Vanillism--The Occasional Dangerous Results of the Odors of 

Flowers--Effects of Flowers on the Voice. 

 

 

The reality of the olfactory influences with which we have been concerned, 

however slight they may sometimes appear, is shown by the fact that odors, 

both agreeable and disagreeable, are stimulants, obeying the laws which 

hold good for stimulants generally. They whip up the nervous energies 

momentarily, but in the end, if the excitation is excessive and prolonged, 

they produce fatigue and exhaustion. This is clearly shown by Fere's 

elaborate experiments on the influences of odors, as compared with other 

sensory stimulants, on the amount of muscular work performed with the 

ergograph.[79] Commenting on the remark of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, that 

"man uses perfumes to impart energy to his passion," Fere remarks: "But 

perfumes cannot keep up the fires which they light." Their prolonged use 

involves fatigue, which is not different from that produced by excessive 

work, and reproduces all the bodily and psychic accompaniments of 

excessive work.[80] It is well known that workers in perfumes are apt to 

suffer from the inhalation of the odors amid which they live. Dealers in 

musk are said to be specially liable to precocious dementia. The symptoms 

generally experienced by the men and women who work in vanilla factories 

where the crude fruit is prepared for commerce have often been studied and 

are well known. They are due to the inhalation of the scent, which has all 

the properties of the aromatic aldehydes, and include skin eruptions,[81] 

general excitement, sleeplessness, headache, excessive menstruation, and 

irritable bladder. There is nearly always sexual excitement, which may be 

very pronounced.[82] 

 

We are here in the presence, it may be insisted, not of a nervous 

influence only, but of a direct effect of odor on the vital processes. The 

experiments of Tardif on the influence of perfumes on frogs and rabbits 

showed that a poisonous effect was exerted;[83] while Fere, by incubating 

fowls' eggs in the presence of musk, found repeatedly that many 

abnormalities occurred, and that development was retarded even in the 

embryos that remained normal; while he obtained somewhat similar results 

by using essences of lavender, cloves, etc.[84] The influence of odors is 

thus deeper than is indicated by their nervous effects; they act directly 

on nutrition. We are led, as Passy remarks, to regard odors as very 

intimately related to the physiological properties of organic substances, 

and the sense of smell as a detached fragment of generally sensibility, 

reacting to the same stimuli as general sensibility, but highly 

specialized in view of its protective function. 

 

The reality and subtlety of the influence of odors is further 

shown, by the cases in which very intense effects are produced 

even by the temporary inhalation of flowers or perfumes or other 


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