A world without the olfactory dimension

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article aims to describe what is it like to perceive reality when suffering from congenital anosmia. Nevertheless, this objective entails a fundamental difficulty. Since I have never had the experience of olfaction, it seems natural to me to live in a world lacking the olfactory dimension; this subjective perception is the only one I know and in consequence it is difficult to describe. For this reason, in recent years I have begun to develop long conversations with other people suffering from congenital anosmia, people who have lost their sense of olfaction in adulthood and also people with a good sense of smell. My goal is to draw a map showing the principal differences that might allow us to develop a systematic comparison. Obviously, this is not an experimental or quantitative scientific procedure, but only a modest attempt to compare personal stories about subjective experiences. It is a philosophical-literary exercise, and does not aim to be anything other than that. But I hope it will help to formulate meaningful questions, which would then need a properly scientific approach. In the first part of this article I want to try to describe how I became aware that other people could smell; and in a second part, I will try to examine the consequences of anosmia in different areas of everyday life: nourishment, relationships with people, own body perception, natural or urban environments perception, time perception, and finally aesthetic appreciation and the implications of living in a world without stench. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1296
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • Aesthetic appreciation
  • Anosmia
  • Environment perception
  • Nourishment
  • Olfaction
  • Perception
  • Stench
  • Time perception


Dive into the research topics of 'A world without the olfactory dimension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this