- olfactory reference syndrome
- The term olfactory reference syndrome is indebted to the Latin verbs ol(e)facere (to smell) and referre (to report, to convey, to refer). It was introduced in or shortly before 1971 by the Canadian neurologist William E.M. Pryse-Phillips to denote a condition characterized by * olfactory hallucinations which the affected individual believes to be emanating from his or her own body (i.e. an *intrinsic olfactory hallucination). The hallucinated smells reported by individuals with an olfactory reference syndrome are typically excretory or sexual in nature (i.e. sweat, faeces, urine, sperm, menstrual blood, etc.). A hallucinated foul breath emanating from the oral cavity is referred to as * hallucinatory halitosis, so as to distinguish it from an objectifiable foul breath (i.e. halitosis). The term olfactory reference syndrome is used when there is no insight into the hallucinatory nature of the foul odour, and when the affected individual develops delusions of reference on the basis of this symptom, to the extent that he or she believes persons in their environment are showing signs of aversion or disgust. As noted by Pryse-Phillips on the basis of a study of a group of 137 individuals with olfactory hallucinations and varying clinical diagnoses, individuals with an olfactory reference syndrome "displayed a marked 'contrite' reaction in response. They washed their bodies and changed their clothes to excess, and tended to withdraw from their environment, particularly from social events". According to Pryse-Phillips, a similar behavioural pattern in individuals suffering from bodily hallucinated smells was reported as early as 1891 by an American author named C.S. Potts. Although Pryse-Phillips distinguishes the olfactory reference syndrome from olfactory hallucinations occurring in the context of depressive disorder, he suggests that it has a significant potential to develop into a reactive type of depression.ReferencesPryse-Phillips, W. (1971). An olfactory reference syndrome. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 47, 484-509.Spitzer, M. (1988). Halluzinationen. Ein Beitrag zur allgemeinen und klinischen Psychopathologie. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.