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What’s the difference between “heightened awareness” odor and “psychological” odor?


“Psychological” odor and “heightened awareness” odor are two different things.  A cascosmia (sensation of bad smell not related to a specific odor, or associated with olfactory stimuli) is the perception of odor based on memory of some - usually, traumatic experience (fire, sewage backflow) - when in reality there is nothing in the air to stimulate the olfactory system.  It’s purely psychological.  Again, the simple definition of cacosmia is “The perception of foul odor or stench when none exists.

Heightened awareness is the perception of odor by persons who have a better-developed olfactory system than most people.  Women, for example, especially when pregnant, have a heightened awareness of odor, to the point at which they become sick in some cases, while their husband can detect little or nothing. 

But as professional restorers, we have to deal with both types of odor.  Psychological odor can be dealt with using masking agents that provide the property owner something pleasant to smell until they become re-oriented to their restored property.  However, we never should write off our clients who are hypersensitive, just because we, our employees, the man of the house, or even the insurance representative can’t smell it. 

Jeff Bishop, SCRT Technical Advisor

406 Forsythia Lane

Dothan, AL 36305

334.790.3145 mobile


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