The Scent of Desire by Rachel Herz
Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell

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Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But if you cannot smell, does the rose lose its sweetness?

The first and definitive book on the psychology of smell, The Scent of Desire traces the importance of smell in our lives, from nourishment to procreation to our relationships with the people closest to us and the world at large. Smell was the very first sense to evolve and is located in the same part of the brain that processes emotion, memory, and motivation. To our ancestors, the sense of smell wasn't just important, it was crucial to existence and it remains so today. Our emotional, physical, even sexual lives are profoundly shaped by both our reactions to and interpretations of different smells.

Why do some people like a certain smell and others hate it? Is smell personal or cultural? How does smell affect our choices and our daily lives? Rachel Herz explores these questions and examines the role smell plays in our lives, and how this most essential of senses is imperative to our physical and emotional well-being. Herz investigates how our sense of smell functions, examines what purpose it serves, and shows how inextricably it is linked to our survival. She introduces us to people who have lost their ability to smell and shows how their experiences confirm this sense's importance by illuminating the traumatic effect its loss has on the quality of day-to-day living. Herz illustrates how profoundly scent and the sense of smell affect our daily lives with numerous examples and personal accounts based on her years of research.

The wonders of our sense of smell are all explored in a compelling and engaging manner, from emotions and memory to aromatherapy and pheromones. For anyone who has ever wondered about human nature or been curious about the secrets of both the body and the mind, The Scent of Desire is a fascinating, down-to-earth tour of the psychology and biology of our most neglected sense, the sense of smell.


About Rachel Herz

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Rachel Herz is a psychologist specializing in smell and emotion. She teaches at Brown University, is a professional consultant, and serves as an expert witness in court cases. The author of The Scent of Desire, she lives in Rhode Island.
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 290 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Scent of Desire

Kirkus Reviews

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In thoughtful and accessible writing, Herz explains why it is that smells act as such direct conduits to emotional memories—think Proust and his famous madeleines—and why they have such a profound ability to affect our well-being (consider the lingering and distinctive smell in New York City afte...

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Publishers Weekly

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Emerging technologies of scent, such as electronic noses that can sniff out terrorists, breath analyzers that can detect diseases and marketing theories based on scents, are given a chapter, but Herz admits that she would rather see the development of technologies to restore the sense of smell to...

Aug 27 2007 | Read Full Review of The Scent of Desire: Discover...

BC Books

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While the information Herz shares in The Scent of Desire assures me that I'm not abnormal for liking the smell of cigarette smoke, I have no idea why the smell of it on my friend smelled good to me, I don't remember any particularly good memories associated with the smell of smoke as I am a non-s...

Nov 21 2007 | Read Full Review of The Scent of Desire: Discover...

BC Books

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I must admit that I was almost totally ignorant about our sense of smell until I read Rachel Herz's Scent of Desire.

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USA Today

(People who have lost their sense of smell often become dangerously depressed.) Herz examines the connection between taste and odor and the role smell plays in sexual attraction, as well as its power to evoke long-suppressed memories.

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