Is it possible to imagine a smell?

My grandmother died on December 28 and I’ve been somewhat depressed ever since. This morning, I woke up and thought about her. Then, I distinctly smelled her perfume, which is no longer manufactured, afaik. I smelled it for a few minutes and then it went away. It should be noted that my grandmother lived 1000 miles away and had never been to my house while she was living).

Am I crazy? Is it possible to imagine smells?

I think it’s quite common to imagine smells, actually. I know that I do it occaisonally…

Of course it is. Smell is intimately connected with memory.

from: Certain smells evoke stronger memories

I can think of alot of different scent memories just sitting here. Both positive and negative. I have always been really sensitive in that area. Thinking of how my Grandma’s house smells… :slight_smile: walking into a hospital and smelling Ether… :frowning:

This isn’t really applicable to your experience which I believe has been answered. But in the interest of fighting ignorance, it should be noted that olfactory hallucination can be a symptom of temperal lobe seizure.

Well I don’t know about smell but I do remember reading somewhere that you can’t actually remember what pain feels like. You know that you didn’t like it and can sorta remember it but its not really close to what it does feel like.

Would have been interesting to test that.

Scientist: Ok I want you to remember what it felt like to have some foreign object shoved through your hand.

Test Subject: Ok. I remember it.

Scientist: Now do you remember it to feel like this? Shoves pencil through the subjects hand

Test Subject: after screaming has stopped I guess I didn’t actually remember it that well.

Yes, it is very plausible. I’ve had it happen many times. As mentioned, smell is linked to memory. This is why certain smells will also evoke memories - crayons and playdough often make people think of specific incidents in childhood, etc.

A friend of mine had died in bed 3 years ago and was not discovered until a week later. I was asked to identify the body but the body was so decomposed that a positive ID was almost impossible. The smell was unbearable. For months afterwards I would wake up in the middle of the night and could swear that the bedroom was filled with the foul odor. It would be so bad that I would have to get out of the bedroom. Even 3 years later, the smell returns for a few seconds every now and then.

Eyikes! I had a similar experience, but only maybe one per cent as terrible! I was visiting a friend who didn’t clean his catboxes often enough, and, for the whole next day, I “smelled” cat poop.

So, yes, olfactory hallucinations are relatively common.

(Sympathies for what must have been a very troubling experience.)


I have just had a similar experience. Yesterday I went to a fruit and veg shop and there was a very strong butyric acid smell in the carpark due to some rancid rotting food. Over the next day I have smelt subtle rancid smells in three other places. It is not a smell I have smelt at all for about a year at least. The places I have been are not unusual.

So either:

  1. olfactory hallucination planted by yesterdays experience and triggered by a similar smell or other stimulous

  2. coincidently did smell same stuff

  3. just happened to notice the same smell that I would have normally missed if it were not for the recent sensitization of the brain to that smell

There could be a thesis in this.

In dreams past I’ve smelled and tasted things in my mind equally vivid to those experiences I’d have while waking. Sometimes better.

I forgot to mention in my reply that for some reason Lysol Spray triggers that awfull odor. When my wife uses the spray in the house I’m Gone.

When I think of my old lover (the one I think of as the love of my life) I know exactly what he smells like. I saw him a few months ago and the entire next day I swear I could smell him…