Pungent addiction

Do you like pungent smells or do you run away from them? Human mind is a mystery on many levels,  and we are still trying to decipher the depth to which we understand its capacity. Developing likeness to certain types of smells is an amazing trick your brain plays with you. Let me explain. 

A lot of people are surprised to admit that they are addicted to the smell of certain items that aren’t really, to put it lightly, aromatic. One of the biggest examples is garlic. Garlic has a peculiar pungent, sticky odour; but that doesn’t really stop a lot of people from enjoying it. The same goes with cheese. If you have taken a sniff of cheese, you would know that it actually smells really weird. Instead of repelling people, these unpleasant odours actually have the opposite effect. This begs the question: Are bad smells addictive?

In his 2013 paper “Glad To Be Sad, and Other Examples of Benign Masochism”, the psychologist Paul Rozin enumerates certain situations where people should naturally be repelled, but they aren’t. One such example is this sense of smell. For example, the Rafflesia flower gives off the sickly-sweet stench of rotting meat, designed to attract flies. Even though the stench is disgusting, many people go to visit the flower daily. This kind of behaviour is referred to as benign masochism.

This is the main reason why pungent and unpleasant smells like those of garlic, hing (asafoetida), rock salt, buttermilk, etc. are actually sort of addictive. Even if one knows that they are addictive, they feel some sort of strange need to smell it once again. Is there any particular smell that you love while others might not? Tell us all about it, and we would love to know.

Know more #InterestingFacts in this series of #PlantScienceFacts from #Atrimed.