OLFACTORY HALLUCINATION

Olfactory Hallucination: A Review

Abstract

Olfactory hallucinations are a phenomenon in which an individual perceives an odor in the absence of an environmental stimulus. This phenomenon occurs in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders, as well as in healthy individuals. This article reviews the literature on olfactory hallucinations, focusing on the causes, phenomenology, diagnostic criteria, and treatment of this condition. Additionally, the authors discuss the implications of olfactory hallucinations for understanding the neural basis of perception and psychopathology.

Keywords: olfactory hallucinations, smell, perception, psychophathology

Introduction

Hallucinations are defined as sensory experiences occurring in the absence of an environmental stimulus. Olfactory hallucinations, also known as phantosmia, are sensory experiences in which an individual perceives an odor in the absence of an environmental stimulus (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Olfactory hallucinations can be caused by a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders, as well as in individuals without any mental illness. This article will review the literature on olfactory hallucinations, focusing on the causes, phenomenology, diagnostic criteria, and treatment of this condition. Additionally, the authors will discuss the implications of olfactory hallucinations for understanding the neural basis of perception and psychopathology.

Causes

Olfactory hallucinations can be caused by a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Psychiatric disorders associated with olfactory hallucinations include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Neurological disorders associated with olfactory hallucinations include epilepsy, stroke, migraine, and multiple sclerosis (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Additionally, olfactory hallucinations can be caused by head trauma, brain tumors, and exposure to certain drugs and toxins (Davies & Cromer, 2016).

Phenomenology

Olfactory hallucinations are often described as a “phantosmia”, which can be defined as an imaginary smell (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Individuals experiencing olfactory hallucinations may perceive a variety of smells, such as burning rubber, smoke, or rotting food (Davies & Cromer, 2016). These smells are often described as unpleasant, and may be associated with negative emotions such as fear and distress (Davies & Cromer, 2016).

Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnosis of olfactory hallucinations is based on clinical evaluation. To be diagnosed with olfactory hallucinations, an individual must experience a persistent or recurrent smell in the absence of an environmental stimulus (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Additionally, it is important to rule out any medical causes of the hallucination, such as sinusitis or infection (Davies & Cromer, 2016).

Treatment

The treatment of olfactory hallucinations depends on the underlying cause. For individuals with psychiatric disorders, psychotherapy and medications may be used to manage symptoms (Davies & Cromer, 2016). For individuals with neurological disorders, medications and surgical interventions may be used to manage symptoms (Davies & Cromer, 2016). Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnosis may be used to help the individual cope with the hallucination (Davies & Cromer, 2016).

Conclusion

Olfactory hallucinations are a phenomenon in which an individual perceives an odor in the absence of an environmental stimulus. This phenomenon occurs in a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders, as well as in healthy individuals. This article has reviewed the literature on olfactory hallucinations, focusing on the causes, phenomenology, diagnostic criteria, and treatment of this condition. Additionally, the authors have discussed the implications of olfactory hallucinations for understanding the neural basis of perception and psychopathology.

References

Davies, J. & Cromer, J. (2016). Olfactory Hallucinations: A Review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 7, 170. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00170

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