The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell, by Rachel Herz is a new book on the psychology of smell, that promises much -- that is, to astonish as it informs. There are a number of things not commonly known about this most mysterious of the senses, and one is that our receptors for smell outnumber all the others, except for vision. So it would seem that our sense of smell is a huge factor in our experience of reality. Another is that olfactory sensations shut down while we are asleep -- something I had not even thought about, but again, this goes to show there must be very important elements of memory and consciousness at play in our experience of a scent. But even scents we are not completely aware of can alter our perceptions, such as certain very minute, trace elements in a person's scent that triggers strong sexual attraction. This is especially true for women towards men. (This is the appeal to our deepest motivations which are behind all those sexy perfume ads -- but now I'm not sure those ads are very relevant; they should be depicting women swooning over men because of a fragrance rather than the other way around. It appears that women have a much deeper cyclical, whole body integration with their own particular sense of smell. Men appear to be much more visually motivated).
I have read some fascinating reviews, and have it on pre-order. The book will be out October 8. This book has to be a must read for anyone seriously interested in fragrance.
Also interesting is the view that aromatherapy is driven entirely by emotional association with a scent, rather than from any other property innately part of that particular smell. This is not the same as saying that many of the plant substances perfumes are derived from do not have some powerful and demonstrable medicinal effects and uses in their own right.
I am really looking forward to getting my hands on this book...