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Olfactory Hallucinations

SHIRLEY L. RUBERT, M.D.; MARC H. HOLLENDER, M.D.; EDWARD G. MEHRHOF, B.A.
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(3):313-318. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710150095014.
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The belief that olfactory hallucinations are uncommon and portend a poor prognosis is widely held among psychiatrists. It has been handed down by word of mouth and in print, although statements to the contrary have appeared in the literature. Clinical experience at the Syracuse Psychiatric Hospital seemed to support this popular contention. In no more than one patient in a hundred presented to the hospital evaluation conferences were olfactory hallucinations noted, and in those few the outlook seemed poor. Although patients were asked about hallucinations—and much interest was expressed in this general subject8,11—they were not asked specifically about olfactory hallucinations. When inquiry was made concerning olfactory phenomena by one of us (M.H.H.), a different picture emerged. Within a few weeks, 6 patients reported well-defined olfactory hallucinations. In the initial cases, this information had not been obtained by the psychiatric residents who presented

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