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Sense of smell in dreams

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Susan_Y
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Sense of smell in dreams
PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

Inspired by this week's Lucidity Challenge on experiencing different senses in lucid dreams, I ran some database queries on some of the collections of dream reports that have been made available for research purposes.

I now have an interesting theory. It isn't confirmed yet, because the dream databases I was looking at don't have enough dreams to give statistically significant results. Still, I'll mention it here anyway:

In general, people very rarely experience a sense of smell in dreams. The main exception seems to be the scent of their partner's body (pheromones, etc). To formalize this as a statistical hypothesis: I conjecture that sex dreams (e.g. those that have a "sexuality" coding element in the Hall/Van de Castle coding) and dreams in which the dreamer experiences a sense of smell will turn out to be very highly correlated.


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GenghisKhan
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

Hmmmm, interesting smile

In my personal experience, I have seldom experienced the sense of smell during my dreams
One of my first lucids had perhaps the strongest occurrence: some sweets had a very strong and good smell of cinnamon, which I was still able to recall well after several days !
Only couple more times I have managed to smell hot coffee or chocolate, but I don't recall any dream smell linked to sexual activity in my case...


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Siiw
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

I remember from my childhood dreams with a very intense smell. Those were usually nightmares: I would walk into the house and find it on fire, there would be a chemical fire at a nearby factory, etc. The smell of smoke was painful in those dreams. The chemical fire dream had a smell of ammonia in it, and at that age I didn't know what ammonia was.

Last night, I had a fire nightmare again. This time it was an electric fire, and it smelled like a dusty computer, just much more intense. I also have a recurring fragment where the house smells, and I can't figure out where it comes from.

In lucid dreams, I can smell and taste perfectly. I have had excellent orange juice, wine, tea...and one of my most intense rage dreams involved the smell of bacon.



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Tggtt
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

Senses of taste and smell are perfect in my dreams. Not proud about it... I just woke up from a stinky dream.

Please add me and Siiw to the outliers then.

I hope I can cooperate with Susan_Y some day on more hypothesis testing.


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Susan_Y
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

I had a look to see if there was any published research on this subject, and found:

Olfactory Dreams: Phenomenology, Relationship to Volitional Imagery and Odor Identification. Richard J. Stevenson and Trevor I. Case. Imagination, Cognition and Personality. Vol 24 no 1, 2004.

They suggest that a sense of smell in dreams may be connected with higher emotional content, either positive or negative. The between-participants statistical test saw a statistically significant correlation; the within-participants test saw a correlation that was too small to be statistically significant.

So there is some evidence for this theory, though it's a bit inconclusive.

The association of smell with both negative and positive emotions fits with Siiw's dreams where she smells smoke. (They're examples of smell + highly negative emotion).


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Siiw
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Nov, 2016  Reply with quote

This makes sense. The sense of smell is directly connected to a "primitive" part of the brain, which is responsible for among other things fear and other primal instincts. The dreams where I smell smoke are nightmares of fires.


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En'enra
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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017  Reply with quote

Interesting topic. I don't remember ever having a sense of smell in dreams before coming to LD4All, in fact I remember using that as a dream sign in one of the first dreams I wrote down in my DJ here: link

After posting that, multiple members of the forum told me they do have a sense of smell in dreams, so I made it a personal goal to have it too, and fulfilled it in a dream I can't seem to find. Its essence was that someone released deadly poison into the air, and I recognized it by its sweet smell.

Since then, I've had sense of smell in dreams, pleasant when it comes to food, and unpleasant usually in dreams with blood and gore.


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Letaali
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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017  Reply with quote

You smell passively in waking life, I think that's part of the reason it's rare in dreams. You focus on what you see and hear all the time, but you only focus on smelling occasionally.

It's not missing in dreams, like previous posters have said. If I actively try to smell something in a dream, I'm usually successful. I can recall smelling coffee and toxic chemicals in my dreams, I'm sure there are more but those are the first that come to mind.

If you make it your dreaming goal and focus on smelling different things in waking life, I'm sure you would start to smell more things in dreams.



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