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The Three Ps & The ‘Emotions’ Industry

The Therapeutic Scent - Oceanic Amber™ & The Emotions Business

There are many types of activities and businesses that are either directly or implicitly involved in the ‘Emotions Business’ including ;–

  • The Theatre, Opera, Musicals, Live Comedy, TV, Radio, …..
  • The new Social Media ; Facebook, Twitter, ……
  • (Clothes) Fashion business
  • International Perfumery
  • Aroma Therapy

We draw particular attention to the word-component – therapy – in Aroma Therapy. Aroma Therapy is now a well-supported and safe activity. Initially, it encountered opposition from the formal medical bodies but is now welcomed as a useful treatment for conditions such as anxiety as an increasing number of patients suffering from these condition now present themselves at doctor’s surgeries and many wish to avoid drug treatments.

We position Oceanic Amber™ in the now internationally accepted therapy of Aroma Therapy – with the important proviso that we take a scientific approach, Scientific Aroma Therapy™, to the topic - an approach based on our long record of achievements in olfactory and perfumery research.

A personal commentary from Dr George Dodd ….

‘I write to keep from going mad from the contradictions

I find among mankind - and to work some of those

contradictions out for myself.’

[ Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592 ]

 

The Study of Emotions in Psychology

The great joy, and a singular characteristic of humans, is the rich range of emotions in our lives. Our most vivid and vital memories are tinged, often strongly, with our feelings – that is what makes us humans. We recollect our tears of joy at a wedding, or birth, or even our favourite sports team collecting a great victory. Conversely, we remember the potent visceral feelings of terror when we narrowly avoided death in a road accident or when we waited for a possible fatal cancer diagnosis.

Emotions are the great glory of our humanity. They are extravagantly celebrated in opera and pop songs and in the other arts and, for most of us, they provide the central comfort, joys and pleasures of our lives.

However, when it comes to psychology, emotions turn out to be one of the trickiest subjects in scientific investigations - and we must not lose sight of the evident fact that psychology is a young and immature science in comparison with strong sciences such as organic chemistry or biochemistry. Indeed much of the psychology that affects our daily emotional lives is as much an art as a science, despite the powerful wish of all psychologists to be regarded as part of the scientific community.

Much of the fundamental strong scientific research in psychology was actually achieved by physicists, physiologists and biochemists, and not by people who did conventional Psychology degrees. The major current theme of molecular medicine aspires to explain health and disease at the fundamental molecular level, but most psychologists do not receive a thorough grounding in the molecular sciences and so the accounts of feelings in popular psychology articles are often lacking in molecular explanations. This is particularly important for Scents and Aromas as these are fundamentally molecular phenomena.

I often feel that one of the standard tools of the psychology trade – rating scales – are sometimes perverse and unreliable tools, especially when the context of emotional expressions are not taken into account. Rating happiness by ticking boxes on a page is, in my experience of exploring the world of Aromas and Scents with both psychologically healthy people and also psychiatric patients, not nearly as useful as my ‘Mark-1’ eyeball test.

My speciality, in my work as a Perfumer, is in creating Personal Perfumes for clients. When I am sitting with a client who is sniffing particular scent molecules I never use rating scales but, covertly, out of the corner of my eye I can easily detect whether a probing diagnostic scent molecule is being registered as disgusting, or joyous or even ambivalence. When clients come back for more Personal Perfumes I know that I am acting and judging correctly, for this is the ‘real’ world and not the rarified artificial world of the sterile Psychology laboratory.

I sometimes give my clients a copy of the Plutchik wheel of emotions since it often helps them generate words to describe their feeling and mood reactions to specific aromas and scents.

Robert Plutchiks Wheel of Emotions

This section is being written with particular reference to the vexed question of Anxiety. In the course of my research, I have invented new aroma molecules that have induced significant anxiety and even profound disgust. However, I have also spent a lot of time in the opposite and happier scientific quest of identifying scent and aroma molecules that have helped quell signs of anxiety. The positive results of our endeavours are presented in Oceanic Amber™.

The Three Ps of My Life

In addition to being a Scientist, I have been a professional Perfumer for most of my life and the “Three Ps” of my life comprise Perfumery, Psychology (of Perfumery) and Psychiatry (especially the benefits of creative perfumery for patients.)

Perfumery

The first love of my life was smelling things and making perfumes. When I was 14 I had a sophisticated set of chemical glassware for making smelly chemicals and I taught myself elementary perfumery from the seminal text – ‘The Practice of Modern Perfumery’ by Dr. Paul Jellinek. How lucky it was that my first introduction came from a scientist in the great German tradition of organic chemistry and with a scientific critical approach to the phenomena of perfumery. This is in contrast to the French texts which paid undue deference to the dictats of the fashion industry and, with a few notable exceptions, were disinclined to ask probing scientific questions about the psychology of scents, contenting themselves with the romanticism of perfumes and the vast profits they made for the Classical French couturier clothes companies. By the time I was 16, working with a small Irish company, I was learning the basic perfume trade.

I studied chemistry in Trinity College, Dublin with research projects on spearmint type odours. I then began research on small molecules binding to proteins - the key event in the sense of smell - at the University of Oxford and acquired a D.Phil (Ph.D).

My entire adult life, both in academia and business, has been centred on Aroma Science, Perfumery, Aroma Therapy and all the Sciences related to the Sense of Smell.

 

Psychology

In The Warwick Olfaction Research Group [WORG] that I founded at the University of Warwick, UK in 1971, I had the first opportunity to pursue research on the fundamentals of Perfume Psychology - a topic that had up to then been virtually ignored by the industry. Steve Van Toller and I carried out some of the first experimental investigations in this difficult area with various research colleagues, including the first experimental demonstration of unconscious odour conditioning - a key concept for all of Perfumery and, especially, erotic and therapeutic Perfumery. We also organised the world’s first conferences on the new area of The Psychology of Perfumery (see References).

We were also the first scientists to take an interest in an olfactory topic of significant importance to contemporary society given the marked changes in demographics in the last 40 years. A high proportion of reactions to aromas and scents now come from senior citizens and relatively little attention has been given to their special psychological needs. Our research study Ageing and The Sense of Smell was published in 1985, over three decades ago demonstrating our pedigree in this field.

 

Psychiatry

  • The pioneering work of Dr Paul Jellinek on the psychology of perfumery and the thoughts of the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) were some of the inspirations that led me as early as the 1970s to begin studying the possible medical therapeutic benefits of aromas and scents.

‘Physicians might, I believe, make greater use of

scents than they do, for I have often noticed

that they cause changes in me, and act on

my spirits according to their qualities.’

[ Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592 ]

 

  • In the early 1980s I formed the company Osmotherapy Ltd on the then new Science Park at the University of Warwick. The prefix “osmo” comes from the Greek root for smell. I considered this new activity to be a scientific version of Aroma Therapy (I am a trained Aromatherapist). The chemistry of aromas and scents has made huge progress during the past fifty years and now we have an armoury of mood-inducing smell molecules that are much more powerful and interesting than the plant scent oils traditionally used in Aroma Therapy.

Osmotherapy carried out a trial of an anti-anxiety scent formulation at a private clinic in Harley Street, London. The results were encouraging and many of the patients preferred their aroma treatment to the drugs of the time because there were no side effects.

The international pharmaceutical industry of the 1980s happily discussed the Osmotherapy ideas with us but they could not see how the Osmotherapy feature of nil side effects would work alongside the blockbuster drugs of the time - a period when side effects were tolerated more and before the modern scrutiny of clinical trials of efficacy were initiated.

It is interesting to note that, because of ;

  • the huge costs of litigation (especially in the USA) resulting from severe side-effects of brain drugs and
  • the difficulties of carrying out adequate trials

several leading drug companies have withdrawn from research into drug treatments for anxiety. (See www.theguardian.com/science2011/jun/13/research-brain-disorders-under-threat for more information)

There is now, for the first time, significant interest in looking at olfactory possibilities.

  • In 1994 I joined the Highland Psychiatric Research Group led by Dr Iain Glen at the Craig Dunain Hospital, Inverness, Scotland. I achieved a number of goals including ;
  • breath diagnosis for monitoring schizophrenia
  • Human mood scents
  • Scents for helping with anxiety
  • Creative perfumery classes for schizophrenic patients (as part of their Arts Therapy programme. This is now a primary focus of a charity I plan to start in 2016 – The Aroma Foundation (TAF))

 

 
Scientific Aroma Therapy from Scent and Aroma Technology Systems Limited