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January 12, 1990

Perfumery: The Psychology and Biology of Fragrance

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Virginia Richmond

Medical College of Virginia Richmond

JAMA. 1990;263(2):310. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020156050

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The editors of this book have attempted to bring together aspects of the biology and psychology of scents on a comprehensive though elementary level, and it should be pointed out right from the start what the book is not. It is not a comprehensive study of the neurophysiology or neuroanatomy of olfaction. It is clear from the language of the book that it is primarily directed toward perfumers or at least to those who are well versed in the perfumers' art.

The book is divided into five parts; the first contains a discussion of the authors' teleologic theory of why humans have evolved with a poor sense of smell (so as to preserve the nuclear family) and why the use of fragrances has become acceptable. The second part is an interesting account of the response to natural human odors, in particular some of the "odorous steroids" secreted in sweat.