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Wilson, G.W. (1959). Discussion. Psychoanal. Rev., 46D(4):74-76.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Review, 46D(4):74-76

Discussion Related Papers

George W. Wilson

My interest in what I came eventually to designate as “unsuccessful olfactory repression” was a direct result of my work with asthma and hay fever patients in the psychosomatic research project at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. It became evident to me that all of these patients demonstrated an extremely acute sense of smell when they were free of symptoms but this acuity became very much lessened with the advent of either symptom, particularly hay fever or rhinitis. F. Dunbar has made a similar observation.

I recalled that Freud had, on several occasions, called attention to olfactory repression. He wrote: “The diminution in importance of olfactory stimuli seems itself, however, to be a consequence of man's erecting himself from the earth, of his adoption of an upright gait….” 1 On several occasions Freud urged further investigation into the results of man's alteration from a “four-legged state” to complete assumption of the upright position and in so doing becoming more reliant upon his visual and auditory senses. R. Grinker states:

The importance of primitive olfaction as the first receptor of distant stimuli is further enhanced because it gave rise to the evolutionary trend from which the neo-cortex arose. Danger perceived from considerable distance permitted a slower and more adaptive response, which characterizes cortical activity, than stereotyped immediate reflex activity of lower levels of the neuraxis. As olfaction became less important in the primates and least in man, the large olfactory areas of the cortex, the massive subcortical system of connections and the olfactory portion of the diencephalon became more concerned with central regulation and adaptation of visceromotor activity and the visceral expressions of certain emotions.

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