Hypnotic Olfactory Hallucinations

Olfactory hallucinations (smelling odors that are not present) are intrusive and disruptive yet challenging to investigate because they cannot be produced on demand. In this study, the authors attempted to model olfactory hallucinations using hypnotic suggestions. We gave some subjects a suggestion to smell an odor in the absence of a real odor (positive hallucination) and gave others a suggestion to smell nothing in the presence of a real odor (negative hallucination). High hypnotizable individuals who received the positive hallucination reported intense smells whereas those who received the negative hallucination reported a reduction in intensity. These suggestions also influenced later recall about frequency of odor presentation. Findings are discussed in terms of reality monitoring and differences between positive and negative hallucinations.