10 Sources of Body Odor That Aren't Just Sweat

The Mind
People with Olfactory Reference Syndrome falsely believe that they have a bad body odor. Image Source White/Thinkstock

While your nose picks up the chemicals that create aromas, it's your brain that actually tells you what you smell. That's one reason that patients who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders sometimes experience a loss of their olfactory abilities [source: Doty].

What's even more surprising, though, is that mental illness can make you believe that you smell terrible, even if you don't. Olfactory Reference Syndrome is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a false belief that you have a bad body odor. Eighty-five percent of people with the disease report that they actually can smell their own imaginary stink [source: Phillips and Menard].

Author's Note: 10 Sources of Body Odor That Aren't Just Sweat

You may have heard this one already, but if not, there's the famous story about Samuel Johnson, the 18th-century British poet and essayist. On a summer day in London, he paused to sit down on a park bench because he was perspiring so heavily. A young woman next to him complained that he smelled. "No Madam," he replied. "You smell. I stink."

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