Background: The client is a woman in her late fifties with fibromyalgia, this had been diagnosed more than a decade prior. The first contact with me was for Pain management.
The initial interview with the husband present was honest and informative, the husband had had an extramarital relationship fifteen years earlier that lasted less than 6 months, the resolution was positive and the relationship continued, aided by prescribed antidepressants for more than three years. Within three months of the prescribed medication, the client lost all sense of taste and smell, she was advised by her GP that this was a side effect of her antidepressant medication. After nine months her sense of taste returned to about eighty per cent of what she perceived as normal, her GP informed her that once the sense of smell has gone it has gone forever.
Initial sessions are positive with the client able to accept hypnosis for pain management, during the fourth session without prewarning the client I regressed her to childhood and asked her to imagine playing in the garden, the grass has been cut and the smell is heavy in the air, she acknowledged the experience, moving on to teenage years going to a fish and chip shop with friends the smell of vinegar and illicit tobacco smoke. Moving on shopping with her first self earned money and buying perfume at the local department store, what had made it so appealing, its brand name and the type of bottle. Moving on having her first child (she had two) the smell of her new baby, the lotions and powder she used. At this point, I asked her husband to fetch me a bottle of vinegar from the kitchen, I suggested that she regress back to her teenage years standing with her friends, eating hot chips smothered in vinegar, at this point, I removed the top of the vinegar bottle and passed it in front of her nose, aked her to take three deep breaths through her nose and come back to her full wakeful awareness, on the second inhale she flinched, the third her eyes opened and flinched again, her first words were
“vinegar oh that’s strong”
“But you can’t smell I replied”
”Yes I can that’s vinegar”
at this point her husband became quite emotional and she went into the kitchen smelling and sniffing at anything she could find. clearly identifying things like lemons, coconut oil, perfume, apples, even the rubbish bin got a good sniff.
What had happened?
She had been told by her GP that it was a side effect of her medication. This was an authority figure who was dealing with her emotional state, depression. Her lost sense of smell was not due to any physical injury, her nose worked perfectly well. Her concerns were dismissed as a side effect of her medication and reinforced by the doctor when he said “once it’s gone then it’s gone forever” emotional reinforcement and acceptance by the patient as part of her critical faculty, I can’t smell anything. Hypnosis bypasses the critical faculty and a suggestion or idea is acceptable can you remember playing in the garden as a young girl and the smell of freshly cut grass? The memory was intact so by moving on through other components of her olfactory memory (odours and smells) she was able to revivify and recognise those memories. On coming to her normal waking awareness the emotional quandary. I cant smell, I was told I can’t smell, I haven’t been able to smell, pre-existing beliefs “that smells like vinegar” new beneficial information is presented. “How do you know?” “I can smell it?” “What else can you smell?” the search for more supportive information begins. Her nose and sense of smell are working fine and that was over seven years ago at the time of writing.