Saturday, January 31, 2009

Scent-triggered memories

Yesterday I found myself wondering why the scent of the dentist's rubber (or latex) gloves was so disturbing to me, almost as much as the sound of the whirring equipment.

One possible explanation is that I subconsciously associate that smell with the rubber gas mask I had to wear during the Gulf War in 1991. For seven weeks, Israel was attacked by Iraq with Scud rockets. Since it was feared that chemical weapons might be used, the population had to wear gas masks and take shelter when the sirens sounded. It appears that since then I have been disturbed by the scent of rubber, which I probably associate with fear, helplessness and confinement.

This is a well-known phenomenon, of scents triggering associations and memories. If any readers have similar experiences, please share them by commenting on this post.

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