In Building Healthy Communication, The Mandt System teaches how we use our senses to understand and react to the world around us. The purpose of the information is to inform instructors that when there are neurological issues that cause our senses to work differently, individuals may have challenges correctly interpreting and responding to what is occurring in the environment. Emphasis is placed on the olfactory system (sense of smell) and how smells can have even more of an impact on us than any of our other senses. Certain smells can cause people to not only recall but even re-experience events which may have been pleasant but might also have been painful. If a person receiving services was abused by someone who wore Old Spice cologne, that person may react negatively whenever they experience that smell. The Mandt System encourages the use of scent free products to avoid escalating someone who may associate certain fragrances with painful or distressful events.

An instructor, CW, shared an anecdote that helped to clarify this concept even further. Typically, the smell of chocolate chip cookies while baking would be a very pleasant experience. Most people would enjoy the smell even if they try to resist tasting the treat. However, it was the same day chocolate chip cookies were baked that CW’s family home went up in flames. To this day, the smell of cookies baking makes CW recall that feeling of loss and sadness. On the other hand, most people would recoil and avoid the smell of a skunk. However, CW associates that smell with the last camping trip she took with her much loved grandfather. While she may not seek out the smell, when it occurs it evokes a pleasant memory.

While it is important to be aware of scents and to be aware that fragrances can generally have a profound positive or negative impact on people, it is also important to remember that this must be individualized to understand the impact it may have on a particular person.

Aaryce Hayes – Mandt Faculty