The Perfume

Novel by Patrik Suskin

“The perfume” initiates with the birth of the personage and the author of the book initiates the story revealing the olfactory link that exists between the mother and her child.
The mother rejects her baby because he is odourless, he produces no pheromones and without them she does not recognize the child as hers.
Among the smell produced by the new-borns, the most important one is the one emanating on the top of the head. It is a scent very reminiscent of Iris root, beautiful and tender, and in order to have most effect on the mothers, nature placed just under their nose when they give milk their child. This allows the strongest emotional association between smell and memory.
This scent, during the few month in which it is produced by the infant, has a direct effect on the production of milk, on the ovulation, on the libido of women and on the tightening the maternal link. This chain of physical events in the body of the mother caused by the pheromones of the new born is called “primary effect”. It is caused by the olfactory bulb that activates the endocrine system.

A human being is not just an animal, he possesses an intellect and has a spirituality. The reaction of Grenouille’s mother is not plausible or likely at all in the real world. The mother rejecting her child is an archetype of human dramas. It happens to women through tearing emotions, social and economic pressures and psychological trauma.
There is not any of such things in the novel. The mother just drops him by the street because he does not have a smell. The whole human drama is missing, because in the universe of this book, people are controlled by their sense of smell exactly like animals and they lack the psychological moral and ethical dimensions that made some novels such great literary works.

The problem is that all the characters in the book are like that. One may think that depicting human beings so devoid of psychological existence was just a necessary literary trick, necessary in order to expose the compelling nature of human sense of smell, but I believe that it is rather an incapacity of the author to imagine and narrate human characters with all their complexity being confronted with their animal nature through their sense of smell.
This is true for the most important of them, Grenouille, who is doted of an exceptional capacity of perceiving odours. He is the most devoid of psychology of all the novel’s characters.

In any case the author, in order to justify this, situates the story in an epoch and in a social ambient where it is more plausible that people have lost a their humanity and behave more like animals than like human beings.
The whole book is proceeding on the same line, build on huge human archetypes treated in a cheap way. After the abandon of the child by the mother, murder, treason, desire to be loved and more.

Instead of describing the inner dramas that bring a human being to such inhuman actions, the author describes characters personages who do not have any psychology at all and who looks more like robots than persons.

As a fan of good literature, for me the book has very literary value if any.

In this insane world where everything true about perfume is inverted, the effect of scents transforms human beings in animals instead of being a source of civilisation, harmony and equilibrium.

As a perfumer I find this totally pervert and likely to infuse a collective knowledge that will confuse people instead of educating them, not only about our sense of smell but above all about the real nature of the relation between our humanity and our animal nature.

The culminating point of the story is when the crowds, made crazy by the beautiful perfume of love and tenderness that Grenouille is wearing, tears to pieces and devours the pervert perfumer, in another great archetype, the one of human cannibalism.
This perfume of perfection is distilled from the skin of young lovable young girls. It is not explained how the effect of the perfume became so “gourmand” on Grenouille

The whole “ethical” justification of the actions of the character Grenouille resides in his desire to be loved, but it is just another cheap fake of the author.

As a researcher in the field of pheromones, I see that the novel “The Perfume” has the merit to reveal their existence and their effect in a spectacular way to an immense public, preparing it for a real collective knowledge about our pheromones and our sense of smell, which is knowledge about ourselves.
Knowledge of ourselves is the knowledge that opens to us the doors of truth. As the Sufis say: “Who knows himself knows his Lord”.

Enciclopedy of essencial oils, Julia Lawless,  (The best book to know essencial oils)

Il grande libro dell’aromaterapia e aromacosmesi, Xenia (The best book to understand aromatherapy in it’s different aspects)

The fragrant farmacy, Valery Ann Worwood, Bantam books (the best guide to practice aromatherapy)

Fragranze. Psicologia e biologia del profumo, Dodd e Van Toller, Ed. Aporie

Aromatherapy scent and psiche Peter & Kate Damian, Healing arts press. One of the few books on psico-aromatherapy.

Cura delle malattie con le essenze delle piante, Jean Valnet,  Ed.Giunti (Translated in all linguages, this famous work from the french doctor pioneer of Aromatherapy).

L’aromaterpie exactement, Fondements, demonstration, illustration et applications d’une science medicale naturelle, Roger Jollois editeur, 1990, 51 rue Montmailler 87000 Limoges (The most “scientific” recent work, from the heirs of Valnet).

Le marketing olfactif. La réference commerciale, juridique et créative du parfum et des odeurs. Ed. LPM Les presses du management 199941 rue Grenata 75002 Paris.

Dussauce book on Perfumery, free resource ebook to Free download

First aid aromatherapy course by AbdesSalaam Attar Free download

Subtle Aromatherapy, Patricia Davis:  Aromatherapy and cristal therapy, chakras and vibrational therapies. The most “New Age” aromatherapy book. (

Terapie esoteriche (vol 1), Dietmar Kramer, Ed Mediterranee

Guy Robert speach at the Brittish Society of Perfumers 1989

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez The guide