New Visions of the Method of Smelling of the Imaginary Odor

Nikolay Linde

Ph.D. (Psychology). Professor, Moscow State University of Humanities; acting member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League,
practitioner -psychologist with more than 20 years experience; author of the method of Emotion Image Therapy.
Moscow, Russia, cell 8-916-531-0142; e-mail:

Lyudmila Makarova

Psychologist, Nizhnevartovsk; Russia, e-mail:

There are cases when some efforts are needed to feel the odor of the pain, but there are also cases when it seems to the client that the odor really exists at the place and it is just not felt by anybody else. In the majority of cases the odor is unpleasant: something burned, signed rubber, something rotten. In such cases the client normally refuses to concentrate on the task, but being persuaded to, the order becomes more intense and eventually vanishes alongside with the pain itself. In other cases it might be relatively tolerant odor of vanilla or bitter almond. With severe pain the odor is subjectively becomes of “worse quality” and more easily detected, but the pattern of recovery always being the same.

Me, Nikolay Linde, has been working on the advantages of the new method of the odor smelling since the beginning of the 90es. . Initially, this method was used with the so called heart pain attack, being intercostals neuralgia per se. It is also one of the forms of psychogenic algae. I reported about this method at several conferences and described it briefly in several publications (see [1-4]).

Although, I never claimed that the patients were cured with this method; I prefer to leave this question open, the problem not being studied completely.

In general, this method may be described as an advice given to the client by the psychotherapist. The client suffering with heart pain is suggested to imagine how the pain smells (as he/she believes it does), and then diligently smells this fancy odor until it’s over. All the clients mark on phenomenon occur: pain the client was suffering from is clearing away alongside with disappearing of the imaginary odor. With the whole session lasting for not longer than 3-5 minutes, the client gets back to his/her normal face color. He/she returns to the regular duties, i.e. to the normal activities, with no problems or fears. This phenomenon is confirmed by each and every client. Positive results are obtained in 100% cases if the client follows instructions.

There are cases when some efforts are needed to feel the odor of the pain, but there are also cases when it seems to the client that the odor really exists at the place and it is just not felt by anybody else. In the majority of cases the odor is unpleasant: something burned, signed rubber, something rotten. In such cases the client normally refuses to concentrate on the task, but being persuaded to, the order becomes more intense and eventually vanishes alongside with the pain itself. In other cases it might be relatively tolerant odor of vanilla or bitter almond. With severe pain the odor is subjectively becomes of “worse quality” and more easily detected, but the pattern of recovery always being the same.

I would like to begin with an example of when I used this method for the first time, the client being my wife. It was back in1992 or 1993. My wife was living at dacha (countryside house) with our small son, and I visited them frequently, although staying in Moscow. My wife was torn between looking for a job and babysitting the kid. It was tuff years in the history of Russia, and she was nervous about losing her chance to find a decent job. I didn’t want her to work, the son being too small, but she used to call her potential employers looking for the job offers. Once she called and learned that she lost the opportunity to get job she desired so much. She immediately felt severe heart pain. Her face became greenish; it turned into a mask with the extremely obvious signs of suffering on it. She could hardly move. I’ve never seen her like this before.

Having no medicines on hand and no opportunity to call for emergency help (we were too far from Moscow with no telephone connections), I suggested that she smelled the odor of her heart pain, as I knew that she would never accept any visual images at that time… She immediately started feeling some disgusting odor. It was so disgusting that she even refused to keep smelling it. But I insisted that she smelled explaining that it was the only chance for me to help her. She obeyed, and it took less than 5 minutes for the odor to vanish. In 20 minutes my wife fully recovered. Her face returned to its normal color, she felt much better and got back to her regular positive mood. She never experienced anything like that again for more than 3 years which might be considered as strong remission.

Another case which I would like to describe happened when I managed to help the cloakroom attendant in the institute I work. She complained of severe heart pain, but was unable to leave her working place as there was no back up. Also, she failed to find a painkiller, so she was just sitting quietly while nobody claimed for a coat, her face pale and her mimics “suffering”. I convinced her to try my method. She easily felt the odor of her pain as vanilla smell. She smelled it for 2-3 minutes with me standing nearby and watching her. In 3 minutes the odor vanished, her face returned to its normal color and she resumed working.

It was no less than 10-15 cases like these ones, I am sorry for not recording them. My students reported about similar cases but those cases were all random. Full remission was obtained in all the cases with no side effects. Unpleasant odor always vanished or was substituted with the odor of freshness, which manifested recovery.

This method is not recognized and widely used standing aside of traditional medical paradigm. When I reported about such cases at a medical conference, a doctor told me that I was treating the patient with the help of hallucination. Instead of scientific interest I faced rejection and indifference of my colleagues.

This theory definitely needs more research and investigation. At the moment the theory is based on the idea that transformation of the imaginary odor of pain gives the client opportunity to appeal to the recourses of the olfactory brain, which belongs to the most ancient structures of the brain and is responsible for the experience of emotions. Heart pain, being caused by some conflict emotions and the odor as a demonstration of emotion, helps to get its extra reflection of the sensitive perception of the client. This additional recourse of reflection of the emotion gives the opportunity for self correction of the experience thru the image of the odor. The odor being corrected simultaneously, accordingly corrects emotion expressed in it. When it is impossible to correct pain or emotion directly, the odor gives chance to the different approach – the one which supposes correction. Concentration on the attention on the imaginary odor includes unconscious work on its correction which leads to the correction of pain.

It’s interesting that finalizing the correction of pain is always accompanied by the odor of freshness or soft wind, or mint flavor. Same feelings might occur with the correction of other negative emotions, which do not cause the heart pain, even if the correction is achieved by means of working with the usual acoustic images. This allowed us to develop another “odorant” method. The idea of it is that the client should try to feel the odor of freshness in the painful part of the body, or in the part of the body where the client feels any discomfort. This method seems very effective on correction of different negative psychosomatic symptoms, giving wide scope of investigations in future.

However, I always knew that this method of the smelling of the imaginary odor has a lot to be discovered. I wish my students use it as a subject of their studies and widened the sphere of its application. And here came Lyudmila Makarova from the city of Nizhnevartovsk.

She started using this method in the diversity of cases, getting new results and suggesting new modifications of this method. Within rather short time frame (approximately a year) she managed to achieve good results in numerous cases of psychological and psychosomatic problems, these cases being very important for the studies and further development of the method.

It should be mentioned here that while working on negative emotional or psychosomatic condition, clients of Ms. Makarova feel the whole scope of odors, always wrapping up the session with the odor of mint or freshness accompanied with vanishing of negative condition.

Another interesting point is that due to the high level of her personal empathy, Ms. Makarova manages to feel the odors simultaneously with the client.

Text by Lyudmila A. Makarova

Due to the rapid temper of our everyday life, people often face problems with sleepiness, emotional lability, anxiety and depressions.

When people appeal to me with such cases, my goal is to provide them with urgent psychological aid using the method of smelling, developed by Professor N. D. Linde. First time I heard about this method was back in 2009 in the city of Nizhnevartovsk during the workshop, conducted by the professor. Since that time I use this method rather often with the results being obvious immediately. I never bother the client, who is in pain, with questions; I just suggest trying this method.

Normally people believe that they should go into details telling the psychologist everything about themselves. In this case they are very much surprised that they are not supposed to answer multiple questions. Why not to try then.

After the therapy all the clients mention that it is magic involved in here. The results exceed all expectations; pain vanishes without taking any medications. Working with this method I have no doubts about its effectiveness.

I myself feel the odors simultaneously with clients. These odors are very different depending on what type of personality the client is, whether it’s male or female, also depending of age, occupation, living conditions, etc.

Example 1.
Heart Pain (session by telephone), February 2009.

Client O., 51 years old. In deep depression for the past 3 years. Problems with business: lost 2 million rubles (approximately $670.000), big shorts… O. called me complaining on heart pain; she even decided to skip working that day. I told her about the method of smelling the odor. Besides, I warned the client that negative emotions might accumulate themselves in the body causing stresses and psychosomatic disorders.

I suggested “emotional cleaning” with the help of smelling: “let’s “smell” the heart pain until it’s over.

The client was recommended to mentally place the heart pain on her right hand and smell it, telling me what the odor was that she felt. She had to smell it until it was over. During the session I several times reminded the client (over the phone) that her pain was in her right palm and she had to smell it.

During the session the odors changed like in kaleidoscope: mud; fresh garlic; pus; rime (i.e. freshness – N.L.). Finally, O. said: “I can’t proceed talking to you anymore as I am yawning. I‘d better go to sleep.”

Her heart pain stopped; no complains. Her mood improved dramatically. After the session she took a nap for 5 hours, although it was morning. No heart pain any longer.

Example 2. Heart Pain

Client S., 32 years old, a saleswoman. She is a younger child of the aged parents, beloved by everybody. A year before her mother had passed away and she was in deep grief. The heart pain developed shortly after mother’s death. She underwent treatment at the hospital for 3 months with no success.

Pale face, slow movements. My sister asked me to help this young woman as she was losing her conciseness regularly. I called her, introduced myself and suggested that we work with her heart pain with the help of smelling: “Let’s smell “heart pain and our body will cure itself as if an internal doctor. You should “place your pain in your right palm, smell it and tell me what odor you feel”.

Imaginary odors went one after another: rotten pickles; burned matches; fried sunflower seeds, green apples; onion, boiled vegetables; boiled meat; lemon; onion again; cabbage; rotten potatoes; white callas; bread; tea with lemon; morning grass with dew (here comes the odor of freshness – N.L.); fried meat or liver; smell of burning; onion peels; odor of mountains; freshness.

The session was held in May 2009; since that time the client never complained of heart pain again.

Example 3. Occupational Fading

Client B., 36 years old. Therapy session by phone. The client does not live in Nizhnevartovsk. Business -lady.

Client is depressed, mad with customers, but no customers – no money to pay the bills. Being in a very low mood – “everything is bad”; suffering voice, no motivation to live. She was looking for support. I suggested that she “placed her depression on her palm and smelled it”. She was also asked to tell me what the odors were. Here was the list: chlorine; bandages; anesthesia; bandages again; blood; plants; forest; freshness.

The odors in the beginning went back to her medical background as a surgeon. After the session her voice sounded buoyant. Although the session took place in the evening, instead of going to bed, she decided to clean up the apartment. By phone, I heard her laughing. It goes without saying that her depression went away.

Example 4. Heart Pain

During professor Linde’s workshop in Nizhnevartovsk I was approached by young psychologist, who expressed her interest in the method. Her supervisor, who also participated in the workshop, was suffering of the heart pain.

They both asked me to show them how the method worked. When I asked the supervisor to place her pain on her palm, she immediately noticed that the palm became much heavier. She started smelling the odors right away and was very much surprised and happy that everything worked ok.

Here is the list of odors: soap; burned wire; odor of birch tree; wild flowers; frost (i.e. freshness – N.L.).

The heart pain vanished. The client became cheerful, more calm, her eyes shining.

Both she and her colleague couldn’t believe that the method worked so quickly and effectively within very short timeframe.

It took just several minutes during the coffee break. They asked me whether I felt all those odors myself.

I think that the clients who feel the odors of burned wire, burned sunflower seeds, or any other burned substance are experiencing occupational or psychological fading. Like this client who have been working as psychologist for more than 20 years for one and the same institution. I can’t agree with this idea! (N.L.)I think that the odor of something burned appears every time when the level of negative emotions is so high, that it turns into psychological fading of the tissues being the energy conductor in the body. It is similar to the cases when electric appliance is plugged to higher currency than it is supposed to be.

Example 5. Emotional Fading

Client O., 49 years old.

Works for a private company for 5 years. Being in deep depression, has a high level of responsibility. Self – evaluation of fading – 8 out of 10. I suggested that the client place on her palm the sense of fading and smells it. The imaginative odor was accompanied by vivid visual images.

The list of odors: crust of the tree; pine resin; scent of a male; metal; floral scent; tender as a breeze; tart like drops; grinded sage bush; horripilations in her head; light scent of roses; odor of the sea; splashes like from the wave; wind blowing; odor of transparent mountain; tinkling odor; “everything is great, I feel beatitude “, “I am on the top of the hill, there is river with clear water beneath with trout in it”. By the end of the session self-evaluation was 5(norm) out of 10.

Example 6. Emotional Fading

Client K., 49 years old, an accountant. Self- evaluation of emotional fading is 9 out of 10.

Being suggested to place “the job” on her right palm she immediately felt that the palm became “heavy”. She started to smell the odor and was surprised by the feelings, as she immediately recalled her allergy to dust.

Lyudmila Makarova. The client felt dizziness, so I suggested that she took a break. After the break: dust; high concentration of dust which stays for a long time (the client wants to itch herself, she sneezes, rubs her nose); odor of paper dust (“now I understand why I don’t want to go to archives)”; cleanliness; fresh aroma like as if of the sea waves; dust again (much milder, but lasting longer); dust getting worse again; discrete odor of dust; onion; no odor at all; light odor of dust in the nostrils; dust (“I can’t stand, probably my hands are covered with dust?); onion; dust (“looks like it’s over. I can easily breathe, although sometimes it is hard for me to breathe. I would like to wash my hands, as if they are dirty and dry.

Lyudmila Makarova. What a great idea! Wash it mentally with water or even under a waterfall.

Odors again: waterfall; winter freshness.

K. approached the window, took off her glasses and was very much surprised to have clear vision. Normally, when she takes the glasses off, everything becomes unclear.

I asked her how her allergy looked like. She said it looked like a roll of grey yarn.

Lyudmila Makarova What do you want to say to or to do to it?

K. It unwinds into white yarn and goes up in the air. I am breathing thru my nose and there is no redness (before the session she was constantly darting with her nose).

Self-evaluation – 5 (norm) out of 10.

Example 7. Cough

Client P., IT specialist, City Anapa, June 2010

The IT specialist came to install Internet in our office. While working (for approximately 30 minutes) he was profoundly coughing non-stop. After he finished installation, I asked him for how long he was sick and whether he was on any medications. He said that he was coughing for 6 months by now. He was on pills for 3 months with no improvement.

The level of cough was 8 out of 10.

Before starting the therapy I asked him to imagine his cough on his right palm and his healthy condition before the cough started on the left palm. Then I suggested that he compared the feelings.

He felt spasm in the middle of the palm “with cough”, and normal feelings on the other palm. The cough on the palm smelled like floral (trees, flowers – it’s Anapa –the seaside resort city).

Just one negative odor which repeated twice was the odor of old linoleum.

During the therapy the cough was moving from the lower part of the chest up to the mouth (like a warm ball of energy) and then it was over. By the end of the session the client felt his lips covered with menthol. The palm “with cough” became much lighter than the other one – with “before –the- illness condition”.

Self – evaluation of cough – 1 (was 8 before the therapy).

I gave him a call 2 weeks later. He reported no symptoms of the illness.

Example 8. Acute Pain in the Stomach

Client A, 50 years old.

The client is in deep depression for about a year. Works without vacation, has problems in the family. Complains on acute pain in the stomach, pale, bended down, hard walk, hard talking, “heavy head”.

She was doing audit in the warehouse when she developed acute condition and was unable to keep working. She asked her supervisor to let her go home; this was when I unwillingly heard it and suggested that I could try to help her.

Self-evaluation is 10 out of 10.

I told her about the method and suggested that we should try using it as it won’t take us much time to explore it. A. was suggested to place her stomach pain on her right palm and slight malaise on her left palm. She felt that her right hand was heavier than the left one.

While smelling the odor of the stomach pain in the right hand the odors were: metal; male’s; uniform; manufactory paper; sea freshness.

Pain disappeared shortly. Her chicks turned pink again, eyes opened widely, no discomfort while walking. No pain, full remission. Reported no pain later.

Example 9. Cough & Heart Pain

Client O., 52 years old. (same as in Example 1, but a year later).

Lyudmila Makarova visited O. in her shop and noticed that she was coughing non-stop, it was very difficult to talk to her. Lyudmila suggested that O. underwent a therapy session, all the more so that she was already acquainted with the method. O. was suffering both from cough and heart pain (“as if was open wound”).

She felt spasms and was vomiting for 2 weeks. She had got treatment for 3 months with no results.

Self-evaluation of cough is 10 out of 10.

O. was suggested to mentally place her cough on the right palm and smell it, verbalizing what were the odors she felt.

The odors were accompanied by kinesthetic feelings: pus; head ache; freshness and cold from the palm; pus again; smell of smoked sausage; milk yogurt; cheese; pus; specific odor from the lungs; zinc; mandarin; lime; borsch; rot mouth; something sweet; hospital odor; candies; honey; sweat; freshness (it’s cold coming from hands, but the face is flashing.

The cough became much less intensive. O. felt like her lungs opened as if it were smoothed from inside.

Then we turned to smelling of the heart: pus; garlic with vegetables and mayonnaise; garlic (O. got up and stretched); she started stretching her back while her heart pain went down and disappeared; fresh grinded meat; smoked fish; lime; fried capelin; freshness in the mouth right under the palate like a mint pill.

This is how O. described the images: “it’s like a wound on the heart is covered with protective film.” No pain, no cough.

O. called in 2 days to tell Lyudmila that she was Ok. Her self evaluation was 2out of 10.

Example 10. Panaris. Self treatment

Client L.M., 50 years old. (the author).

While making myself manicure I scratched a finger on my right hand. In 2 days I felt pulsating pain (self evaluation 9 out of 10); the finger became red with a white 2 mm spot in the middle of the redness. I was too busy all day to pay attention to it, but at night I couldn’t fall asleep. I decided to smell my finger pain. It was: pus (lasted longer than 3 minutes), freshness (with pain and pulsation smoothly vanished); menthol; coolness in the throat and on the palate.

While I was smelling the odor, pain became gradually disappearing and eventually pulsation gone away.

In the morning Lyudmila realized that the color of the finger became pale and not red. No swelling, no pain.


1. The method of smelling the odor works not being used by the author (N.D. Linde) only, but by the other therapists as well.. This presumes that this method might be effectively used as one of the OBJECTIVE devises of psychosomatic help as well as for the self treatment.

2. This method might be used not only with heart pain, but also stomach pain, cough and even swellings.

The authors hope that the method will attract attention of physicians and psychologists and will be systematically researched as a new and unique approach of correcting the psychosomatic problems.


1. Linde, N.D. Meditative Psychology. Moscow: “Institut Molodezhi” Publishing House, 1994.

2. Linde, N.D. Method of correction of the emotional condition by means of the transformation of the image. Magazine “Vestnik Psikhosotsialnoy I korrektsionno- reabilitatsionnoy Raboty”, Vol.1, 1997, pp 33-41.

3. Linde, N.D. Emotion Image Therapy. Moscow: Moscow State University of Humanities Publishing House, 2004, pp. 27 and 71.

4. Linde, N.D., Zhuravleva O.D., Mktchyan, K.A. Correction of pain by means of the method of Emotion Image Therapy. Magazine “Voprosy Psikhologii”, Vol. 5, 2008 pp 163-169.