Rebecca Cagle has heard that the smell of coffee can calm people in uncomfortable settings.
But she has no way of knowing if a whiff of roasted java could ease her feelings of shyness. Cagle was born without a sense of smell.
It wasn’t until she was 25 years old when the Tennessee woman realized she was lacking a sense of smell. While hiking one day with her parents, they complained about a strong odor coming from a creek bed. “I realized then that I had no sense of smell,” said Cagle, now 52. Since that stunning revelation, social gatherings have been difficult for Cagle, she said. She sometimes feels she can’t relate to people in the way that most others can — without being able to share the experience of smell.
Now a new study has found that people born without a sense of smell experience higher social insecurity and are at increased risk of depression than those who have functioning olfaction.