Case Control Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. Feb 19, 2021; 11(2): 50-57
Published online Feb 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i2.50
Psychic euosmia among obsessive-compulsive personality disorder patients: A case control study
Annalisa Maraone, Lorenzo Tarsitani, Marianna Frascarelli, Federica Petrini, Valentina Roselli, Massimiliano Tinè, Gabriele Cavaggioni, Vlasios Brakoulias, Massimo Biondi, Massimo Pasquini
Annalisa Maraone, Marianna Frascarelli, Federica Petrini, Massimiliano Tinè, Gabriele Cavaggioni, Massimo Biondi, Massimo Pasquini, Department of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University, Rome 00185, Italy
Lorenzo Tarsitani, Valentina Roselli, Department of Neurosciences and Mental Health, Umberto I Policlinic, Rome 00185, Italy
Vlasios Brakoulias, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University and Western Sydney Local Health District, Blacktown 2145, SNW, Australia
Vlasios Brakoulias, Department of Psychiatry, Nepean Hospital, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Penrith 2751, SNW, Australia
Author contributions: Pasquini M was the creator of the study; Maraone A and Pasquini M wrote the manuscript, Tarsitani L and Frascarelli M conducted the statistical analysis; Petrini F, Roselli V, Tinè M and Cavaggioni G recruited the sample and collected the data for the study; Brakoulias V, Biondi M and Pasquini M designed the study.
Institutional review board statement: The study was reviewed and approved by the Policlinico Umberto I Institutional Review Board, approval No. 6080.
Informed consent statement: All study participants, or their legal guardian, provided informed written consent prior to study enrollment.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All authors declare the absence of conflict of interests related to the present study.
Data sharing statement: No additional data are available.
STROBE statement: The authors have read the STROBE Statement—checklist of items, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the STROBE Statement—checklist of items.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Marianna Frascarelli, MD, Doctor, Department of Human Neurosciences, Sapienza University, Viale dell’Università 30, Rome 00185, Italy.
Received: September 17, 2020
Peer-review started: September 17, 2020
First decision: December 1, 2020
Revised: December 13, 2020
Accepted: December 27, 2020
Article in press: December 27, 2020
Published online: February 19, 2021

Psychic euosmia (PE) has been described as a supposed psychological predisposition for which pleasant smells elicit an immediate sense of pleasure, order and calmness in obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). In this study we tried to verify the interpretation that PE is the counterpart of disgust that has been associated to contamination and moral purity. Disgust and morality are significantly associated in people with obsessive-compulsive personality traits. We expected that OCPD patients would experience higher levels of PE.


To investigate the PE frequency in OCPD patients and healthy controls (HC) and to evaluate the relationship between PE and disgust.


A single-center, case-control study was conducted in an outpatient service for obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. The sample consisted of 129 subjects: 45 OCPD patients and 84 HC. In both groups we submitted the Disgust Scale Revised (DS-R) and the self-report Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 Screening Personality Questionnaire to which we added an additional yes or no question to investigate the presence of PE. In order to verify differences between groups, t-test was employed for continuous variables and 2 test for categorical variable; odds ratio was employed to analyze group differences in the PE survey. Correlation was explored with Pearson r correlations.


No differences were observed between groups in gender composition or education. A slight significant difference was found in mean age (t = 1.988; P = 0.049). The present study revealed significantly higher proportions of PE among OCPD patients when compared to HC (OR: 5.3, 2.28-12.46). Patients with OCPD were more likely to report PE (n = 36; 80%) whereas a much lower proportion endorsed PE in the HC group (n = 36; 42.9%). Interestingly, no differences were observed between groups in mean score for the Disgust Scale. There was also no difference between the two groups in any of the Disgust Scale Revised subscales. Moreover, no significant correlations were observed in the OCPD group between PE and Disgust Scale Revised subscales.


Results suggested that PE might be part of the clinical spectrum of OCPD, and it does not reflect the counterpart of disgust. This could also indicate that this phenomenon is a manifestation of orderliness or incompleteness. Further studies will need to be undertaken to better understand PE and its significance in OCPD.

Keywords: Psychic euosmia, Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, Disgust, Orderliness, Olfactory, Personality

Core Tip: Psychic euosmia (PE) is a positive aspect of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) recently described as a psychological predisposition for which pleasant smells elicit an immediate sense of pleasure, order and calmness. In the absence of other scientific observations, our group decided to investigate the presence of this phenomenon among OCPD patients and how PE ought to be considered. The present study revealed significantly higher rates of PE among OCPD patients compared to healthy control subjects. The absence of correlation between PE and the Disgust Scale in the OCPD group supports the hypothesis that this experience is not associated with disgust.