It’s not uncommon to hear about phobias and weird hobbies people have. At first glance, some of these personal preferences just don’t seem to make any sense. But in many cases, there are actually dependable origins and experiences that lead to people’s peculiarities, regardless of how implicit and unconscious those connections could be. The sources usually vary considerably because of the diversity of cultural environments and family backgrounds. And I really enjoyed reading Roland’s descriptions of detergents and especially how he relates the foamy feeling to spirituality, which serves as a great example of culture’s effects.
The reading reminds me of my similar situations. I can’t tolerate the smell of disinfectant fluids. For me the odor is merely too abnormal to be accepted and I nearly throw up whenever I smell it. Also the smell triggers my insecurity and makes me anxious. And the strange thing is, I wasn’t so sensitive about this smell when I was a kid. I had always been trying to figure out why until one day I remembered a horrible experience with disinfectants I had in high school.
Wisdom teeth that grow at the wrong place in your mouth is always bothering, because they hurt so much and yet you suffer even more when you try to remove them. And I was so lucky to grow four, all buried underneath my gums, which meant that the doctor had to cut my gums open in order to get those annoying teeth out. In fact the operation wasn’t very painful thanks to the anesthetic. But here comes the problem, I was given a bottle of brown liquids that smell just like disinfectants, and I was told to drink them everyday to ‘kill the bacteria around the wounds.’ I would never forget the taste of that liquid, which was both bitter and sweet, and it made my tongue numb and burn a little , just like detergents. To make things worse, very soon I found out that the liquid was basically made of the secretion of cockroaches. (And this is why sometimes I can’t understand traditional Chinese medicines.) Very likely this experience unconsciously formed a perception of mine, which linked the smell of disinfectants to the disgusting secretions of cockroaches. And apparently this feeling has never diminished, which explains why I am so scared of disinfectants now.)
Similarly, people with manias also have probably formed certain implicit connections in their heads. For instance, I am a big fan of the smell of gasoline. For me, the smell feels rather cozy and friendly, and would offer the sense of security. Though I can’t explain this phenomenon, another feeling I have is obviously the result of connection. I would feel refreshed and energetic when I smell gasoline. This reflects that I am unconsciously associate gasoline with its feature: provide energy. But this is also very tricky because I don’t really think about this connection when I smell gas. It just automatically happens.