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Autodysomophobia or Olfactory Reference Syndrome (ORS)[1]) is a phobia in which the affected person is excessively preoccupied by the concern that one's body odor is foul or unpleasant. This disorder is often accompanied by shame, embarrassment, significant distress, avoidance behavior, social phobia and social isolation.[1][2] ORS is not recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however it is considered by many to be a sub-type of Body dysmorphic disorder. ORS links obsessive and compulsive aspects. Sufferers may have trouble concentrating at a given task or in particular situations due to obsessive thoughts concerning body odor.


Common symptoms of ORS include excessive thoughts of having:[1]

  • halitosis (bad breath)
  • rectal odor (anal odor)
  • vaginal odor
  • overall body odor
  • an unnatural, non-human or chemical odor

People with ORS believe others' behaviors or comments are related to the imagined odor (e.g., another's cough, sneeze, or turning of the head is due to the alleged odor).


ORS should not be diagnosed without thorough clinical assessment related to the perceived symptom. Something malodor conditions all have in common is that they are very poorly managed and understood by health care professionals and the public in general.

e.g. a full halitological consultation by a clinician educated in the differential diagnosis of halitosis.

Genital malodor, rectal malodor and body odor are also extensively complex topics. It is inappropriate to diagnose any patient with a delusional symptom without applying the most modern evidence based management guidelines for their complaint.

Compulsive behaviorsEdit

Individuals with ORS often engage in time-consuming behaviors in an attempt to alleviate their perceived odor. Common compulsive behaviours include:[1]

  • Repetitive showering and other grooming behaviors.
  • Excessive use of deodorants, perfumes, and mouthwash.
  • Repeatedly scraping of the tongue
  • Repeatedly checking the source of the alleged odor.
  • Seeking reassurance from others that there is no odor.
  • Avoidant personality: a fear that individuals detect foul odor when in social environments.
  • Frequent visits to doctor regarding their perceived foul odor.
  • Repeatedly accusing family members of emitting foul odors.
  • Excessive use of scented candles.
  • Over-consumption of mint and/or gum.


Olfactory reference syndrome may be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and/or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.[2]

See alsoEdit

List of phobias


External linksEdit

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