Olfactory-tactile synesthesia

Alternative names could be smell-touch or smell-to-touch synesthesia

Although it isn’t totally clear whether this type of synesthesia exists “in its own right”, with smells triggering exclusively tactile sensations, for some people with olfactory-visual synesthesia a strong tactile component also forms part of the experience.

Perhaps what we have here is a concurrent somewhere between the visual and the tactile, where smells are “felt” rather than “seen”. Taste-to-shape synesthetes (i.e. those who perceive geometric shapes in response to flavours) also report this type of simultaneous tactile/visual perceptions, although clear tactile examples are more easily found in taste-to-shape synesthetes than in their smell-to-shape counterparts.


Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

(Image: Shpongulate, 2019.)

“I notice that I experience the shapes of these smells in my upper body, in my arms, and the edges of the shapes are near my hands. Although I've never really thought about it that way! In one sense the shapes are just "in my mind", but spatially they are close to my body, and effectively standing on me.

It's really interesting to compactify these into visual shapes, because they really aren't JUST visual, it's a multisensory experience with its own flow of energy that defines what it is.”

Source (image and text): This post and comments on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019. )


"I recently got a perfume tester and it smelled like ribbed plastic feels when you move your fingers along the lines up and down the piece of plastic. Smooth and warm...

I don't have this with all smells but this was very distinct, I felt it in my hands and could see the piece of plastic when I closed my eyes. (It's glossy and offwhite).

I have another perfume, a floral perfume, that feels like wood. It’s a smooth textured hardwood like the side of an old table, no sharp edges, just smooth.

Gasoline feels like cubes of metal. I can feel the sharp edges and the cool surface of the metal cubes when I smell it."

(Source: This post and comments on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2021.)


Go to the page on olfactory-visual synesthesia (smell-colour and smell-shape)

Go to the page on gustatory-tactile synesthesia (taste-touch sensations)

Go to the page on gustatory-visual synesthesia (taste-colour/shape)

Go to the page on olfactory-auditory synesthesia (smell-musical notes or sound)

Go to the page on taste-colour synesthesia

Go to the page on taste-shape synesthesia

Go to the page on smell and memories (not a type of synesthesia)

1 comment:

  1. When I was a child, there was there odd scent in the dwelling I was in, and the smell made a small prickly ball appear in my wind that grew bigger and more prickly as the smell was a around. I could fell the rough prickly texture in my fingers. (So happy to have found this site and put words to experiences ty)