Addiction Or Love Affair – Why We Can’t Get Enough Of Perfume
There was a time when I did not care for perfume.
As inconceivable as this seems to me now, whether I remembered to apply a spritz or two of whatever happened to grace my vanity at the time, or not, was not a matter of concern.
I always had a bottle or two in my possession since it was like getting dressed or brushing my hair, just a gesture that was necessary to make myself presentable to the world. If I forgot, well, it would have been worse had I forgotten to put on trousers, wouldn’t it?
Then, sometime – I bet you all have a story of how it happened for you – I saw things differently. All of a sudden perfume took on a new meaning, a new importance and a new, almost magical pull.
My sense of smell awakened, smells all around got a new and vastly enlarged priority in my conscious mind. It was as if I had grown a new nose over night.
Perfume became a way of living. It started to seep into everything, permeate my life with its wonderful sillage.
What am I wearing today? Why am I wearing it? How does that make me feel? When can I try this new perfume? When can I buy a bottle of this old classic?
Do I need this? Should I save up for that? Do I start a collection of vintage perfumes as long as I have the chance? Do I get a decant or a full bottle? Do I need a backup of this beloved limited edition?
As time progresses, the questions get more and more complicated. More and more details have to be considered. As our collections grow along with our tastes and experiences, perfume rules a part of our lives.
We spend significant amounts of time researching it, we spend time testing and experiencing it in stores and we spend time trying to imagine it. We seek out opinions of others, we talk about it, we connect with other like minded individuals about it - we have a hobby.
Or is what we experience an addiction?
Of course it can be. But not necessarily so.
The hallmark of addiction is the abuse of something (or someone) to fill an emptiness that is otherwise unbearable. In most cases this addiction is detrimental to the person having it. The abused substance can be bad for you in itself, like drugs and alcohol or it can be turned into something bad, like food or shopping.
All addictions have the loss of a correct idea of the right measure in common. The urge to fill the emptiness is stronger than any other, healthier impulse.
This is a serious disease, a severe disturbance affecting the whole personality.
There are certainly instances where this passion we all share can get out of hand.
When it is abused for something else. When we use buying and acquiring more and more of the beloved item, to fill the emptiness, when we lose control and spend more than we can afford and still not stop, when we prioritize it above all else, even something as beautiful as perfume can become a drug of sorts.
So why am I writing this?
I have been asked several times by a lot of people whether such a passionate affection for what is essentially just a thing, is normal. Whether it is healthy to feel delighted or frustrated, happy or sad all because of perfume. Whether it is normal to spend so much time and effort on it. Whether it is normal to take such satisfaction out of an inanimate object.
Everything is a question of the degree, the extent of involvement as well as the intended purpose, to what end the “substance” is used or abused.
We all have a deep connection to perfume as a way of self-expression. We use perfumes, we appreciate them, we do not abuse them generally. Of course there can be exceptions; every lust can turn into a must, but only on the ground of an underlying problem.
I do not believe perfume is ever the first problem. Addiction is always an attempt to self-medicate, to regulate what is perceived as wrong or missing. Even perfume can be instrumentalized for that effort, but to collect and wear more than twenty, fifty or five hundred perfumes is certainly not in and of itself a sign of addiction.
It is okay to be passionate about something. It enriches our lives, it helps us in all kinds of situations, it helps us deal with life’s vagaries, it enriches our sensual perceptions, it broadens our horizons, it makes us appreciate art and artisanal craftsmanship, it delights, saddens, angers, empowers, calms, brings us down or lifts us up.
Perfume is a mood altering device at worst and at best.
Let us use it as such and be happy we have found it.
Image Credit, Chanel.com