Article with Dr. Katharine Phillips

Researchers say a psychiatric condition characterized by a person's mistaken belief that he or she smells bad is vastly under-recognized.

Called olfactory reference syndrome, the condition is "probably very common," says Katharine Phillips, MD, of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

"These patients suffer tremendously," she tells WebMD. "They are preoccupied with the belief that they are emitting a foul or offensive body odor, which is not perceived by others."

"They're impaired in terms of functioning and they have high rates of suicidality," Phillips says.

At a news briefing at the American Psychiatric Association meeting, Phillips said the condition has been described around the world for more than a century but has only been minimally studied.

Read more: Many Delusional About Smelling Bad


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