The Sixth Sense is one of my favorite novels. It combines the intrinsic drama of the medical scene with the sensibilities of a physician with exquisitely sensitive nose.
Smell in reality, and in metaphor, is intrinsic to our thought processes:
From Changing Minds.org:
Smell is perhaps the most evocative emotion and may be used to trigger deep emotions.
When something is good, then it may be associated with a nice smell.
The sweet smell of success.
She had a fragrant personality.
The bouquet of Summer followed her into the room.
An important use of our sense of smell is to be able to detect food that is unsuitable to eat -- the alternative being poisoning and possible death. This hazard can be transferred into metaphor.
That idea stinks.
He reeks of evil.
The stench of impending doom hung in the air.
The use of smell in the detection of disease has a long history, but only now is its real potential in sight. Much is explained in the novel including the special role of pheromones, airborne molecules that elicit a reaction in a member of the same species. What’s speculative today about these molecules, may be real tomorrow.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sixth Sense January 8, 2013
By Miriam from Wheels Have Eyes
I thought this was a wonderfully written book about the power of perception. The main character Arnie is given an increased sensitivity to smells after his encephalitis. At first, it seemed great, being able to diagnose conditions based upon smells, but eventually that becomes overwhelming and Arnie's life is greatly affected. In the midst of all Arnie's issues, there is a pharmaceutical company playing games as well. It all adds up to the suspense and drama of the novel. With history of working in the medical field, I found this to be very interesting, though the author explains medical issues quite well for the average person. I enjoyed reading the novel and found it hard to put down. It kept my interest with multiple characters and co-existing plots. If you enjoy reading medically related novels, then you will be sure to love this one as well.
Description: Arnie Roth, a family practitioner, develops viral encephalitis. He awakens from the near-death experience with a new appreciation for life and an unexpected talent, his sensitivity to smell has increased a thousandfold.
At first Arnie is enthralled with his talented nose as he savors the aromatic delights of his world. Soon, however, Arnie discovers that all smells are not sweet and many come with unsolicited messages that profoundly affect his psyche.
Arnie can detect danger, disease, drugs, contaminated food and medications, and he senses when his wife is horny. He smells when people are lying to him.
Arnie’s nose captures molecules beyond smell, the invisible chemicals that effect human behavior known as pheromones, his sixth sense.
Soon the surge of aromas inundates Arnie and puts his sanity in jeopardy.
The Sixth Sense is highly entertaining, thought provoking, and touching journey through a world that influences us every day, but one that we know too little about.