Dominant Senses

I seem to recall from the wider spaces of my research that the ancients believed there was a hierarchy of the senses, and that sight was the one that reigned supreme.

I saw Al Pacino in ‘The Scent of a Woman’ the other night, in which he plays a solider who has been blinded, and whose life is so diminished he plans to kill himself. This reminded me of the police officer who was blinded in the shootout with Raol Moat last year whose life fell apart to the extent that he took his life.

I have had a few discussions with people over if they had to lose a sense, which one would they miss the most. For me, there is no question. Sight would be the biggest loss, as it largely takes away your independence. Sure, there are aids to help people get about, but if you have spent your life being able to walk freely, this is a horrific limitation. I nearly went mad the few weeks I was on crutches with a broken leg, so I don’t think I could cope with the loss of independence. There is also the loss of being able to read, of visual arts etc. I need to see what I am writing.

Several people tell me they would miss sound more, which I find really interesting. Sound can be birdsong, it can be music, it is the stuff that lifts your spirit, so they claim they could not live without these things. But my head is full of these things, and would stay stuffed with them, though of course I would not be able to hear any new stuff, so I still stick with my original.

Which raises an interesting field of research. Are deaf people more prone to depression from not hearing such wonderful sounds? If not, then are they that important?

I have often been told that sunlight is good treatment for psoriasis, but is it the sun per se or the fact that people are usually relaxing when they are in it?

One person told me she could not live without the smell of jasmine in the springtime. I like that, but not sure if that would be enough. I used to know a guy who had no sense of smell, and he was the worst cook ever because he had virtually no sense of smell.

So, it’s not just about the sense, but also the memories of the senses that we would keep or desperately miss.

What sense do you value most, and how much would you miss it?

6 thoughts on “Dominant Senses

  1. Without a doubt, the loss of my eyesight would be the worst. I’ve been contemplating it for a while. My eyesight is terrible and getting worse. I have contacts, but after wearing them for many years, my eyes are getting sensitive and I can’t keep them in for as long. Glasses aren’t good enough for driving; the distance between my eye and the lenses distorts it. I’m looking into lasik surgery, but it’s quite expensive. So, yes, I fear losing my eyesight above all else.

    But your comment about the guy who couldn’t smell being a horrible cook made sense to me, after all, when we have a cold and stuffed up nose, nothing tastes good. On a permanent basis, that would be pretty bad too.

    I need to stop taking these things for granted, I guess!


  2. I used to think eyesight, but then I heard a horrific account of a woman whom lost her sense of smell with one of those up the nose cold remedies. After experiencing absolutely retched smells for a few days it was all-gone. She described the world as antiseptic without smell, “colorless” and stale in a way that was so profound she nearly went mad. It sounded so awful, I mean to be born that way, you can’t know the difference (my father had no sense of smell), but to lose it- that is another thing altogether.


    • Hopefully none of this will ever happen to us of course. But there’s an article in yesterdays’ paper on pop singers getting a new life writing about getting old. Hasn’t affected Leonard Cohen much and he’s the oldest of the lot.


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