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I can’t stop smelling my socks. Am I weird? © Getty Images

I can’t stop smelling my socks. Am I weird?

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Having smelly socks is nothing to sniff at...

Not at all. Many of us like to whiff smelly things. It’s a form of what psychologists call ‘benign masochism’.


The minor thrill of a nasty smell has been likened to the adrenaline rush we get from rollercoasters. Even though we’ve been warned that the experience will be unpleasant, we know it won’t be seriously harmful, so it provides a way for us to test out experiences and emotions in safety.

Be careful when it comes to your socks, though – they might be harbouring fungal spores. A 37-year-old man in China was hospitalised in 2018 with a lung infection attributed to his compulsive sock-sniffing.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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