Psychoanalysis versus psychotherapy.

This has been a subject I’ve been interested in since I was a teenager, but over the last few years I’ve done quite a bit of research, including watching many lectures by psychologists, therapists, researchers, etc. By now you are probably asking what this has to do with scents, and I’ll begin to answer that with one of my recent posts at

QUOTE: When Jim Gehr sent me his perfumes, he also sent me a slew of samples from his extensive catalog of raw materials and synthetics… There were also a handful of synthetics, including alpha isomethyl ionone, bois ambrene, synthetic agar, cis-3 hexenol, coumarin, “Timbersilk,” a type of Iso E Super, and a few other marvelous things. My education in understanding these materials has been, put simply, a lot of fun. UNQUOTE.

That’s from the FromPyrgos blog (7/13/14). And then we have: QUOTE: …only 30% of masculines pre-dating 1997 incorporated natural sandalwood oil as a principal fixative, as per Nigel Groom’s “New Perfume Handbook.” UNQUOTE.

Comment by one Bryan Ross on my blog on 2/19/14. Does that sound a bit like: QUOTE: According to the 1997 edition of Nigel Groom’s New Perfume Handbook, real sandalwood oil was only used in 30% of the world’s masculines… UNQUOTE.

Posted by you on the Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur post here at BN yesterday.

And a google search reveals that Mr. Ross has mentioned octyn esters at least three times on his blog since last year.

When I first suggested that you might be the divine Mr. R., you said, “I don’t know who this blogger is, Bigsly.” That was from the BN post entitled, “Anyone ever experience a fragrance going bad?”

Go ahead, keep pretending – that only damages your overall credibility, even though your arguments about vintage scents make no sense on any level (others can decide for themselves). I wonder what the mods will do. I’ll go on record and say that you should get a second chance here, but then again I don’t know why you were banned in the first place, to be fair.

Of course you will require some reference point here (and I’ll mention that I took screen shots of the relevant statements). The thread was entitled, “What makes Green Valley green?” and a new member (joined in June of 2014) named “HankHarvey” stated (about Green Valley):

Definitely mint, vetiver, probably a bit of cis-3 hexanol, a leaf alochol, very dry green smelling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some of GIT’s octyn esters in there also, lending it that violetty aspect.

When I was doing research about “psychopathy” (and I am by no means calling Mr. Ross a psychopath), which included works from the 1950s as well as some other possible historical examples, such as Becky Sharp from “Vanity Fair,” I was thinking that I’ve met quite a few people who just seem to like to “cause trouble,” as many used to say when I was a child (not about me, for the most part). The reason I bring this up is because it is one thing to get banned from a web site and then to try and get back on in an unethical way so you can do things like ask questions and obtain information. It is yet another to also “cause trouble” when you must know there is clearly a percentage of the membership that does not agree with you on a subject, in this case “spoilage.” Yes, American society has a “dog eat dog” quality to it, but do you really want to bring that into your hobbies? And if you can’t ever “agree to disagree” with anyone, would you prefer to live in a dictatorship? If so, suppose someone you disagree with on just about every issue becomes the dictator at some point?

I don’t know why people do things such as what appears to be the case here, but it may be that nobody will ever know, including the person doing it (in this post I’m assuming my notion is true, and so readers should regard it as entirely hypothetical). That’s what psychoanalysts attempt to do. They want to get to the root cause of “neurotic” behavior, as Freudians used to say (not sure if they still use the same language), and at some point it may be concluded that improper “potty training” was the key, for instance. I am with those who dismiss this kind of idea, and think of it as a kind of “Munchausen by Proxy” situation. By contrast, psychotherapy is an attempt to help people become more “functional,” and there are various techniques that can be utilized towards this end (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). An interesting example is the “hoarder,” who usually doesn’t see a problem at all, but often eventually comes to the attention of authorities, who may make demands upon the hoarder that can result in just about anything. To be sure, I have no idea how functional he is, and perhaps this is the only area of his life that seems rather “off kilter”

What I wonder in this instance is if this person enjoys the thought of “pulling the wool” over the eyes of the moderators at Basenotes as well as others who know about the banning. This is the same person who said he was done with Basenotes not that long ago, so it’s possible there are some internal conflicts as well. Then there are the shifting and contradictory claims against vintage scents and “spoilage.” And the interviews where people with conflicts of interest are thrown “softball” questions. I don’t like most recent designer scents, for example, and I don’t think about them often, but I give credit where I think it is due. I know a whole lot of guys seem to think Midnight in Paris is great, for instance. but I see no need to continually write about the large number of ways that I think it is an incredibly inferior concoction, even relative to other recent ones, and that includes ones that sell for a lot less, such as Yacht Man Chocolate. Mr. Ross, by contrast, seems to think he needs to go on an “all-out offensive” against people who mostly enjoy vintage scents, sometimes confusing the issue, such as by talking about the intention of the perfumer. Even in this case, he doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge the obvious point that some reformulations bear little resemblance to the original or are very poorly rendered – why does he not criticize these companies for paying no regard to the perfumer’s intention in those cases?

I am curious about why this person thought he would be able to make several very specific arguments on Basenotes that he made on his blog (or comments on mine) and expect nobody to notice that it must be the FromPyrgos author. It’s true that narcissists tend to underestimate others, for example. Does he not mind getting banned again but wants to irritate as many people as possible before that occurs? Does he think that people will believe that there really is a “HankHarvey” who is not Mr. Ross and that this person just happens to know quite a bit about octyn esters, cis-3 hexanol, as well as the same statement from an obscure books about perfumes? It’s one thing to become enthusiastic about a hobby like this and to want to share your views with others, but making the decision to lie suggests something is very wrong. Moreover, there seems to be an issue with personal boundaries or self-awareness, because if you decide to end your relationship with a site like Basenotes (while you still use Fragrantica) but then can’t adhere to it for just several months, shouldn’t you ask yourself if there is something “deeper” involved?

The last point I’ll make here (one which references the photo I used for this post) is that there is a difference between making a strong argument and trying to “win” in a “right fight,” which is how I classify Mr. Ross’ statements in this context (other than lies, of course), a good example being how he argued that the sense of smell is “objective,” despite the scientific evidence to the contrary and apparently no evidence to support it. Right fighters will do things like ignore points you make that they don’t have an answer for or will “move the goalposts.” One example of the latter is when people claim that most vintage bottles are “spoiled, but then when you use common sense and point out that there are just too many reviews and comments about vintage that do not mention this for it to be any kind of major issue, the “move” occurs and they might talk about the intention of the perfumer. With Mr. Ross’ post about Joint Pour Homme, he goes even further, claiming things about a scent of that era and type that nobody else seems to have ever experienced. This leads me to believe that it is just another lie, though perhaps self-deception more than outright deception. Whatever the case may be, I find his behavior quite fascinating, though I don’t think I’d like to be a psychotherapist who meets with him for an hour once a week !

NOTE: For those who don’t know, there was a post at FromPyrgos entitled something like, “Chandler Burr should just shut the hell up.” I don’t remember anything in it that was outrageous, though I may not have agreed with all of it, but for some reason Mr. Ross doesn’t seem to want his readers to know anything about its existence. He has never, TMK, explained why it was deleted, which I think a blogger owes to his or her readers. If a mistake was made, why not just apologize and “move on,” just as if he feels the need to be active on Basenotes, why not just tell us that he changed his mind about that site? Is there vindictiveness towards the owner of Basenotes? If not, what is the problem? People I have known in the past who do things like this have had major issues with mood swings, so I hope if that is the case here, Mr. Ross seeks professional help – you don’t have to tell anyone you are seeing a therapist, just please be fair to your readers, Mr. Ross. Isn’t it really “below the belt” to tell people that Basenotes is really bad and then become a member – what sort of person does these kinds of things?

Let me make clear. though, that I think his blog has provided his readers with plenty of interesting insights and valuable information, and I hope he continues with it. What simply isn’t acceptable is to do something like make a claim about an experience that is entirely unique (and contradicts what just about everyone else who has written on the subject has said – even the “expert” he interviewed, Mr. Dame, “walked back” his “dreck” statement), but then to dismiss what someone like myself has said on this subject. I’ve been studying vintage scents since 2008, and have or have had several bottles of the same vintage scent (Kouros, Red for Men, Lagerfeld Cologne, Boss Cologne, Quorum, Alain Delon, Iquitos, Giorgio for Men, Giorgio VIP, Lapidus Pour Homme, By Man, Il Lancetti, 1-12, KL Homme, Tuscany Uomo, Aramis, CPuH, Zino, Obsession, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Ho Hang Club, Heritage, etc., and that’s just the “masculines”). If you want to do that, then you had better present some strong evidence, such as GC/MS studies of the scent in question. The only one he mentioned contradicts his notion, and at The Raiders of the Lost Scent blog, some vintage scents were studied in this way and seem to have held up very well. Does he not think that his judgement could ever get clouded by a deep desire to perceive things a certain way?

UPDATE: For those interested in a documentary that does a good job of illustrating some common “dysfunctional” behaviors, I suggest “I, Psychopath,” which is currently on youtube:

However, one problem I encountered was that few experts tell people how to deal with dysfunctional individuals. For a quick but very good word on this, there is this video:

What I’ve found is that I often have to watch a documentary twice or read a book a few times before I feel that I really understand the subject matter. One thing you don’t want to do is to get discouraged, because even experts can be clearly wrong, for example, read about Dorothy Otnow Lewis’s notions on Ted Bundy’s Wikipedia page. Recently, there was the Elliot Rodger rampage, and what’s interesting is how he left a detailed “Manifesto” that seems to suggest a very odd but clear delusional aspect to his psyche (that is, “beautiful” young women were supposed to come up to him and ask him to go on dates, among other related things), as well as severe mood swings, yet few if any experts have pointed out that this seems consistent with schizoaffective disorder more than anything else!

Lastly, for those who are wondering, I have not contacted Basenotes’ moderators demanding that “HankHarvey” be banned. I have more of a “two heads are better than one” belief, which is why I like to read forums, even though there are some “trolls.” And I have no issues with those who feel they must have perfect top notes, if there is such a thing, and I have offered to buy “spoiled” bottles of Creeds (sealed spray bottles), though at a discount of course, so that they don’t have to feel they must throw these bottles in the garbage (as more than a couple have said at BN). The main issues are the shifting claims and the apparent pathological need some people seem to possess to claim that vintage aficionados are somehow unable to detect “spoiled” scents. They don’t know this is the case (I’m more than willing to participate in a study to determine if I have difficulty doing things like detecting food items that most people perceive as spoiled, for example), and the evidence we have supports the opposite conclusion, when viewed as a whole. Of course, conflicts of interest may play a role in some cases, depending upon who is making such claims, but it seems that some people aren’t willing to accept that others may have opinions that differ from theirs, and so they put forth nonsense arguments to try and “convert” a very small number of people who might be “on the fence” and willing to take their advice.



Filed under Criticizing the critics.

5 responses to “Psychoanalysis versus psychotherapy.

  1. Mackenzie McHibbon

    Isn’t this endless critique of From Pyrgos growing a bit tired? Can’t you just get back to talking about fragrances? I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish anymore. Why not let it go?

    • Well, as I said, I find this fascinating for sociological or psychological reasons. And I don’t think I’m alone, because there are so many shows about “catfish” type incidents, and IMO this is a variation on that theme. I’ve got a few other posts I’m working on that are entirely scent related, so it’s not like I’m wasting time that I’d spend on those. The “problem” is that I try to really understand a scent, which takes time, and the last post, pointing out how strange I find Mr. Ross’ perception of Joint Pour Homme, was useful to me, and I hope readers as well, because I felt compelled to pay very careful attention to Joint’s development. Finally, what I experienced in grad school is that discussions about conflicting opinions often led to the most significant insights. On the Basenotes’ thread about “spoilage,” for example, by being persistent, I was able to get at what some people mean by a “spoiled” scent. Moreover, I was curious about whether at least some of these people would want to get cash for bottles they said were of no use to them, but so far there hasn’t been one message to that effect. Yet another “dog that didn’t bark” situation, IMO. I know not everyone shares my detective-like mentality, but I don’t think this leopard’s spots are ever going to change!

      • Mackenzie McHibbon

        Your above reply is a bit off-topic and rambling. If you’re implying that I’m “catfishing” you, I assure you that I don’t even read From Pyrgos nor do I know Ross. That’s terribly presumptuous of you…

      • No, I meant that to say you (meaning anyone) are done with a site but then to go on that site using a different username (which appears to be unconnected to your other, known usernames) a few months later strikes me as a variation on the “catfishing” theme (especially when you write up posts and do what you say you won’t do any longer, which is to engage in “debate” about vintage scents being “turned”), assuming that is what happened. Your commentary was entirely appropriate – you expressed your opinion. and if you find my posts to be useless to you then by all means do not waste you time on them! If you don’t know, you can go look up my Fragrantica reviews, if that is what you are mostly seeking. As I’ve said here before, my blog posts are meant to contain something more than what I usually do with my Fragrantica reviews. Because of that, however, there needs to be something I consider an insight, and then I have to write it up, obviously.

  2. willread

    I find the comments and analyses of frompyrgos quite interesting, since I read both blogs. Good to see different perspective…

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