Anyone who has given birth or knocked their funny bone or shin bone knows how common it is to utter an expletive. In theory, yelling out a swear word makes a person feel better afterwards. In fact, new research out of the UK now shows it actually reduces pain.
In a recent study out of a British university, using a four letter word helped reduce physical pain. It is fairly instinctual when experiencing acute physical pain to utter an expletive. And it turns out it may help your situation.
The study included 64 students at Britain’s Kiel University, with the students putting their hands in ice for several minutes. One group of students was allowed to swear with any number of words desired, and the other group was only allowed to use a non-curse word that was neutral. This group served as a control.
The findings in the study showed that those who were allowed to swear actually endured the pain longer, along with decreasing the pain intensity perception. In other words, curse words help people cope with their pain.
The lead author of the study, psychologist Richard Stevens noted “swearing increases your pain tolerance.”At the outset of the study, the hypothesis was that cursing was not a good way of decreasing pain and made things worse. The study’s findings actually showed the opposite.
It appears that cursing is a primitive response, similar to when someone accidentally steps on a dogs tale, the animal will let out a sharp yelp of pain. This yelp comes from a deep part of the brain, and so does cursing come from a deep part of the human brain.
One of the things shown in the study was that those allowed to swear had faster heart rates than the control group. This faster heart rate may have accounted for the decreased pain seen. One of the interesting things seen in this study was that women experienced larger reduction in their pain when using swear words. The finding from the researchers was that women swear less overall anyway, so it was more of a shock to their system with more emotion involved than using curse words.
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