Science Has #$%& Amazing News for People Who Curse
When you stub a toe, miss a train by mere seconds or send an accidental “reply-all,” there’s a good chance you’ll reflexively blurt out an expletive or two — and there’s no reason to feel bad about it. While spewing profanities may offend disciples of Emily Post, it turns out that cursing is a pretty healthy habit. Research suggests that using four-letter words to express pain may inadvertently help alleviate it, whether we’re reeling from physical anguish or emotional upset. How fucking convenient.
If it hurts, go on and curse. Dropping f-bombs helps us withstand physical pain, according to a 2009 study in which U.K. researchers from Keele University conducted a different kind of ice bucket challenge. Participants had to dunk their hands in ice water until the discomfort grew unbearable. Half of the participants could repeat their obscenity of choice during the experiment, while the other half had to endure the pain without letting curses fly. As researchers predicted, the profane group lasted longer. Repeating “fuck” and “shit,” researchers believed, helped people get through pain by distracting them from it.
As a pain management tool, cursing may do more for people who drop f-bombs sparingly. In a follow-up study, researchers found that people who swore less on a daily basis derived more benefit from cursing their way through unpleasant sensations.
Colorful cursing: When you’re all worked up, the same team of U.K. psychologists believe, cursing is basically a harmless way to muster up emotional resilience. But what we consider profanity changes as language evolves. If a word loses its shock appeal, it probably loses its ameliorative power. It’s a good thing that we’re so creative when it comes to cursing. In a study published last year, researchers asked participants to play either an aggressive video game or a more sedate golf game. People who played the aggressive game, researchers found, came up with a wider variety of obscenities on request.
“Our study found that when we raised people’s emotional arousal level they became more proficient at swearing such that they were able to produce a greater number of different swear words and expressions in a one-minute period,” said one study author, Amy Zile, in a statement to the British Psychological Society. “This provides experimental support for the theory that swearing is emotional language.”
So the next time you’ve messed up or are feeling screwed over, don’t be afraid to let one fly — it might just be the best thing you can do for yourself.
Theresa writes for ScienceMic. A Brooklyn-based journalist, she likes to write about health, human and animal behavior, and justice. Her work has appeared on Salon.com, JJIE, and The Atlantic.com.
Note from Suzy: I’m not advocating us all cussing like drunken sailors or current rap stars, but just want to put all of us trying-to-be-spiritual women at ease a bit. I think as long as we keep our cussing in the confines of our MDRcommunity forum, I think it’s fine. Some times those words are the only thing appropriate to truly express our outrage at the behavior of our wasbands. But cussing is counterproductive around anyone else. In exchanges with our wasbands, it makes us look “crazy and out-of-control like they are telling everyone we are. Reasonable in-control words are always best with kids and extended family and most friends (except perhaps with those bosom buddies we all hopefully have.) I know when I let out the f word or some word describing the girlfiend with my wasband, his response would usually send me into the stratosphere! He might say something, “We could work this out if you weren’t always so angry, after I asked ‘What the f were you doing with her last night?’ when you said that relationship was over? Anyway, you get the picture. That’s one reason the MDRcommunity is a safe, secure, PRIVATE community where you don’t even have to use your real name. We can say whatever we damn well please and not feel one bit guilty about it!
If you haven’t signed up for the MDRcommunity yet, do it today. Join the other women who feel like the woman who sent this message to me a few days ago:
“I simply have to stop and thank you for this wonderful website. You and these wonderful women quite literally saved my life. I wanted to die when all this hell broke loose, but now I want to live more than anything else in this world. Knowing that this place is a sacred place for all of us to vent, cry, and encourage each other along this maddening journey is so wonderful that mere words cannot express how I feel about it. Your wisdom and guidance have been invaluable to me and I have laughed again with joy in my heart when I did not believe it could ever happen again. That is powerful and I just wanted to thank you.”
Join us in the community today … just go to www.midlifedivorcerecovery.com and go to MDRcommunity and click CLICK HERE (for more information about how to become a member. You’ll love the freedom, encouragement, comfort and even laughter you find there.