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Why Swearing Is Good for You

Why Swearing Is Good for You

People who know me well know that I have a mouth like a truck driver. (Hell, who am I kidding? The bum who hangs out in front of 7-11 is also well-aware!) Well, maybe not a truck driver…but definitely a longshoreman. In all seriousness, I regularly use the F word as an adverb (i.e., “That’s so fucking annoying”) an adjective (“It’s fucking pouring outside”), and even a noun (“He’s such a fuck”).

I can’t remember exactly when or why this habit started. While I was definitely on the young side, I was still old enough that when my dad threatened to wash my mouth out with soap we both knew it was an empty promise. As far as why, there was a time when my mouth was blamed on my grandma…monkey see, monkey do and all. But I’ve had this mouth now for at least 20 years, and I don’t think anyone in my family can honestly remember that far back to definitively pin the blame on Goldie. Regardless, you can imagine my delight when I came across an article in Time magazine (August 10, 2009) with the headline “Why Swearing Is Good for You.” Nestled in the back of the Health section, the headline goes on to read: “It not only vents frustration, but a new study shows it actually alleviates physical pain.”

The article reports: “Psychologists at Britain’s Keele University asked 64 college students to immerse their hand in ice water for as long as possible. In one go-round, the students were allowed to repeat a curse word of their choice while they endured the painfully cold water; in the other, they were asked to use a nonexpletive. Swearing not only allowed students to withstand the discomfort longer but also decreased their perception of pain intensity. The study found that when participants used a curse word, their heart rates were consistently higher—a physiological response consistent with fight or flight—than when they were repeating a neutral word. ‘In swearing, people have an emotional response, and it’s the emotional response that actually triggers the reduction of pain,’ says Richard Stephens, the study’s lead author.”

Well, I pride myself on my “just say no” attitude to most medication. Rarely do I pop pills—whether over the counter or Rx. Here I was thinking it was my high tolerance for pain…in reality, it’s most likely simply thanks to my potty mouth. Fucking awesome!

Posted by Marlo