How To F*** The Pain Away

18 Apr

I don’t swear very often. And apparently that’s a good thing…because if I’m ever in so much pain that I do end up swearing, it’ll actually make the pain much more tolerable according to fascinating new research described by Time.

To test the affect of swearing on pain, Keele University researcher Dr. Richard Stephens asked study participants to submerge their arms into a bucket of icy water while repeatedly uttering either a bad swear word or a harmless word.

Stephens found that the swearing participants were able to tolerate the pain of the icy water for much longer than those uttering a harmless word. Furthermore, this affect was the highest among study participants who were not habitual swearers – those who got to swear were able to hold their hand in the icy water 4 times longer than those who had to keep their language PG during the unpleasant experience.

Although it is not clear why exactly swearing reduces physical pain, one theory is that swearing, as an act of aggression, triggers our flight-or-fight instincts, which increase our tolerance for pain. I personally think it’s because swearing takes our focus away from the pain, especially if we don’t swear very often and its a bit awkward / wrong to say those words.

So if you swear often, consider easing on those negative words in public (as it is pretty rude anyway) and use these bad words when you actually need to use them to actually ease your pain.

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4 Responses to “How To F*** The Pain Away”

  1. Ryan Critchett 18. Apr, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Natasha! Great post. This is an incredible study. It makes total sense to me. I believe that it’s firing off the amygdala and inducing fight or flight, for sure.

  2. Simon 19. Apr, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I find that after I have sworn on the golf course, my game settles down and I play much better!.
    Natasha, using negatives words in pubic … i hope you mean public …


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