BBC News has a story about a Keele University study on pain and cussing. It appears that if you cuss after you’ve hit your thumb with a hammer, you’ll endure the pain 50% longer than somebody that doesn’t. The author of this study, Dr. Richard Stephens, got the idea for the study after banging his thumb with a hammer while building his garden shed. The story says:
He recruited 64 volunteers to take part and each individual was asked to submerge their hand in a tub of freezing water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice.
They were then asked to repeat the experiment, this time using a more commonplace word that they would use to describe a table.
Despite their initial expectations, the researchers found that the volunteers were able to keep their hands plunged in the ice water for a longer period of time when repeating the swear word.
Dr. Stephen’s team believes that “the pain-lessening effect occurs because swearing triggers our natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response.”
But this cussing pain relief doesn’t work if you cuss frequently.
[Dr. Stephens] cautioned: “If they want to use this pain-lessening effect to their advantage they need to do less casual swearing. Swearing is emotional language but if you overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment.”
So maybe we should only curse when it means something. The less, the better?