Fuck That Shit! Why Swearing May Be Good For You

Monday, December 16, 2013 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Have you ever been labeled a potty mouth? Do you wish you had a really good reason to swear, or at least some research to back up the fact that cursing seems to make you feel better? Look no further.

Swearing may mediate the fight or flight response. Don't believe me? Step on a Lego in the middle of the night and see how long it takes you to calm down while writhing in silent agony on the floor. Then go outside and ram your toe into a table leg and see how long it takes for the expletives to soothe your desire to take a baseball bat to Lego city.

Or don't. Whatever.

Ponder this though: while swear words tend to increase heart rate, research published in the neuroscience journal "Neuroreport" indicates that this increased heart rate may decrease adaptive "fear of pain" responses by preparing the body to tackle whatever caused the pain initially 1. Said another way, the heart rate increases brought on by cursing might help to make you feel better. That way, you can occupy yourself with running or punching the crap out of a predator, say a tiger. And if the culprit is a piece to some godawful board game, you may calm down more easily once that pain turned aggression is let loose in a cloud of expletives. Holding it in may do less for emotional health than you think, though to be fair, waking up the kids screaming over Legos is its own brand of Hell. At least there's no time for crying when you're fighting a tiger.

Emotional pain and physical pain seem to be irrevocably linked. However, while swearing may increase tolerance to pain, excessive swearing seems to decrease it's effectiveness 2. Swearing may also cause support systems to withdraw if used excessively, inappropriately or if it directed towards others 3.

In short, swearing might make things hurt less. Swearing might help you to regulate the emotions that come with stepping on a pin. But, if you tell your neighbor to "Fuck off" on a daily basis, you might cause additional problems that all the cursing in the world can't fix.

The Legos won't care, though. To be honest, I rarely need to embrace my inner sailor more than when I'm hobbling around the living room after gouging my foot with a plastic brick.   

Do you use swearing for stress relief? Why or why not?

If you liked this article, check out the “Get Notified” box in the upper right hand corner to make sure you don’t miss anything. Just add your email address and I will send future articles right to you, twice a week at most. Spam is for suckers.  

Citations
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19590391
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22078790
  3. http://dingo.sbs.arizona.edu/~mehl/eReprints/EARSwearingHP2011.pdf


Discussion

Discussion will be uncensored with the exception of law-breaking, spam, and douchebaggy disrespect to authors or other commenters. Act like adults, please, unless juvenile humor seems called for. If you can't get enough of us here, like Megsanity on Facebook.