While swearing has long been something that we have been told by parents, peers and teachers alike is “not necessary”, a recent study has revealed that the action of swearing actually relieves both physical and social pain.
Doctor Michael Philipp, a lecturer from Massey University’s School of Psychology, has recently published a study that suggests that swearing aloud may provide some relief for people who are experience “short-term social distress”. This can range from anything from a quarrel with your other half, to being left out in a social situation, he says.
Dr Philipp’s study went against traditional practices of using medical methods, such as paracetamol to relieve pain, and instead looked at whether people’s common expletive cry after stubbing their toe, could in fact be helping get rid of their agony.
Using the “Pain Overlap Theory”, which asserts physical and social/ emotional pain, he conducted an experiment using 70 participants, split into two groups.
Both groups were tested for feelings of social pain and sensitivity as well as physical pain.
This was after they had written about an inclusive or distressing social event, which then induced the relevant emotional response. After that they were either to swear out loud or not say anything.
The results were conclusive in suggesting that those socially distressed patients who let out the sneaky f-word or other expletives experienced less social pain than those who said nothing. Moreover, they were also then less sensitive to physical pain, according to Dr Phillip.
You may be wondering how saying a naughty word does all this. Well, the researchers claim that when we swear we are then distracted from the pain, somewhat diluting the intensity of the emotion we feel.
So pretty much, you are entitled to a sneaky “sh*t!” when in pain.
Though be warned, Dr Philipps warns that overusing swears could lessen the profanity’s impact when you need it most.