Swearing Cuts Pain, Dammit

Scientists suggest link to fight-or-flight response
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 12, 2009 12:05 PM CDT
Cursing may cut pain, a study suggests.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Stubbed your toe? Let loose a torrent of profanity and you may actually feel better, a study suggests. Scientists had subjects stick their hands in ice water for as long as they could, once while cursing and again using only G-rated language. The researchers discovered that cursing subjects could keep their hands underwater 40 seconds longer, on average. Heart rates also rose while subjects swore.

“We think it could be part of the flight or fight response,” says one researcher. The elevated heart rate could mean cursing is “increasing their aggression levels”—and “increased aggression has been shown to reduce people's sensitivity to pain, so it could be swearing is helping this process.”