Swearing may help you to beat pain: Study
Bad language can act as a powerful painkiller -- at least, for those who don't normally use expletives.
London: It may sound a bit strange, but swearing may actually help you beat the pain, a new British study has claimed.
Researchers at the Keele University in the UK found that bad language can act as a powerful painkiller -- at least, for those who don't normally use expletives.
For them, the researchers said, swearing in the face of genuine pain is up to four times more effective than it is for more regular swearers, the Daily Mail reported.
For the study, the researchers recruited 71 young adults and divided them into two groups -- those who normally utter fewer than ten swear words a day, and those who utter up to 40 daily.
All of them were asked to dip their hands into ice cold water and hold them there as long as possible.
They were first asked to do so while repeating a non-swear word, then again while repeating a swear word of their choosing.
Those who usually swear less often were able to withstand the icy water while swearing for up to 45 seconds longer than when they did not swear. But the frequent daily swearers were able to withstand the icy water for just ten seconds longer compared to when they did not swear.
Dr Richard Stephens, who led the research, said the findings showed that swearing can release pain-killing endorphins.
"Swearing provokes an emotional response in the face of stress akin to the 'flight and fight' response (how the body reacts to perceived threat or danger)," he explained.
But the study showed that if people really want to benefit from swearing they should save it up for when it really matters -- and when they are in genuine pain.
He added: "I think the benefit of swearing as a response to pain lies in the field either before medical intervention arrives or for minor injuries.
"You stub your toe, you let fly with some expletives and you move on. But as our new study shows -- if you overdo casual everyday swearing, then it seems that you would not get the benefit of letting fly with an expletive at that moment when you injure yourself."
But Dr Stephens advised against official NHS backing for cursing.
"Swearing is impolite and has connotations with rowdy behaviour and I'd suspect advocating its use in healthcare would cause more problems than it would solve," he said.
"So in a healthcare setting, the usual range of analgesics should continue to be applied."
The new findings will be released at a Psychological Society conference in Glasgow next month.
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