British scientists have shown that swear words can have a powerful pain-killing effect, according to a new study published in the journal NeuroReport.Let's see "friggin' " and "forget you" do that shit.
The researchers originally thought that swearing would make pain worse by focusing a person’s attention on the injury and its implications. To prove their hypothesis, they set up an experiment with 67 college students.
The students were asked to plunge their hands into frigid 41-degree Fahrenheit water for as long as they could stand the pain. Half were told to repeat their favorite curse word while their hands were submerged. The other half were asked to repeat a neutral word describing a table, such as solid or brown, while keeping their hands under water. Then the whole experiment was repeated with the two groups switching types of word. (Favorite swear words were, as you might guess, the ones starting with "F" and "S." But since the subjects were British, the researchers also got an earful of "bollocks.")
To the researchers’ surprise, the cursing group not only reported lower levels of pain, but also were able to keep their hands in the icy water longer. The men in the study, for example, were able to keep their hands in the water for an average of 190 seconds while swearing, but for only 140 seconds when uttering a neutral word.
Given their analgesic effects, as well as morale and team-building value (and that they're just plain fun, too), I think it's time to stop maligning expletives as "bad" when they're really pretty fucking cool.