Swearing Eases Emotional Pain, Study Confirms

Results of new research on swearing bode well for profanity enthusiasts of the world.

The study, said to be the first of its kind, was conducted by researchers at Massey University’s School of Psychology in New Zealand, and revealed that swearing when you bang your finger with a hammer has been shown to have a pain-killing impact. Cursing a blue streak over emotional pain (from a breakup, say) is good for what ails you too.

Michael Philipp, the study’s lead professor, split 70 subjects into two groups to test the Pain Overlap Theory. It hypothesizes that physical and emotional pain share the same root processing system.

Participants were instructed to write about a distressing social event to stir up a corresponding feeling, then asked to say a curse word or a non-curse word.

“The results suggest that socially distressed participants who swore out loud experienced less social pain than those who did not,” noted Philipp, whose study is published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. They also experienced less sensitivity to physical pain.

The study established that the use of profanity has a great palliative effect because it distracts the person in pain and reduces the intensity of the ache. Philipp cautions that despite these findings, cursing isn’t a fix for all our negative feels. It can’t relieve the deep emotional pain of grieving and other serious issues.

Moreover, it was established that frequent swearing reduces its cathartic impact.

So, there you have it. Time the use of those expletives wisely and you’ll appreciate the palliative effects.

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