Swearing nowadays is quite the cool quotient among adolescents and adults alike. Swearing can be funny when said in one’s mother tongue or in a colloquial dialect. Swearing also feeds the macho ego. Swearing can be innocent at times and quite repulsive at others. Swearing is also offensive. For some it's just a bad habit they can't let go of. Swearing is all this and more.
Swearing can have a lot of reasons to back the act, like anger, rejection, over the top enthusiasm, and fear. But pain is a feeling that seems to have given all other emotions a run for their money. Pain as we know is the strongest of emotions a human feels and that is exactly the reason why painful memories are etched in our brains forever. Do you know anyone who goes on a swearing rant under pain? Or are you one of them? Ever wondered why, those characters in Quentin Tarantino movies swear a lot in pain?
The universality of this phenomenon (ever stubbed your toe onto something), encouraged psychologist Richard Stevens of Keele University in England to test whether or not our vocabulary, mainly the profanity we use on a day to day basis, had an impact on how we deal with pain.
Encouraging 67 college students to submerge their hands in ice cold water, a certain subset of those students were encouraged to scream as many profanities as they liked while the others were forced to use much more “vanilla” words. After comparison, it was found that the group which screamed out profanities was able to keep their hands submerged in the icy temperatures for 40 seconds longer than the control group.
The interesting study prompted us to ask the youth of Chennai regarding this. “To put it simply, for me it comes out quickly. I don’t know the science behind it but it certainly helps in relieving pain at least for some time...” says Abhishek Nair, a student at SRM University.
Deepti Sri, a student from MCC seconded the opinion, “Swearing in pain distracts me for a while and helps me channelise my energy in getting over it.”
However, the author claims that the effect will wear off on those who swear frequently and his study just suggests that people should be patient with others who swear when under pain. “Like, if I hit myself with something, I’m going to definitely follow it by a swear word. The verbal abuse somehow mentally makes you feel less pain,” says Riya Callaghan, a student.
“It's more like a momentary thing, but after certain period I feel pain, even though it is lessened to a certain level,” added Anoop Pillai, a diploma student.