The Cursing Cure…

Richard Stephens, PhD, a lecturer in the School of Psychology at Keele University in England, did a research study on why the readiest words out of our mouths when we’re suddenly in pain usually contain four letters. Does swearing soothe the hurt?

Dr. Stephens recruited 64 students and asked them to keep one hand in a bucket of ice-cold water for as long as possible, and swear away, using their favorite expletive.  Then they were asked to repeat the process–this time saying a word they would typically use to describe a table (flat, brown, hard, etc.).

Cursing was curative…

Results: when the students swore, they were able to keep their hand in the icy water for an average of two minutes. When they didn’t swear, the average was one minute and 15 seconds. Later the students rated the intensity of their pain. During the two immersions there was less self-perceived pain when they swore. The findings were published in NeuroReport.

Dr Stephens’ theory is that those who swore had a higher heart rate. That means swearing might help trigger the fight or flight response–the body’s automatic response to immediate threat–which includes increased heart rate, decreased respiration, tighter muscles, and lower sensitivity to pain.

Don’t wear out swearing…

If you want to use swear words to decrease pain, it’s obvious to go ahead and swear, but don’t swear all the time. If you want to use the pain-lessening effect of swearing to your advantage, you need to do less causal swearing. Swearing is an emotional language; but if you over use it, it loses its emotional significance.

Other emotional languages and techniques that have proven to help with diminishing and even alleviating pain are through the use of hypnosis, guided imagery, and visualization.  Hypnotic techniques are used for relaxation and pain management in the areas of childbirth, surgeries, medical and dental procedures, and so much more.

And, what about that wonderful kiss a child receives from a parent when they’ve fallen and got a boo-boo? Those kisses always seem to cure all!

So the next time you experience pain, kiss it (if you can) instead of being mad at it, gently rub it, and/or even send it healing thoughts of light and love. You will be amazed…although swearing does help sometimes.

Wherever you go, there you are…therefore, be kind to yourself.

To your success,

Marla Brucker, DCH, R.HA