back to article Hurt yourself? Try f**king swearing

A team from Blighty's Keele University has confirmed what all of us who've ever hit our thumbs with a hammer have known for years - that swearing can relieve pain. To confirm this foul-mouthed finding, psychologist Richard Stephens and his colleagues asked 67 student volunteers to stick their hands in icy water and either gob …

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Rob
Boffin

Think if the children

Is this research we pay for? Why can't I get a science degree in the bloody obvious?

I've also taken it 1 stage further and growl instead of swear, protects the little'un's ears at the same time and is more effective than swearing, probably cause it's more primal.... there you go, I've just expanded on their research, someone throw me a wad of public cash.

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Happy

Pee po belly bum drawers

That is all.

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Have you just hit your foot daddy?

My own recent non-scientific experiment would concur with these findings. During some recent DIY maintenance I was distracted by my three year old daughter toddling towards the hole in which I was working, enough to hit my own foot with the sledge hammer I was using. Because of her presence I could not use the vernacular and I can testify it hurt more and for longer than if I had been able to explete. My pain was further compounded by her innocent questioning "Daddy, have you just hit your foot?" the answer through gritted teeth was "Yes darling I have" and, as I hobbled out of the hole "does it hurt daddy?" - it would have hurt a damned sight less had I been able to say "Of course is f@</ing hurts, oh sh1t and bl@@dy balls"!!!!! This is the real reason you never see young children on building sites.

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Flame

The Elder Swear

Now all we need to do is find an ancient and powerful swearword so strong that it cancels out all pain felt.

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Coat

What a load of

F**king B*llocks

Mine is the blue one

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WTF?

Why wait till you hurt yourself?

The more BOFHly amongst us will assuredly inflict pain on others while also swearing at them. It certainly helps make me feel better.

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FINALLY!

It's about F*&$ING time someone scientifically proved what I've been telling my F#$%ING wife all of these years about why I curse.

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Is it just me...

..or is this the best non-sexual research a student can do?

Testing would require:

- repeatedly hurting people with hammers

- swearing

- playing with funky brain-scanning toys

- ...er, that's it

Brilliant. Wish I'd thought of it.

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Interesting

I wonder if they know how the swear word becomes stored / linked to that part of your brain.

Everyone has to learn swear words the same way they learn normal words so something must cause certain words to be connected in this way.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Study should cite Hale & Pace

They made this point years ago, in a wonderful song entitled "Bollocks".

"When you hit your thumb with a hammer/

An 'Ouch' will just not do..."

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Paris Hilton

Good grief...

The sorts of things they come up with (and presumably somehow acquire funding) for studies never ceases to amaze me.

Personally I would interpret the results that the people who were told "swear your head off" were so amused by it that they were in a better state of mind to endure.

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Anonymous Coward

Caught before the arse

I can only assume that all the morons that insist on swearing all the time, and thus devalue the exquisite power of the words, are constantly hurting very badly inside their tiny little minds. If not, then a mandatory clubbing with a 4 by 2 plank would give them good cause.

Can we have a grumpy old man icon please? Ballmer would do.

Nicely.

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Anonymous Coward

must be true,

last night I stubbed my toe, my 30 second stream of expletives, was nothing compared to the 5 min tirade my wife gave me for using bad language.

She was hurt because the vicar had come round to discuss the newborns christeneing, over a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

I can see her point really.

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Joke

Re: The Elder Swear

"...and lo, the very air itself turned blue and a great silence fell upon all. Much redness was seen upon the faces of the assembled multitudes and as one they shuffled their feet and looked unto the firmament for guidance. Then one spake into the silence, saying: 'Fuck me. Did you just make that up or what?'"

Book of Expletives: Chapter 4, verse 8.

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Boffin

Habitual users

I have to agree a few shouted expletives do lessen pain, but I wonder if the effect is the same for habitual users of such expletives?

You know the sort. "My f'ing missus put f'ing lettuce in my f'ing sandwich again. I keep f'ing telling her I don't f'ing like f'ing lettuce but I keep f'ing getting it."

(Actual overheard conversation. I was left wondering how his 'missus' managed to make sandwiches *at all* when she, the lettuce and the sandwich were all simultaneously attempting to copulate. I imagine it would make the bread rather soggy.)

Apart from being a waste of breath and demonstrating a minuscule intellect, does such habitual use of expletives lessen their effect when used as an analgesic?

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Anonymous Coward

But.

Swearing makes the baby Jesus cry.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Habitual users

Pfft. The whole 'miniscule intellect' thing is bollocks. All of the most intelligent people I know are inveterate cursers. New research is needed.

I refer you to Arthur Smith's retort to accusations that a tendency to use profanity indicates a limited vocabulary: "You senescent misanthrope, fuck off."

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WTF?

Research + Bleeding Obvious

Must be lots but here's mine.

There was the research report some years, even decades, ago (was it from Canada?) related to the loss of rubber from car tyres.

Boffin/Research Student/Non-car driving ninnie : "I wonder where it all goes?"

Millions of dollars later :

"Ah! It's deposited in fine granules within a few yards of the edge of the road. Tell the World!"

Swearing helps a hammered thumb but how to achieve closure when faced with such jaw-dropping inane pointless stupidity (which somebody got paid for)?

Cheers

PhilipN

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Ted Dziuba feels no pain

And I fucking love lettuce.

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what about kids

This must be true, swearing is not routinely used (or allowed) by kids when they hurt themselves. but they from pain more it seems, so this resrearch must be true.

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The moderatrix has me by the contextuals

I'm prone to disagree, I'm not saying that you don't know some very bright people who swear a lot but largely, people who swear constantly tend to be those lacking adequete means of self expression. Swear words are usually used where you cannot find an adequete word to make your point, usually. I imagine that ties with the part of the brain they're in "oh dear out comes the emergancy vocabulary things can't be great" . However should you be reaching for those words a lot, it does indicate that your self expression needs work (there are alternatives to swearing, like extreme sarcasm, intonation and careful use of vivid descriptives). Or as this article now shows, you're supressing pain. I swear most if I'm a little overwhelmed, over excited or frustrated.

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Megaphone

I call bullshit!

That said, I don't see how this works. Is it the cussing that creates the biological response or the biological response generating the cussing? Big fucking deal, the amygdala is linked to cussing and increases in heart rate. That doesn't tell us diddly-squat about how they are linked, now does it? Oh look, we have A and notice B therefore B is because of A, I thought these were scientists.

Could it be that those with a more reactive amygdala are more prone to opt for cussing? Perhaps this study could be turned into something more useful like finding an easy way to distinguish "Type A" personalities from "Type B" personalities and so forth. I know I will sleep better at night knowing some dumb arse scientist got his clock cleaned after randomly whacking people with a stick.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: The moderatrix has me by the contextuals

I'm not suggesting swearing indicates a great intellect - it just doesn't preclude it.

And I know people who use swears beautifully and ingeniously, or simply use swears as punctuation in otherwise complex and pleasingly-formed sentences rich in style and content. There's more than one way to swear.

I don't know why people still have such a thing about it, or why 'alternatives' are really necessary. Swearing can be ever so liberating, especially if you're a bit overburdened with brains. Context is all, anyway. Small-minded people talking crap and swearing for emphasis or shock value or out of indolence sound ugly and noxious. Searingly intelligent and creative people swearing loud and long and clear as if flying a magnificent kite of fuck is a different matter entirely.

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Joke

"Cussing relieves pain, psychologists confirm"

Then Ted Dziuba must be in near constant agony.

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Coffee/keyboard

Glorious!

Thank you Sarah Bee. The phrase "Searingly intelligent and creative people swearing loud and long and clear as if flying a magnificent kite of fuck" will live long in my memory.

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Anonymous Coward

@ imposter

"Swear words are usually used where you cannot find an adequete word to make your point, usually."

I disagree. For example: "Big fucking deal".

The expletive is not a replacement for anything, it is merely being used to underline meaning. Perhaps you'ld rather "Very Big Deal". I have heard phrases like "Big hairy deal", but "hairy" in this instance is just a more acceptable stand in for "fuck" and still an expletive.

Another example:

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

Again, the f-word isn't actually replacing any non-expletives. Expletives (and "fuck" in particular) are often used to underline meaning when no other concise grammatical construction is available.

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"flying a magnificent kite of fuck"

*bows*

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Belgium.

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh Great....

Keele's my insurance choice for university.

So I might end up going there.... i'm starting to regret that choice now :/

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UBO

How to I apply to be a researcher at the University of the Bleeding Obvious, then?

I hope they remembered to ask the bloke who recently sawed his own dick off.

Perhaps it could also help maternity units save on epidurals, although I can see it might leave an indelible imprint on a few newborn minds...

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Anonymous Coward

So what does that say about me

The only time I have ever experienced unbelievably excruciating pain, I was over come with desire to NOT swear in front of all the nice police, ambulance crew and passers by who kindly came to help me?

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Bronze badge

Re: Re: The moderatrix has me by the contextuals #

"as if flying a magnificent kite of fuck" - nice one.

I agree. Years ago I worked as a labourer in a steelworks, as a summer job when I was a student. Being a grimy, macho environment, swearing profusely was de rigeur and I remember one old guy who used obscenities like punctuation.

But his story telling skills were legendary and he would have us in stitches every break time with his tall tales and observations on life.

It might be true that thick people with no imagination swear a lot, but that's no excuse to rule it out of bounds for everyone else. Swearing is a tool in your linguistic toolbox - and like most tools it should be used properly.

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Headmaster

Only in English?

Merde! The English claim painful superiority! As the Espagnols say, your father nibbles the grass of my hospital.

Ahh! This much lessens the pain of Frenchitude.

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Good news

for Gordon Ramsay then. He won't feel a thing.

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@Evil Graham

***"Swearing is a tool in your linguistic toolbox - and like most tools it should be used properly."***

Spot on.

My rant was against those people who cannot string 3 or more words together without at least one of them being "f**king"**. Using the 'toolbox' analogy, its like using a screwdriver for doing everything from banging in nails to scraping paint. Only rarely is it used for its intended purpose.

** And it *is* always "f**king". F'ing this, f'ing that. Never does the monotony get broken with more original expletives.

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Haaa, didn't I know just from the title which creativity this would release ...

Know what, let's agree on not overdoing it but, in homeopathic doses. It's like with all of the real good stuff, sometimes less is more.

Let's maintain the freedom though to call bullshit bullshit, whenever it comes along, in whatever form. Makes sense ?

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Pint

so the amygdala is connected to the f-bone

and we are once and again in awe of the moderatrix.

I would say, we bow down to you....but that may be going to far.

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WTF?

as said before

Fuck the fucking fuckers.

With any word other than "fuck" the above sentence would make no sense. Swearing is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that the above makes perfect sense. If swearing has such far reaching linguistic effects, touching unknown comprehension centres deep within the brain, then I guess it's possible that it has healing effects as well.

Don't be surprised when you next visit the Doc and he tells you to quit fucking smoking, he really is trying to heal you.

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Pint

@Evil Graham

F*ck the f*cking f*ckers is one of my favouries :)

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Silver badge

Bollocks.

Actually, the logical way to act after hurting ones self or becoming hurt by an outside source is to quietly take stock of the situation, and then proceed with the logical solution to avoid further pain. Without histrionics. It's a survival thing ... if you get very loud and call attention to a vulnerability, that's how and where you'll be attacked.

Ask any martial artist. Or big cat.

The scientists quoted in the article are a bunch of fuckwits.

That said, if you think swearing helps, feel free. I've probably head worse on 6 continents, and I hope to get to the seventh (Antarctica) eventually, where I fully expect to hear similar :-)

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Coffee/keyboard

I heard once...

a female song composer during an interview: "What will you say when you stub your toe on a rock? Nice little rocky, so beautiful, standing on my path? Hell no, you will curse the pain and call the rock such a long list of cussing names, that even *it* would blush."

I almost fell off the chair laughing when I heard that.

We need a Ned Flanders icon... just for this one.

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Happy

@Eponymous Cowherd

"F'ing this, f'ing that. Never does the monotony get broken with more original expletives."

I really wanking agree with you man ...

No, sorry, it's not working for me.

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@ John Dee

In response, I respectfully submit the following:

http://www.ilovewavs.com/comedy/Misc/fuck.wav

Cheers!

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The ultimate guide to swearing

http://naamah-darling.livejournal.com/248104.html#cutid1

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Coffee/keyboard

Replacement required

And not a M*cr*s*ft one, either.

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WTF?

The Dude knew it

The Dude knew it all along:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvvxndPKtfk

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WTF?

@jake

"Actually, the logical way to act after hurting ones self or becoming hurt by an outside source is to quietly take stock of the situation, and then proceed with the logical solution to avoid further pain. Without histrionics. It's a survival thing ... if you get very loud and call attention to a vulnerability, that's how and where you'll be attacked.

Ask any martial artist. Or big cat."

Our big cat definitely swears loudly when you tread on his feet.

And the whole point of the huge amounts of training that martial artists go through is so that they can do things DESPITE generations of evolution. What they do is logical, sure, but it ain't what the vast majority of the animal kingdom (including us) do when we are in pain.

So I don't think there is any evidence that the scientists are, as you so inelegantly call them, fuckwits; and. with respect, I think the only person talking bollocks is you.

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Coat

@ TeeCee

Holy Jesus Tapdancing Christ in Tittyfucking Heaven, did you make me laugh like a drain with that Book of Expletives entry.

You, sir, should be given a book and/or TV show deal.

And is anyone else turned on by the Moderatrix' School Ma'amly ways? No?

Just me then.

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Megaphone

"Fuck" as interjection

I often hear "fucking" used in place of "um", "er" etc by blokes who are disjointed speakers but are also afraid someone else will get a word in edgeways.

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Boffin

Hmm...

Swearing when hurt never seems to do me any good as it's not the word or its associations that help, just the sheer amount of energy/volume that can be put behind it.

Were the people not swearing saying the substitute words in a fairly quiet, embarrassed way or was it a full throated, window-rattling bellow? I could let rip with a lengthy description of someone/something's history, origins and/or personal habits at length at a normal volume and get less satisfaction than a simple, uncomplicated, incoherent scream of rage at a volume level sufficient to make small children (and some adults) wet themselves.

I'd imagine that it's the release of adrenaline that triggers the lessening of the perceived pain, is linked to the amygdala and (somewhat coincidentally) tends to trigger an increase in the heart rate. More research is required and I suggest that the so called "scientists" from the University of the Bleedin' obvious be used as victims, sorry I mean to say "test subjects".

The beautiful verse from TeeCee and that marvellous expression "flying a magnificent kite of fuck" from the Moderatrix are now indelibly etched in my memory :)

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