Monday, July 13, 2009

F@$!ing Pain

I cut my finger with a knife last week. Nothing major, though on weekend inspection it looks like the knife went straight through. It hurt like hell though, and the first word out of my mouth when it happend was, "Fuck!" This was probably followed by a string of other colourful language.

I don't think that's an uncommon reaction, and it might not be a useless one either: A study to be published next month explores the impact of swearing on pain tolerance. In the experiment, undergraduate students were asked to submerge their hands in icy water (the only type of pain tested) and either swear or use non-profane words. The blog Neurophilosophy has more:
The researchers measured how long the participants kept their hands submerged in cold water, and asked them to rate the amount of pain they felt. Their heart rates were also recorded after they had submerged their hands in room temperature water as well as after the submersion in cold water. Contrary to their hypothesis, they found that swearing actually reduced the amount of pain felt. The participants kept their hands submerged in the cold water longer for longer, and also reported experiencing less pain, when they repeated a swear word than when they repeated a word describing a table. Swearing was also associated with increased heart rate.
It's uncertain whether this would apply to other types of pain, or if the severity of the word increases its effectiveness (bonus points for creative combos?) but next time you stub your toe or get a papercut try it out. It couldn't hurt.


Anonymous Coward said...

It's even more satisfying in french, there are more combos. Our language may be limited, but it is rich in swear words.

Alejandro Montenegro-Montero said...

English is such a nice language to swear in... ;-)

The Doc said...

Oh - there are few words in French with the same universal spitting venom that "fuck off" contain.

It's impossible to make 'fuck' sound polite.

As Billy Conolley puts it, "you never read "fuck off", he hinted".