Good news: swearing and obscene gestures benefit us

When a person is in pain, he wrinkles his forehead, purses his lips and holds on to the injured area. People may also groan in pain, hold their breath, and become angry. On top of all this, when pain is severe and sudden, many of us swear loudly and dirtyly. You can hear a couple of strong words even from the calmest and quietest person in the company. Scientists believe that all these unconscious actions help us distract ourselves and reduce suffering. In an attempt to find out whether this is true or not, researchers have already conducted many scientific experiments. Some of them gave negative results. But in a recent study involving hundreds of students, a very interesting discovery was made. It seems that relief from pain is brought not only by swear words, but also by obscene gestures.

Good news: swearing and obscene gestures are good for us. Swearing is a good pain reliever - this has been proven in scientific experiments. Image: Federico Igea, Fotolia. Photo.

Exploring human pain

The scientific experiment, the results of which were published in the scientific journal Psychological Reports, involved 111 students. Most of the volunteers were girls with an average age of 19 years.

During the test, students had to immerse their hand in ice water and hold it for as long as possible. When a limb is immersed in cold, the blood vessels on a person's skin become greatly constricted. Due to changes in blood circulation in the vessels, a person begins to experience tingling, and then full-fledged pain.

A study of human pain. As part of the experiment, students were asked to hold their hand in cold water. Image: Dreamstime. Photo.

As part of the experiment, students were asked to hold their hand in cold water. Image: Dreamstime

The experiment was divided into several stages. During the first, participants held their hand in ice water, did not move and were silent. In the second stage, some volunteers were allowed to swear, while others were allowed to say ordinary words. In the third stage, one group could show an obscene gesture with the middle finger extended, while the other group showed a neutral gesture with the index finger.

As soon as the participants began to experience pain, they told the scientists about it and they timed it. As expected, shouting obscenities and making obscene gestures allowed the volunteers to endure pain longer than usual. But ordinary words and gestures did not provide any relief, and people pulled out their hand very quickly.

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Why swearing helps with pain

Scientists still don’t know exactly how obscene expressions and obscene gestures help us relieve pain. However, they have some interesting suggestions. For example, by uttering curses, a person can express all his accumulated feelings, which can reduce some of the psychological pressure. Also, dirty language can distract from suffering. Another version says that obscene language causes the release of endorphins – hormones that have an analgesic effect.

This is not the first study to show the benefits of swearing. In 2023, scientists found that swearing increased pain tolerance by about 33%. Scientists explained this by saying that profanity transmits signals to the amygdala of the brain to release adrenaline. This flow of hormones subsequently causes a calming and analgesic effect.

Why swearing helps with pain. Perhaps swearing gives the brain a signal to release hormones with an analgesic effect. Photo.

Because swearing is processed simultaneously in so many parts of the brain, it is a more effective distraction than anything else, explained neuroscientist Emma Byrne.

The researcher also emphasized that the power of swearing is so high that many people cannot even imagine it. For example, some patients with brain injuries often cannot speak due to pain, but they still have the strength to swear. The analgesic effect can also explain the fact that many women swear heavily during childbirth. Perhaps this helps reduce the level of pain at least a little.

Why swearing helps with pain. There are many types of pain, each of which is scary in its own way. Photo.

There are many types of pain, each of which is scary in its own way

< p>Most likely, obscene language and obscene gestures help relieve any kind of pain. For example, swearing can relieve the acute pain that occurs from bruises – it’s not without reason that many people swear when they hit their finger on the legs of furniture. There is also throbbing pain, which most often occurs with migraines and advanced caries. Burning pain usually torments people when they cut themselves. If pain causes suffering, you can forget about decency and swear. This conclusion suggests itself based on the research results.

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If you are interested, on our website there is an article about pain in the human body, which is considered the most severe. We recommend reading!