Ditto the poor slob who inadvertently slams a car door on his hand or who falls off a ladder. More often than not, what follows from grievously stimulating the body’s pain receptors is a stream of choice swear words – – – &#%!@?!
But superfluous or not, research reported last month in the aptly named “Journal of Pain“ suggests that another answer to the old advertising slogan, “How do you spell relief?” may be a four-letter epithet. The latest research report, “Swearing as a Response to Pain—Effect of Daily Swearing Frequency,” appears to be a variation on a theme from a prior 2009 study, “Swearing as a response to pain.“
That earlier study theorized that “Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing.” And more significantly, the two psychologists who published those findings wrote that “The observed pain-lessening (hypoalgesic) effect may occur because swearing induces a fight-or-flight response and nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception.”
College undergrads were asked to put one hand in near freezing cold water until they couldn’t take it anymore. Along with this, they were told to unleash expletive(s) of their choice at a constant rate and volume. They were also asked to utter a neutral word. Cursing helped 3/4th of the students to tolerate the cold water test for a longer period of time than the non-swearers.
Now this pain research study came to mind because last week, there was the news account, “Hunting dog shoots owner in the buttocks.” As reported by the “Salt Lake Tribune,” an excited hunting dog scampering around in a boat, accidentally jumped on a shotgun laid across the bow by a duck hunter who was in the water when it went off. The unidentified 46-year old man ended up with buckshot in the butt. But because he was wearing waders, the injuries were not believed to be serious.
Assuming that swearing in response to gluteal buckshot pain is just as called-for as cursing a cold-ass hand in a bucket of water, I further wonder whether the duck hunter could have obtained as much relief by also cussing out the hunting dog?
And in that other more famous bird hunting accident known as the “Dick Cheney hunting incident,” would gunshot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington gotten any of that supposed relief by swearing? Or how about by cussing out the hunting Dick?