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****** ****! Why swearing out loud helps us cope with pain

15 March 2019

Have you ever stubbed your toe and instinctively turned the air blue as a result?

Coarse language might be frowned upon in polite company, but there’s actually a scientific reason why we feel the need to let rip.

Professor Richard Stephens of Keele University spoke to Brainwaves:-

Why does swearing help us cope with pain?

Professor Richard Stephens on the ‘emotional jolt’ of strong language.

“By swearing,” explained Professor Stephens, ”you’re giving yourself an emotional jolt and you’re self-activating the fight or flight response.”

This reaction not only prompts changes in the body – such as increased adrenaline and faster breathing – but it also activates naturally occurring pain relief.

“[This is] called stress-induced analgesia,” said Professor Stephens. “That’s the mechanism by which we think swearing helps people cope with pain.”

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