How shout­ing four-let­ter words can kill pain (doc­tors swear by it!)

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Roger Dob­son

NEVER mind pop­ping pills, re­searchers may have found a far more straight­for­ward way of re­liev­ing pain… swear­ing.

Yelling rude words can ac­tu­ally raise tol­er­ance to pain, ac­cord­ing to a study in which vol­un­teers un­der­went in­creas­ing dis­com­fort.

Those who swore were able to stand the pain for al­most twice as long as those who re­mained po­lite.

Swear­ing on ex­po­sure to pain has long been seen by some cul­tures as an ex­pected form of be­hav­iour.

So the re­searchers – from the Bri­tish uni­ver­si­ties of Keele and Cen­tral Lan­cashire – used not only Bri­tish vol­un­teers but also peo­ple from Ja­pan, where swear­ing is rarely seen as a cul­tur­ally ac­cept­able re­sponse to dis­com­fort. All were asked to put their non-dom­i­nant hand in ice-cold wa­ter.

Half were told to re­peat­edly use a swear word, ei­ther in English or Ja­panese, while the oth­ers used non-swear words.

The Bri­tish curs­ers were able to keep their hands in the wa­ter for 78.8 sec­onds, com­pared with 45.7 sec­onds for those us­ing the neu­tral word. The Ja­panese swear­ers man­aged 55.6 sec­onds, while the non-swear­ers could last for only 25.4 sec­onds.

‘In­di­vid­u­als from both cul­tures were more tol­er­ant of the pain­ful stim­u­lus when swear­ing and this was not ex­pected,’ said the re­searchers in the Scan­di­na­vian Jour­nal of Pain, adding: ‘Swear­ing could be en­cour­aged as an in­ter­ven­tion to help cope with acute pain­ful stim­uli.’

One the­ory is that swear­ing stim­u­lates the fight-or-flight re­sponse, caus­ing in­creased heart rate and tensed mus­cles. Pain sen­sa­tions are dulled as part of this re­sponse.

An­other is that swear­ing in­creases lev­els of emo­tion which can re­duce the sen­sa­tion of pain, an­i­mal stud­ies have sug­gested.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.