Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Swear

When I was in my last year of school, I told my unconventional mother that I planned to share a home with a couple of Christian girls. Her first reaction was, “So what are you gonna say if you hit your thumb with a hammer? Oh darn? Bummer?” Concluding with, “Good luck.”

They say some behaviors skip a generation or they continue. Well, not in my wild family. Nana was discreetly wild. Mom was out of control. And then there’s me. But when my daughter was 14, she declared, “Swearing is the dumbing of America.”

Well, in England one group feels a lot like my mom.

Apparently there is physical relief from swearing. And though this is not about Tourette’s syndrome, it could be related. In the University of California–Berkeley Wellness Letter (Nov. 2009), they report that Keele University’s School of Psychology in England conducted a study indicating swearing helps people better endure pain.* Researchers determined that using an irreverent word “triggers not only an emotional response but a physical one too.”

I’ve seen both responses—emotional and physical—demonstrated in close succession in bars when some guy says to another guy something about his mother. “What did you say?” Pop in the ol’ kisseroo. Response time from emotional to physical: one nanosecond.

The sixty-four undergraduates participating in the Keele study placed their hands in icy water while repeating their favorite naughty word, such as twaddlefart or poppycock.

Once thawed, the students repeated the icy-water dip, but this time each said a more mundane, no-one-would-cast-a-finger word, such as wet, chilly, or well whadaya know…more ice water.

The result: While using the more unpleasant word, students, in general, withstood more icy pain.

The deduction: When heading into a painful situation, such as court or hiatal hernia surgery without anesthesia, first soak in ice water and fully express yourself, so all your maledictions will be dispersed beforehand. (Though if court is the dreaded destination, I’d suggest icing the lawyers instead.)

So if it’s uncommon for you to curse, you may want to find one or two gems to tuck into your cache of infrequently used words, just in case you find yourself in pain. Ocr around one.

copyright © 2010 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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  1. Your mom was wrong about the Christian girls. Many of the ones I've known have had no problem cursing up a storm.

  2. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  3. To Donskiman:
    Things have changed! Back in 1980, these gals wouldn't say poop if they had a mouthful of it!

    To Anonymous:
    Thank you! Sometimes as I age, though, I think younger ones might be better—I mean earlier ones ; )


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