August 29, 2009

Swearing helps withstand pain

From Science & Vie, September 2009:

Cursing diminishes the experience of pain and increases tolerance to it. Richard Stephens and hiscolleagues at Keele University in Great Britain have observed the behaviour and pulse of volunteers immersing an arm into water at 5 C. The result is astonishing: they could keep their arm immersed for a longer time when they were allowed to swear and curse ad libidum than when they were using a neutral word used to describe a table. Moreover, their cardiac rhythm increased, a proof of natural survival reflex. According to the researchers, cursing could cut the link between fear and experience of pain, therefore providing both psychological and physical benefits. Researchers note that this universal reflex should be used only in case of pain, lest it would lose it's effect. It has not been proven yet whether, in addition to allowing withstaning pain longer, it also allows withstanding stronger pain.

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