That caught you off-guard didn’t it? You didn’t know there were positives to swearing, did you? The other day I made a post about children swearing, which generated a lot of great responses and even a small debate. One thing that I did not include in the original post, “What the @#$%!#”, was that there have been studies conducted that show that swearing actually has positive effects.
According to a study performed in 2009 by Richard Stephens of Keele University in England along with other colleagues, “Swearing also makes it easier to bear pain” (Pappas, 2012). This study had volunteer submerge their hands into a tub of ice water where some were told to swear when and while their hands were submerged, while other volunteers repeated, “a boring, nonobscene adjective” (Pappas, 2012). Those who swore while participating were able to leave their hands submerged for longer periods of time than those who weren’t swearing. According to Stephens, “It’s possible that swearing increases aggression and thus pain tolerance” (Pappas, 2012) which would explain why people can take pain more easily when they allow themselves to curse.
According to Timothy Jay, “Swearing also serves a purpose of expressing emotion more deeply, succinctly and cathartically than other types of speech,” (Pappas, 2012) and I could certainly see swearing being more cathartic than regular types of speech. For example, when you’re feeling down, have you ever just let out a string of swear words and suddenly felt at least a tiny bit better? I know I have. There this common misconception that people who use swear words are low-lives with a small vocabulary, but in reality it shows that these people actually probably have better control over their vocabulary because they don’t restrict themselves as much. Do I think this condones dropping f-bomb after f-bomb? No, but I’ve met some people who say they don’t swear and they often seem, to me, a lot more wound up than those who swear freely. Those who swear know how to express themselves and their deepest emotions, which is one point that Jay made in the above quote.
Swearing is just another way that people can express themselves and isn’t that what we’re always telling our children? “Be yourself” and “Let out your emotions” are some things that I’ve often heard parents tell their children, so what if “being yourself” involves swearing and what if a child feels the need to use a swear word to express what they’re feeling? Can a child really be punished for expressing themselves like their parents have been encouraging them to do all of their life? Personally, I don’t think so. If you say that they should find other ways of expressing themselves, then in actuality you’re telling them to hide who they are and to withhold their emotions because they cannot express themselves in the way that they want to express themselves.
I have to point out a comment that was made on my last post because I think that it’s a very valid point that ties into all of this very well. Roach, from My Name is Roach, made the comment, “who decides what is a swear, why did they pick that word?” This is something that my husband and I have talked and thought about for quite some time. Why do we put so much weight on these words when they’re just words like any other word? Why isn’t “chair,” “television,” “pillow,” or something of the like a swear word? From my understanding, these words were dubbed as “swears” centuries ago, but it doesn’t seem as if anyone really knows why. No, this isn’t a positive of swearing, but it’s something to contemplate and something I think people really should think about. Swearing does have a lot of positives to it, so why is it that we only see the negative?
Did you think there were positives to swearing? What are your thoughts on why we deem words as “negative”?
Pappas, S. (2012, January 18). ‘Modern Family’ tot’s potty mouth no big deal, experts say. Retrieved from http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/18/10184299-modern-family-tots-potty-mouth-no-big-deal-experts-say
Posted on June 22, 2012 by Felicia