Recent Blog Articles

Pain

&%!!# helps when you're hurting

February 01, 2012

 

In 2009, British psychology researchers reported the results of a study that showed swearing altered pain perception. The study volunteers could hold a hand in ice-cold (41 degrees F) water about 40 seconds longer if they repeated a swear word of their choosing instead of a control word (one of five words they had picked for describing a table).

Swearing was also associated with an increase in heart rate, so the psychologists theorized that the body's fight-or-flight response is activated by the emotions that swearing produces. Pain perception takes a backseat once the body is in fight-or-flight mode.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.