Earlier this month, Global News asked me to appear on the 6 o’clock news to comment on the social taboo of foul language or cursing and swearing. I was being asked to comment on the etiquette of cursing–an oxymoron if ever I heard one! (Swearing – meaning solemn promise – is another subject for another day.)
A recent study by British psychologist Dr. Richard Stephens had just been released, linking the use of four letter words, profanities, vulgarities – by whichever name you call them – with pain management.
Intrigued by his wife’s use of expletives during labour and the midwife’s confirmation that strong language is a frequent occurrence in the birthing rooms of Britain, he decided to investigate. While student volunteers immersed their hands in frigid ice water, he monitored the endurance variances between two groups – those encouraged to swear or curse, and those reduced to chanting a simple chorus without profanities. In a nutshell, the rude team won.
My initial reaction to Dr. Stephens’ study was to chuckle. Essentially, he was telling us that strong language helps people cope with stress. But what are the repercussions? After all, Dr. Stephens probably conducted his research in an isolated laboratory. Maybe swearing does help shift the focus away from pain, but lashing out with profane or coarse language is offensive to most people within earshot.
Eating pastry or cake – delicious as these treats may be – packs on pounds. Savouring that “sweet moment” of speaking your mind may have more serious consequences than a few morsels of high calorie cake. No point in swearing at your boss for a single feel-good second – unless you’re ready to lose your job. Swearing can easily damage a reputation; it’s anti-social behaviour. If on the other hand, an outburst of strong language will help alleviate stress without any serious repercussions, go ahead @%$#%@!
Perhaps you’ve savoured a moment of bliss following a hastily delivered tirade, or maybe you’re a role model of self-restraint. What do you do when you’re hot under the collar, ready to blow-up or blow a fuse? Share a solution or let us know your thoughts.
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