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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Away, cursed pain!

This shouldn't be any big !*&!@# surprise:

Scientists from Keele University found that letting forth a volley of foul language can have a powerful painkilling effect, especially for people who do not normally use expletives.

To test the theory, student volunteers placed their hands in a bucket of ice cold water while swearing repeatedly.

They then repeated the exercise but, instead of swearing, used a harmless phrase instead.

Researchers found that the students were able to keep their hands submerged in the icy water for longer when repeating the swear word - establishing a link between swearing and an increase in pain tolerance.

They also found that the pain-numbing effect was four times more likely to work in the volunteers who did not normally use bad language.

Hearing the bad language from people who don't ordinarily use it can have a certain numbing effect, too. When I grew up, it was still common for parents to modify their actions and language "in front of the children" to set a good example. Vulgarisms they would freely express in a casual setting with friends would remain unuttered in front of the kids. I'm enough of a fuddy-duddy that it bothers me to hear parents today freely cuss in front of their children. Anyway, when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I was with my father at work one day when he hit his thumb with a hammer and uttered a four-letter epithet I'd heard and used regularly with classmates but didn't even know my father knew. I couldn't stop thinking about it for days.

I also find whimpering and whining has a numbing effect. Try it next time you have to do something you dislike, accompanied by "I don't waaa-whah-waaaant to" in a nasally, wavering voice. You'll be surprised how much better it makes you feel.