Everyone has memories from their childhood that they will never forget. Specifically, I remember sprinting down my hall, into the bathroom and locking the door as quickly as I could. Why? It was the only room in our house with locks on the door and I was running away from my mother because I had just said a “bad word.”
My mom followed the old adage of “use dirty language, wash your mouth out with soap,” with her own modern twist. She was concerned about what eating soap would do to her kids, so instead we were forced to drip spicy Tabasco sauce on our tongues. I can still remember the sting. It wasn’t until now that I learned swearing could actually help that pain.
According to scientists at Keele University in the United Kingdom swearing can ease agony. In their study they asked 68 volunteers to submerge one of their hands into ice water while repeating one swear word out of a list of “five words you might use after hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer.” The experiment was done another time but with one of “five words to describe a table.”
Volunteers were able to keep their hands in the ice water longer when they cursed. Researchers noted that the participants’ heart rates accelerated and their pain perception reduced. Scientists wrote in the July 13 issue of NeuroReport that they believe swearing triggers a “flight-or-fight” response and increases aggression.
For now, I have come to terms with my Tabasco stinging tongue days. I actually like the stuff now – no expletives needed.