May 20, 2020
Imagine this situation. You’re doing a home improvement project and you hit your thumb with the hammer. “$%&#@!,” you exclaim! Is your response appropriate? You might want to reconsider your approach.
According to a research study conducted by Richard Stephens, a psychologist and author of Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad, using profanity helps people endure pain more effectively. In the study he had sixty-nine volunteers put their hands in ice cold water. They were able to leave their hands in the frigid water nearly 50 percent longer when they were permitted to use profanity than when they were not. Their perception of pain went down. The volunteers experienced less pain while using profanity.
According to my Google search, using profanity engages both hemispheres of the brain. The left hemisphere (where the brain’s language center is located) and the right hemisphere (where the brain’s emotional center is located) more effectively work together while swearing. This is the reason struck survivors and stutterers can express themselves when they use profanity when they otherwise can’t speak.
I have noticed that some of my clients are able to be more open when they feel like they can use profanity in session. I believe it aids in their honesty in their interactions with me.
So maybe give yourself permission to yell “#$%&*!” the next time you hit your thumb or someone scares the “#$%^&” out of you.
– Mark Walker, LPC