Ah, profanity.

It can be such a relief to let loose those aggressive little words. And according to science, it just might not be such a bad thing all the time.

Not terribly unlike Jay and Bob, I too grew up in a house where we would all occasionally morph into Linda Blair and vomit out a cocktail of lewd invectives from a spinning head when we felt powerless or angry. The only difference was that afterward, we’d promptly dust of our shoulders, adjust our clothes, give a dignified sniff, and return to faking normal. Who me? Human? Mental breakdown? Nay, sir. You’ve the wrong person, my good friend.

Yet, a closer look at lewd and disrespectful diction deems it can be a good thing on a protective level. What was observed in recent studies was the fact that “endogenous opioids” are often released (that’s our brain’s built in pain-reliever system) when people in discomfort go ahead and curse their situation. While this may sound like it runs counter to the whole negativity-is-a-thing-that-builds concept, the brevity and infrequency in the rude verbalizing of discontent is what’s key.

For example, when test subjects were asked to hold their hands under super-cold water to the point of it being painful – there were different classes of response with their built-in pain reliever systems. Those allowed to damn their frigid digit sitch often got more relief than those who weren’t permitted to. However, those who make F-bombs and Mother-F-bombs and Grandmother-F-bombs part of their every 30 second lexicon… got next to nada. Much like psychos who have to move on to murdering fellow humans when cats lose their luster, these obscenity slingers had to start getting creative. So, is that what it’s meant to be? Is profanity like a lingerie arsenal you keep around for rare occasions you want to convince hubby a new dining set is necessary? Avoid it when possible – but break it out in desperate times to alleviate fear based emotions?

And is part of it also that we just like the feeling that we’re getting away with something we shouldn’t? According to the author of “Holy Sh*t” (who looks like she’s having an allergic reaction herself when she even talks about cursing), it indeed seems that taboos have a lot to do with it.

It’s funny because people are mostly unwilling to admit that they might have a little bit of an adrenaline junkie residing within them. Really, we all have an inner excitement fiend. I suppose it’s just that the different tolerance levels are what make one the “occasional user” versus “junkie” when it comes to that need for a rush. If your inner addict needs it all the time, maybe you skydive or go canyoneering alone. If your inner addict has self control, maybe it’s enough to blast gangster rap in the car while going 90 on the way to Sunday mass.

Or maybe you do both, and swear with equal glee all the way to the ground and god’s house alike.


Whatever the chemistry, we know we can count our curses as being among our blessings.