The Sweet Seduction of Swearing

Featured Image from Wikipedia and edited by Me

Fuck.

That probably bothers you. Why though? It’s a combination of four letters, so tell me why do four measly letters cause you so much grief.

Is it because that particle word is a ‘swear word’?

Swearing is a defined by Google as ‘the use of offensive language’. But that is a pretty broad definition considering the term ‘offensive language’ is in a constant state of flux between different people.

Ever since we were kids, we were told we couldn’t say certain words because they were these so called ‘swear words’, and we just accepted it (at least until we became rebellious teenagers kids).

The Psychology of Cursing

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Image from Jonathan Rolande on Flickr

Why do we curse? To put it simply, it is a release of human emotion. We curse in order to release ourselves of bottled up sentiment or pain.

Cursing activates the amygdala, which is a portion of the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is responsible for processing emotion and memory. The amygdala is associated with negative emotional situations. Activating the amygdala can cause panic attacks and aggression, while damaging it can cause eerie tranquility or even fearlessness as in accordance with Harvard Science Review.

Now I know that sounds bad, but for the most part swear words are used in a more positive manner for things like jokes, storytelling, or social integration. When you want to show how great you feel something is, a curse words emphasizes the positive feelings you have for that object, situation, person, or event.

Saying, “This is fucking awesome!” is way more dramatic and attention-grabbing than, “This is awesome,” as the inclusion of the swear word emphasizes the emotional reaction we have towards the subject and conveys that emotional reaction to those around us.

Stress Relief

As Tumblr blogger thisismedisapearing put it:

I stubbed my toe and naturally I screamed “MOTHERFUCKER”

We swear to relieve stress. Hell, there is even a study where people’s pain tolerance went up when they were allowed to say “shit” versus only being able to say “shoot;” read more about the study here.

The fact of the matter is that when you swear you are going against societal norms and breaking a ‘taboo,’ this obviously may make you feel nervous or excited, which is why depending on the person, you may have varying degrees of enjoyment with cursing.

The simple act of rebellion that swearing is (granted you aren’t a nervous nellie) is enough to make you feel in control. Thus leaving you in a mild form of ecstasy and freedom, because let’s be real, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of control in our chaotic world?

This is why studies have shown that people in stressful or painful situation tend to swear more often than the average person. This is also why the misconception that uneducated people are the ones commonly cursing is so absurd. LITERALLY EVERYONE SWEARS! See this article from the Association of Psychological Science if you’re feeling skeptical, but whether or not a person swears frequently depends on the person themselves.

It’s an Insane Concept

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Image by Hey Paul Studios on Flickr

Shit=Poop, Damn=Condemn, Fuck=Procreate, Ass=Butt, Bitch=Female Dog, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I find no issue saying these words as they aren’t singling out or insulting an oppressed group like some slang words, and sometimes they’re just fun to say.

Society has accepted that these words are ‘bad’ but why are they bad and why on Earth do we just straight up accept that. It really makes no sense. The only arguably ‘bad’ thing about these words is that they were often used with God’s name in vain, (which is a no-no is Christian beliefs) but that’s an entirely different type of swearing that is commonly used today.

You see we don’t think ‘damn’ is a swear word when talking about beavers and some people don’t consider ‘damn’ a swear word at all, but saying “goddamnit” is always considered swearing. This makes sense to me as it’s affiliated with religious values, but saying ‘bitch’ which means something that creates adorable puppies, does not make any sense at all to me. It’s just a word.

The idea of not believing in swear words and just swearing all the time sounds great until someone brings up the argument that, “if you don’t believe in swear words, why do you use them?” Well, do I have the argument for you; just refer those haters to the section on Stress Relief because if it’s helping you and not harming anyone else then nobody should be able to stop you.

A Common Dialect

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Image from 2il org on Flickr

Everything I discussed earlier has lead swearing to become an integral part of our language. Think about sailors who are known for their potty mouths, but when you think about their job, you realize it is pretty damn stressful thus they swear a shit-ton.

Statistics say that everyone swears or at least has cursed, so hopefully now you feel a bit more comfortable cursing because most children by the age of 11 know at least ten of them, and to be honest, there isn’t anything wrong with that; see The Science of Swearing for more on the topic.

Certain words being considered ‘swear words’ is an ancient concept that we have clung to for no apparent reason. Everyone understands swearing, and it’s a great way to connect with others, not to mention it’s healthy!

My point is that there is nothing wrong with swearing and swearing is a great way to connect with others as its a universal dialect between cultures, so if your heart so pleases, curse on.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Sweet Seduction of Swearing

  1. This is a really interesting article… I understand where you draw the line between swearing in God’s name or without. Great work.

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