The Art and Science of Cussing, Cursing Part 2Posted by Jim Newman on March 8th, 2013 – 1 Comment – Posted in sex ed, Uncategorized
I use the word bitch to define a kind of character that everyone gets; if I don’t say it came from a female dog’s unusual behavior everyone still gets what a bitch is–we might call Hillary Clinton a bitch but certainly not Michelle Obama, though if I did I would be trying to convey that I saw that behavior in her.
When I called Richard Nixon, a dick or a prick, it was because of his negative, bombastic, top-male, inconsiderate behavior. He wasn’t a bitch or an asshole, well he was an asshole too. When I called Clarence Thomas a shit head it was because he was so full of himself that it ran out his ears and poured out on the ground in a great heap of brown ooze–he was truly disgusting, slimy and got away with it. When I call Mother (a misnomer if there ever was one) Teresa a bitch it’s because she was more than the church’s Rottweiler, she was well you know, and that she fooled millions into thinking she was a sweet, compassionate, little old lady that just wanted to help the poor is a lie as deep as the pedophilia the church hid for decades if not centuries.
Psychologists have shown that cussing is a tremendous pain reliever. When you cut yourself, cussing helps. Try it. Get an ice bucket and stick your hand in it until you can’t. being quiet. Warm your hand and do it again. This time cuss and stomp and express your pain. You will last longer and it will hurt less for most people.
“Cursing definitely helps alleviate pain,” concluded Richard Stevens at Keele University, adding swearing makes injured people feel better. His research shows people perceive less pain while cursing.
Unsavoury language, particularly certain four-letter words, not only increase pain tolerance but also ease emotional stresses.
As a young roofing apprentice one of the things that bugged me the most was the hypocrisy of cussing men. The husband would come out and talk a constant string of crap–I even blanched. When a woman came out, usually the wife, all conversation was free of any cursing. Was this respect? No. It bothered the crap out of me. As the young son of a mother without a dad I heard a lot of female-only conversation. Same thing different words and ideas. Even now I see husbands and wives hide their bad habbits, bad language and feelings from each other. Drives me fuckin crazy. Why do we have to be so intolerant that we are forced to lead secret lives?
Let’s break for George Carlin and his take on it.
Cussing also diverts more negative behavior.
According to researcher Peter Marler, when an individual is confronted with a conflict situation, in which physical attack or backing-off politely are possible alternatives, “displacement” behaviour often occurs. As an example, consider a heated conversation between two individuals; when anger is generated by displeasure, one of the two, instead of striking the other, instead slams a hand down on a nearby table. Anger is vented, not against a human, but against another object. The likelihood of overt striking of blows is thereby lowered.
So it is with profane language, researchers suggest. Emotionally powerful words or emotionally harmful expressions mitigate and alleviate the urge to strike people who are deemed to be behaviourally offensive. In that way, physical force and possible injury are averted. Anthropologists postulate that the uttering of obscenities under “fight-or-flight” circumstances avoids physical confrontation; emotionally satisfying language eases the urge to physically punish intrusive offensive conduct. This mitigating influences has survival value in human societies, researchers suggest.
Some even consider cussing within the context of therapy because it encourages authenticity over etiquette which is disguise. Hiding the truth may have value in negative relations and courtly intrigue but is of no help in therapy.
But they do have some value. Many find a well-chosen profanity deeply satisfying. In the right setting, nothing drives a point home quite like swearing. Sometimes there just aren’t non-offensive words that convey the same message. And according to at least one study, swearing can be good for your health. If it provides benefits, is there a place for swearing in therapy?
…Yes, you can swear in therapy. At least you can with me and the therapists I know. Of course, if your cursing actually gets in the way of direct communication we’ll probably raise that concern (to help you swear more efficiently, perhaps?). Otherwise, therapists really shouldn’t prohibit moderate profanity. Those who do may be limiting the expression of whatDonald Winnicott would call our “true self,” which would be a problem.
Conservatives are said to reach more deeply into the centers of disgust in the brain. I have also contended that liberals feel disgust too, perhaps not as much, but usually over different aspects. A pubcon gets disgusted over people defying authority and a liberal gets disgusted (frets?) at lack of fairness. As a philosopher I should get disgusted the least at various things which I do. In this sense my cussing is a sign of outrage, a communication. When I exclaim “why do these bastards take this damned bible so literally,” I am exasperated that the bible has so much unworthy power that I would curse it to the hell it invokes. It also states that in this case the readers are not using their literalness in a nice way. Here bastard hasn’t a damned thing to do with illegitimate children, it’s just a generalized asshole.
There are just no other words for it.
Jim Newman, bright and well