Why is swearing such an in built part of the mind?

Why is swearing such an in built part of the mind?

My wife suffered from a Traumatic Head Injury several months ago. She had 2 Brain surgeries due to bleeding of the brain. As a result, she is unable to speak words other than yes, no, don't know and there. She has to learn through Speech and Language Therapy how to say each word. However, right from the start, she's been able to easily say sentences such as "For fucks sake Scott" and "Fuck off". Is there something about swearing that is built in?

The mind is a large landscape as you are finding. Speech centers where new or current ideas are formed into words rely on other areas where conversion elements have already been worked out some time ago. Ready made phrases for non-new ideas and reliable conversation can be brought up with little or no effort. With these peppered into speech one can sound as if they are otherwise fully conscious and thinking about what they are saying.

You can see this when speaking with people when they cannot stop adding the same phrase to their sentences. Such as "… if you know what I mean." Though a complex phrase it has its own quick 'subroutine' to send it to the mouth. After hearing this over and over you would guess that the speaker is not as self aware as you first suspected. This can reflect the effort made as they cast about for ideas and how to express them.

The foul language which would be rare in earlier days probably reflects her frustration and anger with her difficulties in forming speech. Normally there are filters to prevent using bad language if only to spare feelings of listeners. These can also be compromised when the effort is to get any speech together. You can think of her speech as letting you in on parts of her internal, normally private, dialogue as she struggles to express herself.

With patience this should improve as she re-maps her speech abilities along with the boundaries of what to say and not say.

I suggest you read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks to see how disparate the areas of the mind can be. Good luck to you both.


According to Simon, ΐ] successful psychological manipulation primarily involves:

  1. manipulator concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors
  2. manipulator knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine what tactics are likely to be the most effective.
  3. manipulator having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim if necessary.

Consequently the manipulation is likely to be covert (relational aggressive or passive aggressive).

Why the #$%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief

Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain.

The study, published today in the journal NeuroReport, measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer.

Although cursing is notoriously decried in the public debate, researchers are now beginning to question the idea that the phenomenon is all bad. "Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it," says psychologist Richard Stephens of Keele University in England, who led the study. And indeed, the findings point to one possible benefit: "I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear," he adds.

How swearing achieves its physical effects is unclear, but the researchers speculate that brain circuitry linked to emotion is involved. Earlier studies have shown that unlike normal language, which relies on the outer few millimeters in the left hemisphere of the brain, expletives hinge on evolutionarily ancient structures buried deep inside the right half.

One such structure is the amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger a fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain. Indeed, the students' heart rates rose when they swore, a fact the researchers say suggests that the amygdala was activated.

That explanation is backed by other experts in the field. Psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard University, whose book The Stuff of Thought (Viking Adult, 2007) includes a detailed analysis of swearing, compared the situation with what happens in the brain of a cat that somebody accidentally sits on. "I suspect that swearing taps into a defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle and intimidate an attacker," he says.

But cursing is more than just aggression, explains Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts who has studied our use of profanities for the past 35 years. "It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness," he remarks. "It's like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it's built into you."

In extreme cases, the hotline to the brain's emotional system can make swearing harmful, as when road rage escalates into physical violence. But when the hammer slips, some well-chosen swearwords might help dull the pain.

There is a catch, though: The more we swear, the less emotionally potent the words become, Stephens cautions. And without emotion, all that is left of a swearword is the word itself, unlikely to soothe anyone's pain.

Is Swearing a Sign of a Limited Vocabulary?

When words fail us, we curse. At least this is what the &ldquopoverty-of-vocabulary&rdquo (POV) hypothesis would have us believe. On this account, swearing is the &ldquosign of a weak vocabulary&rdquo, a result of a lack of education, laziness or impulsiveness. In line with this idea, we tend to judge vulgarians quite harshly, rating them as lower on socio-intellectual status, less effective at their jobs and less friendly.

But this view of the crass does not square with recent research in linguistics. For example, the POV hypothesis would predict that when people struggle to come up with the right words, they are more likely to spew swears left and right. But research shows that people tend to fill the awkward gaps in their language with &ldquoers&rdquo and &ldquoums&rdquo not &ldquosh*ts&rdquo and &ldquogodd*mnits.&rdquo This research has led to a competing explanation for swearing: fluency with taboo words might be a sign of general verbal fluency. Those who are exceptionally vulgar might also be exceptionally eloquent and intelligent. Indeed, taboo words hold a particular purpose in our lexicon that other words cannot as effectively accomplish: to deliver intense, succinct and directed emotional expression. So, those who swear frequently might just be more sophisticated in the linguistic resources they can draw from in order to make their point.

New research by cognitive scientists at Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts attempts to test this possibility, and further debunk the POV hypothesis, by measuring how taboo word fluency relates to general verbal fluency. The POV hypothesis suggests that there should be a negative correlation: the more you swear, the lower your verbal prowess. But the researchers hypothesized just the opposite: the more you swear the more comprehensive your vocabulary would be.

Across three studies, they gave participants a well-known measure of verbal fluency called the Controlled Word Association Test (COWAT). The COWAT asks participants to say as many words as they can that start with a given letter (e.g. F, A or S) during a specified time window. The amount of words that they generate is summed into a fluency score. Then, in what has to be one of the most awkward and hilarious experimental situations in the history of cognitive science, participants had to say, out loud to the experimenter, as many swear words as they could think of in one minute. This was the measure of taboo word fluency.

Results from Study 1 showed that participants generated 400 unique taboo words (see the Results for some of the more colorful entries) and, as the researchers predicted, fluency in generating these words correlated positively with performance on the COWAT. This finding was replicated in Studies 2 and 3, using a written version of the tests as well. The more taboo words participants could generate, the more verbally fluent they were in general.

This finding can serve as a nice empirical middle-finger from vulgarians everywhere, directed at those who had, until now, been unfairly judging them for their linguistic abilities. Swearing, it seems, can be creative, smart, and even downright lyrical. This should also open our eyes to the unique subfield of research that spends its time deconstructing the many and varied ways in which, and reasons why, we swear. For example, did you know that some linguists and philosophers of language draw meaningful distinctions between taboo words that express heightened emotional states (e.g., f*ck), general pejoratives (e.g., f*cker) whose meaning is connotative but person-directed, and slurs (e.g., sl*t), which have both expressive and derogatory descriptive elements? I did not know this.

That said, these results need to be taken with a grain of salt. Knowledge of taboo words and the regular use of those words are two very different things. I might very well have an encyclopedic knowledge of vulgarity, but I might also have the tact necessary to regulate my language in social situations. In other words, just because verbally fluent people have the ability to cuss with the best of them, does not mean that they will do so. This presents a bit of a problem with the current research since the authors do seem to want to make the claim that their results inform what kinds of people actually curse in the real world. This conclusion cannot be drawn from these data. The studies tell us nothing about how speakers use taboo words, just what they would be capable of saying if they chose to use them. Swearing regularly and being able to generate a long list of curse words when prompted are very different. Indeed, the POV hypothesis could still survive this criticism. It still might be true that those with greater verbal fluency, even though they also have greater taboo fluency, swear less because they have the lexical database required to actually express themselves in other ways.

In 1977 Norman Mailer confronted Gore Vidal at a party after Vidal poorly reviewed one of Mailer&rsquos books. Mailer&rsquos anger boiled over and he sent Vidal to the ground with a punch. From the floor, Gore Vidal looked up and famously quipped: &ldquoOnce again, words have failed Norman Mailer.&rdquo No doubt, Vidal could have unleashed a string of profanities at his aggressor. He surely had a mastery of taboo language comparable to his mastery of language in general. But his verbal fluency allowed him to craft an even wittier response. And had words not failed Mailer, perhaps he too would have reacted less crassly.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas.


Piercarlo Valdesolo is Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, and co-author of the book Out of Character.

Is 13 really that unlucky?

The number 13 has been known for centuries to be “unlucky” but why? How can a number be attached to so much superstition and meaning. Several buildings either don’t have a 13 th floor or 13 th room. Some people even go the distance of not traveling on the 13 th day or hosting important events on this day because of the fear that something will go wrong. There are several reasons why people believe that 13 is unlucky, stemming from religion to science. Those who are very religious may associate 13 to the 13 th individual who came to the last supper. Judas was the 13 th person and the person who went against Jesus. The number 12 has much significance in our everyday life. There are 12 months in a year, the hours in a day are easily divisible by 12, 12 inches in a foot, 12 days of Christmas, the list goes on and on. The number 13 is the imperfect number that falls behind the “perfect” number. Most people who believe this superstition grew up around other people who believe it. By hearing the message and association between bad luck and 13 peoples superstition develop even farther. The beliefs are cemented by occasional events that take place on the 13 th day that are less than fortunate. Individuals who experience the most traumatic experiences or bad luck might even develop Triskaidekaphobia which is the fear of the number 13. Like many other phobias this in turn can lead to anxiety and other psychological effects. Depending on why someone believes 13 is bad luck, this superstition could date all the way back to the 1890s.

There are certain events that occurred that may contribute to the belief in this superstition. For example, the Apollo 13 was a space mission that was supposed to land on the moon. On April 13, 1970 there was an explosion that halted the mission and they had to return back to Earth. There may have been people following this mission with a preconceived idea that this mission was going to fail simply because of the mission number. A more specific unfortunate event that occurred was in England. There was a 13 th year old teenager who was struck by lighting on Friday the 13 th . He was said to been struck at 13:13. Fortunately, he was able to make a full recovery. Things like these happen and people feel no reason to believe that the number 13 is not bad luck. So they avoid it at all cost and become afraid of it. However, 13 is just a number and these events most likely would have happened regardless. It was just a coincidence.

An obvious cognitive contribution to this belief system are patterns. In our brain, it’s a lot easier to assign things to each other when we see patterns or sequences that frequently occur. We, as humans, evolved through symbols and its in our nature to use those associations in our everyday life. It strengthens when we connect with other people who believe and see the same patterns. They aren’t necessarily misinformed but are forming connections in places that weren’t meant to be.

The most notable influencer to the 13 th belief is the media. The media uses those outlets to their advantage. For example, the Friday the 13 th movie series with the killer main character, Jason. They have made over 10 movies and millions of dollars off of a fear that they took to the next level. Even though people may believe this superstition on their own there are groups of people that also believe that have a bigger impact on society. Some hotels, airports, and hospitals don’t have 13 th floors. For a hospital to not have a 13 th floor someone of higher power must also believe that 13 comes with bad luck which would make my belief even stronger.

The belief that the number 13 is bad luck or an unlucky number is essentially a superstition. Superstitions thrive on confirmation bias. Once you have a belief and your mind is set on this idea its hard to change your mind. Its even harder because subconsciously we look for evidence and memories that support them rather than those that refute them. Days that bad things happen on will just be unfortunate times but if something was to happen on the 13 th day its because of the number 13. People with strong believes would most likely say that if it wasn’t for the association with 13 the bad thing wouldn’t of happened at all.

‘Unlucky’ 13–It’s All a Matter of Psychology

What’s so unlucky about the number 13?

Why Do People Think the Number 13 Is Unlucky? Let’s Talk About Triskaidekaphobia

Triangulation (psychology)

Triangulation is a manipulation tactic where one person will not communicate directly with another person, instead using a third person to relay communication to the second, thus forming a triangle. It also refers to a form of splitting in which one person manipulates a relationship between two parties by controlling communication between them.

Triangulation may manifest itself as a manipulative device to engineer rivalry between two people, known as divide and conquer [1] or playing one (person) against another. [2]

In the field of psychology, triangulations are necessary steps in the child's development when a two-party relationship is opened up by a third party into a new form of relationship. So the child gains new mental abilities. The concept was introduced in 1971, by the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Ernst L. Abelin, especially as 'early triangulation', to describe the transitions in psychoanalytic object relations theory and parent-child relationship in the age of 18 months. In this presentation, the mother is the early caregiver with a nearly "symbiotic" relationship to the child, and the father lures the child away to the outside world, resulting in the father being the third party. [3] Abelin later developed an 'organizer- and triangulation-model', [4] in which he based the whole human mental and psychic development on several steps of triangulation.

Some earlier related work, published in a 1951 paper, had been done by the German psychoanalyst Hans Loewald in the area of pre-Oedipal behavior and dynamics. [5] In a 1978 paper, the child psychoanalyst Dr. Selma Kramer wrote that Loewald postulated the role of the father as a positive supporting force for the pre-Oedipal child against the threat of reengulfment by the mother which leads to an early identification with the father, preceding that of the classical Oedipus complex. [6] This was also related to the work in Separation-Individuation theory of child development by the psychoanalyst Margaret Mahler. [6] [7] [8]

In the context of narcissism, triangulation occurs when the narcissist attempts to control the flow, interpretation, and nuances of communication between two separate actors or groups of actors. Ensuring communications flow through, and constantly relate back to the narcissist provides a feeling of importance. Common scenarios include a parent attempting to control communication between two children, or an emotionally abusive partner attempting to control communication between the other partner and the other partner's friends and family. A narcissistic person wants to ensure the other actors communicate through them but remain otherwise isolated. In some cases narcissists will use control of communication to drive a wedge between the other parties. This can be done by falsely making one of the actors or groups of actors into a scapegoat for problems that the narcissist is actually responsible for or that are otherwise unrelated. In addition the narcissist may falsely credit the other actor with saying or thinking something hurtful, or may put too much emphasis on an aspect of something that was said to them that ignores the wider context. [9]

Alternatively, the narcissist may attempt to use triangulation to put a third actor between them and someone with whom they are commonly in conflict. Rather than communicating directly with the actor with whom they are in conflict, the narcissist will send communication supporting his or her case through a third actor in an attempt to make the communication more credible. [10]

In family therapy, the term triangulation is most closely associated with the work of Murray Bowen. Bowen theorized that a two-person emotional system is unstable, in that under stress it forms itself into a three-person system or triangle. [11]

In the family triangulation system the third person can either be used as a substitute for the direct communication, or can be used as a messenger to carry the communication to the main party. Usually, this communication is an expressed dissatisfaction with the main party. For example, in a dysfunctional family in which there is alcoholism present, the non-drinking parent will go to a child and express dissatisfaction with the drinking parent. This includes the child in the discussion of how to solve the problem of the alcoholic parent. Sometimes the child can engage in the relationship with the parent, filling the role of the third party, and thereby being "triangulated" into the relationship. Alternatively, the child may then go to the alcoholic parent, relaying what they were told. In instances when this occurs, the child may be forced into a role of a "surrogate spouse" The reason that this occurs is that both parties are dysfunctional. Rather than communicating directly with each other, they utilize a third party. Sometimes this is because it is unsafe to go directly to the person and discuss the concerns, particularly if they are alcoholic and/or abusive.

In a triangular family relationship, the two who have aligned risk forming an enmeshed relationship. [12]

The Perverse Triangle Edit

The Perverse Triangle was first described in 1977 by Jay Haley [13] as a triangle where two people who are on different hierarchical or generational levels form a coalition against a third person (e.g., "a covert alliance between a parent and a child, who band together to undermine the other parent's power and authority". [14] ) The perverse triangle concept has been widely discussed in professional literature. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] Bowen called it the pathological triangle, [20] while Minuchin called it the rigid triangle. [22]

Cross-generational coalition Edit

For example, a parent and child can align against the other parent but not admit to it, to form a cross-generational coalition. [23] These are harmful to children. [15] [19] [24]

Maslow, Rogers, and Humanism

Humanism is a perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans. Two of the most well-known proponents of humanistic psychology are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers (O’Hara, n.d.). Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) was an American psychologist who is best known for proposing a hierarchy of human needs in motivating behavior. Although this concept will be discussed in more detail in a later section, a brief overview will be provided here.

Figure 3. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs emphasizes that basic needs for food and safety need to be met before higher level needs can serve as motivators.

Maslow asserted that so long as basic needs necessary for survival were met (e.g., food, water, shelter), higher-level needs (e.g., social needs) would begin to motivate behavior. According to Maslow, the highest-level needs relate to self-actualization, a process by which we achieve our full potential. Obviously, the focus on the positive aspects of human nature that are characteristic of the humanistic perspective is evident (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Humanistic psychologists rejected, on principle, the research approach based on reductionist experimentation in the tradition of the physical and biological sciences, because it missed the “whole” human being. Beginning with Maslow and Rogers, there was an insistence on a humanistic research program. This program has been largely qualitative (not measurement-based), but there exist a number of quantitative research strains within humanistic psychology, including research on happiness, self-concept, meditation, and the outcomes of humanistic psychotherapy (Friedman, 2008).

Carl Rogers (1902–1987) was also an American psychologist who, like Maslow, emphasized the potential for good that exists within all people. Rogers used a therapeutic technique known as client-centered therapy in helping his clients deal with problematic issues that resulted in their seeking psychotherapy. Unlike a psychoanalytic approach in which the therapist plays an important role in interpreting what conscious behavior reveals about the unconscious mind, client-centered therapy involves the patient taking a lead role in the therapy session. Rogers believed that a therapist needed to display three features to maximize the effectiveness of this particular approach: unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathy. Unconditional positive regard refers to the fact that the therapist accepts their client for who they are, no matter what he or she might say. Provided these factors, Rogers believed that people were more than capable of dealing with and working through their own issues (Thorne & Henley, 2005).

Why Is Love Important? 11 Surprising Reasons Why

I decided to do a little survey among my guy friends and some random men in general, to finally reveal the mystery of beautifully big behinds and why they are so madly attracted to them.

And all I can say is that the reasons why guys love girls with large buns are perfectly understandable and more than ordinary!

Also, I must admit that there were some bootylicious things that I would never have guessed guys liked, but on the other hand, I don’t get a lot of things guys like and when you think about it, it’s supposed to be that way.

If you aim to please and want your man completely satisfied, then learning The Language Of Desire is the best thing you can do.

Sigmund Freud Theory and defensive Mechanisms

The Freudian theory describes that the role of the ego is to find balance between the demanding id and the super ego. Healthy individuals are capable of doing so, but there are cases where disruptions have occurred in the various psychological developmental stages and the development of the libido. This might result in personality problems. Although this could have far-reaching consequences, there are various mechanisms that could either function as protective factors or be negative consequences of disrupted development. Examples of these are:


When a person got into a discussion at work and comes home feeling frustrated, it’s possible this frustration is taken out on this person’s partner.


In a weighty argument, an individual may experience he’s about to lose the argument, making him look stupid. A possible reaction is that this person calls the other stupid, while he’s the one who’s losing the argument.


An aggressive person knows, whether subconsciously or consciously, that hitting people for no reason isn’t a good idea. Exercising could be a means to convert these emotions into something constructive.


Treatment of ODD focuses on both the child and on the parents. The goals of treatment include helping the child to feel protected and safe and to teach him or her appropriate behavior. Parents may need to learn how to set appropriate limits with a child and how to deal with a child who acts out. They may also need to learn how to teach and reinforce desired behavior.

Parents may also need help with problems that may be distancing them from the child. Such problems can include alcoholism or drug dependency, depression, or financial difficulties. In some cases, legal or economic assistance may be necessary. For example, a single mother may need legal help to obtain child support from the child's father so that she won't need to work two jobs, and can stay at home in the evenings with the child.

Behavioral therapy is usually effective in treating ODD. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific behaviors, not on analyzing the history of the behaviors or the very early years of the child's life. The theory behind behavioral therapy is that a person can learn a different set of behaviors to replace those that are causing problems. As the person obtains better results from the new behavior, he or she will want to continue that behavior instead of reverting to the old one. To give an example, the child's parents may be asked to identify behaviors that usually start an argument. They are then shown ways to stop or change those behaviors in order to prevent arguments.

Contingency management techniques may be included in behavioral therapy. The child and the parents may be helped to draw up contracts that identify unwanted behaviors and spell out consequences. For example, the child may lose a privilege or part of his or her allowance every time he or she throws a temper tantrum. These contracts can include steps or stages&mdashfor example, lowering the punishment if the child begins an argument but manages to stop arguing within a set period of time. The same contract may also specify rewards for desired behavior. For example, if the child has gone for a full week without acting out, he or she may get to choose which movie the family sees that weekend. These contracts may be shared with the child's teachers.

The parents are encouraged to acknowledge good or nonproblematic behavior as much as possible. Attention or praise from the parent when the child is behaving well can reinforce his or her sense that the parent is aware of the child even when he or she is not acting out.

Cognitive therapy may be helpful for older children, adolescents, and parents. In cognitive therapy, the person is guided to greater awareness of problematic thoughts and feelings in certain situations. The therapist can then suggest a way of thinking about the problem that would lead to behaviors that are more likely to bring the person what they want or need. For example, a girl may be helped to see that much of her anger derives from feeling that no one cares about her, but that her angry behavior is the source of her problem because it pushes people away.

Although psychotherapy is the cornerstone of treatment for ODD, medicine may also be helpful in some cases. Children who have concurrent ADHD may need medical treatment to control their impulsivity and extend their attention span. Children who are anxious or depressed may also be helped by appropriate medications.

Watch the video: South Park Funny Voice Recording Compilation (January 2022).