Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it
Daily Brain Freeze – In a new study psychologists have found that F-bombs may serve an important role in pain relief. The NeuroReport, measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed under freezing cold water. While swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported decreased pain and on average lasted about 40 seconds longer in the water.
How this effect is unknown, but the researchers speculate that brain circuitry linked to emotion could be involved. For instance when the amygdala neurons are triggered the heart rate increases and the fight or flight response is activated which removes the element of pain. Certainly the test subjects heart rate increased when they begun to swear.
See Steven Pinker of Harvard University, for a thought provoking analysis
Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts compares swearing to using the horn in your car, it can be used to enhance almost anything.
There does seem to be a catch though and that is, if you swear too much the words lose their strength, so use them sparingly if you want to keep them emotionally meaningful and powerful.