Swearing – a psychological tool

“Offensive language (spoken by medical staff and by patients and their families) is often heard in the general hospital.”

But, despite its apparent prevalence, its manifestations and clinical implications have have largely escaped formal examination – until now.
Dr. Daniel J. Zimmerman and Professor Theodore A. Stern have between them co-authored what is believed to be the first academic study with the objective of facilitating an understanding of the effects and treatment of offensive utterances and their downstream consequences in a hospital setting.
Observation of profane language episodes – emanating from both patients and staff – revealed the positive and beneficial effects of swearing. Showing not only that : “Swearing may provide a channel of catharsis for aggressive drives and affects that have been building in either the doctor or the patient.” But furthermore : ”Swearing can also be used as a psychological tool in the service of helping.”

The paper: ‘Offensive Language in the General Hospital’ is published in the journal Psychosomatics 51:377-385, September-October 2010