I curse all the fucking time. I am glad I do: Scientist Emma Byrne’s sparkling debut Swearing is Good For You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language (W.W. Norton, $25.95) holds a surprising suggestion for healthy living: Start cursing more and you might just decrease stress, reduce pain, and increase cooperation.
In her book, an irreverent and impeccably researched defense of our dirtiest words, Byrne examines the latest research to show how swearing can be good for you. With humor and colorful language, she explores every angle of swearing—why we do it, how we do it, and what it tells us about ourselves. Byrne reveals how swearing has been around since the earliest humans began to communicate, and has been shown to reduce physical pain, lower anxiety, prevent physical violence, help trauma victims recover language, and promote human cooperation.
Taking readers on a whirlwind tour through scientific experiments, historical case studies, and cutting-edge research on language in both humans and other primates, Byrne defends cursing and demonstrates how much it can reveal about different cultures, their taboos and their values. Packed with the results of unlikely and often hilarious scientific studies—from the “ice bucket test” for coping with pain, to the connection between Tourette’s and swearing, to a chimpanzee who curses at her handler in sign language—Swearing is Good for You presents a lighthearted but convincing case for the foulmouthed.