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Running Singing Strand Bird On The Shore

I could sit for hours listening to the “bubbling” of the strand-bird; but that’s because I am melancholy. If I weren’t melancholy I’d hardly like it, I think. The tide’s at ebb and the rock-pools are full of water. Beyond is space—the yellow of the sand and the grey of the sky—and the pipe-note “bubbling” between. A strange, yearning sound, like nothing one hears in towns; bringing one into touch with the Infinite, and deep with the melancholy -- the song and my own.

It is not that the day be worse than any other. Heads on necks have their own beats and rhythms which have nothing to do with the day, the year or the hour. Will I ever forgive being who I am? It is my one and lonely success. The truth is, we don't like the Truth. Truth has very few friends, and those are suicides. Bubbling notes and sigh-to-silence the wave reached up on the shore. The pipe-note yearns as it runs along the vanishing foam edge. Then back it runs, having forgotten its watch. Or wallet. One or-error-the-other. 

Strange how the bubbling juxtaposes the darkening gray infinity rushing out past the strand bird, past where it runs to toss, now tossing my attention against the absent. Not even abandon is out there. 

There is just -- nothing out there. That nothing pulls when looked at too long. The bubbling pipe becomes a keen, then a wail. But if you do not raise your eyes you will think that you are the highest point. That this is all. No allfather. Just Blakes's nobodaddy. Just you and nobodaddy and nothing. Then the wave sighs away, and the strand bird runs and pulls you away. 

I hope I'll be a memory. 

Yes, I will try to be.  Because I believe that not being is arrogant. 




When It Feels Right: Emotional Connection

Most of the time I'm exploring the topic of Emotional Connection, it is for writing fiction, and making that connection with the reader -- a connection which will allow the reader to slip into immersion with the story -- what those in Psychology call Narrative Transportation. 

I'm caught in both worlds today. I've just completed my novel and in the editing phase, but this novel is being published under my name, not a clients/ghostwritten. 

To experience narrative transportation, the audience should experience empathy with the characters. Social psychologists Geoff Kaufman and Lisa Libby argue that when audiences take the perspectives and experiences of the characters in the story they “lose themselves and assume the identity of the character, adopting the character’s thoughts, emotions, goals, traits, and actions and experiencing the narrative as though they were that character.” 

As postulated by Green and Brock (2002), imagery indeed seems to play an important role in transportation. Using a more fine-grained measure of perceived imagery ability than in previous research (Green et al., 2008), the present study demonstrated that transportation into a narrative and identification with its protagonist vary across different media depending on recipients’ perceived ability to generate vivid mental imagery. 

“Transportation effects work through reducing counterarguing, creating connections (identification and liking) with characters and increasing perceptions of realism and emotional involvement,” say Green and Clark.

Green and Clark provide three ways narrative transportation works to change beliefs:
  • People perceive less intent to persuade.
  • People identify with and like the characters and then adopt the beliefs of those characters.
  • People may remember the events in a story as their own.(In an Aside, below, there is a link to an article on this phenomena of False Memories)


All that means to me is I can go further with the story, and keep my reader with me. 



Now let's switch gears and look at what the minds of Copywriting have to say on this subject. They don't call it Narrative Transportation, they call it Emotional Connection/Branding. 

The Ten Commandments of Emotional Connection:

i. From Consumers → to People
Emotional branding allows companies to create a relationship with its consumers that is based on mutual respect. This approach would help potential consumers to have a positive attitude towards the product, creating an attraction between the brand and the items being sold without being forced to purchase.

ii. From Product → to Experience
Emotional branding creates an emotional memory between the buyer and the product as a form of connection that goes beyond need. Need is based on price and convenience, buying the product experience has an added value to it which money won’t be able to buy.

iii. From Honesty → to Trust
Emotional branding builds trust. It is one of the fundamental values of a brand which requires genuine effort from the company. This brings total comfort to customers and it gives advantage to the company because the buyers will put their brand as one of their top choices.

iv. From Quality → to Preference
Emotional Branding helps a brand become a consumer’s preference. The quality is an essential factor to stay in business, however achieving preferential status by consumers mean that the product made a real connection with its users.

v. From Notoriety → to Aspiration
Emotional Branding shapes a business to be an aspiration instead of simply being known. Brand awareness creates familiarity with its users but to be attain success, the brand must be able to inspire the user to be desired.

vi. From Identity → to Personality
Emotional Branding teaches a company to build its personality to create a lasting impact on users. Brand personalities form charismatic attitude that would trigger positive emotional response towards the brand.

vii. From Function → to Feel
Emotional Branding makes experience as an important factor in creating brand identity. The product may perform according to its practical function, but emotional branding enables the user to have a deeper emotional experience while using the product.

viii. From Ubiquity → to Presence
Similar with having an experience, emotional branding promotes brand presence as it also creates an impact on potential users, ensuring a permanent connection with people.

ix. From Communication → to Dialogue
Emotional branding encourages to have a conversation with its target audience. It means that there should be a dialogue from the company relayed to the target audience via personal message to share actual experiences with the product.

x. From Service → to Relationship
Emotional branding helps create a special relationship between the brand and its loyal users. Creating a relationship with the consumers is perhaps the most important aspect of emotional branding because the company intends to have a deep connection with its customers and it will create an important bond among its users.
~ As Listed by Marc Gobé

Emotional branding uses the consumer's ability to process messages to promote a significant feeling associated with the brand.The two types of processing that a person can use to comprehend branding are Active Processing, which is learning that happens when deep, attentive processing is being applied, or, Implicit processing, which is when meaning can be processed without awareness. Emotional branding is quite complex, in that a person can interpret a brand image through attentive processing, but once their emotions are provoked, the meaning that they take from the brand image can be implicitly processed, or in other words, subconsciously created.
An example of this could be music playing in a store to create a subconscious mood.

There are multiple techniques for achieving an emotional response to a brand. The first, and perhaps the most complicated method is by attaching the brand to a certain set of ideological values. This works best when the advertiser has done substantial amounts of research on the demographic audience, knowing what values and ideas will trigger an emotional response and connection to the brand. The values can be embedded into the brand through images and language. An example of this would be the family values and essence of childhood and bonding portrayed in Walt Disney World Ads.
Emotional branding uses a series of themes and symbols to create meaning for a consumer. In this sense, "theme" means a concept or story line that is present throughout an ad, and if integrated well-enough, throughout the brand. A "symbol" is representative of the theme. Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders suggests that the symbol represents a promise and consumers buy the promise. The text reads, "The cosmetic manufacturers are not selling Lanolin, they are selling hope. We no longer buy oranges, we buy vitality. We do not buy just an auto, we buy prestige."

As suggested in Edward Bernays' The Engineering of Consent, Themes must appeal to human motivations in order to be successful. Motivation lies deep with a person's subconscious desires to achieve or meet certain goals. Bernays suggests that there is an extensive list of factors that drive motivation based on both ideological values and personal experience.

There are a few techniques used with symbolism. The first is making the theme and symbol of a brand continuously publicized. The second technique is making sure that the theme and symbol hold substance and promote a specific idea about the company. The company symbol needs to be adaptable to a changing society while standing firmly as a set of values.

Symbols can represent multiple themes simultaneously, as suggested by Bernays. For example, a kitten can represent both playfulness and comfort. Symbols provide a promise for a sense of fulfillment associated with their brand. Vance Packard highlights the eight hidden needs that consumers have that themes and symbols attempt to sell. The eight needs are as follows:
    • Emotional security
    • Reassurance of worth
    • Ego-gratification
    • Creative outlets
    • Love objects
    • Sense of power
    • Sense of roots
    • Immortality
These needs, which are subconsciously emotion-based, serve as a foundation for emotional branding and allow marketers to create a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to consumer needs. People want to fulfill these needs, and advertisers promote the need to fulfill these needs in a perpetual cycle.

A second method of emotional branding is making a literal statement about a product and its association to emotion. An example of this can be seen in a 1966 Hamlet Cigar ad that states “Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet.”  This associates the brand with a particular emotion in the most literal way possible.

A third method of association to emotion is giving the consumer an emotional reaction to an ad, or in our case it would be a blurb. An example of this in advertising could be calming music playing simultaneously with images of people enjoying the product. This method works best when irrational emotions are evoked. For example, playing somber music with images of people struggling without the product would create an irrational connection to the product by playing on the consumer’s sadness. In one way, the brand creates a positive connotation with itself, in another, the brand creates a negative connotation of life without the product. 

It is important to note that emotional branding is something that comes with time and long standing presence. For example, attachment of the specific emotion of “nostalgia” to the Kodak brand of film, “bonding” to the Jim Beam bourbon brand, and “love” to the McDonald’s brand are built over time. Through repetition of these themes and symbols, these brand names have reached brand euphoria, where meaning no longer needs to be created, as enough branding has been done to solidify the brand image.


References

Green, M. C., & Clark, J. L. (2013). Transportation into narrative worlds: implications for entertainment media influences on tobacco use. Addiction, 108(3), 477–484

Kaufman, G. F., & Libby, L. K. (2012). Changing beliefs and behavior through experience-taking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 103(1), 1. Vezzali, L., Stathi, S., Giovannini, D., Capozza, D., & Trifiletti, E. (2015). The greatest magic of Harry Potter: Reducing prejudice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 45(2), 105–121.

Galinsky, A. D., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2000). Perspective-taking: decreasing stereotype expression, stereotype accessibility, and in-group favoritism. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(4), 708.

Johnson, D. R., Jasper, D. M., Griffin, S., & Huffman, B. L. (2013). Reading narrative fiction reduces Arab-Muslim prejudice and offers a safe haven from intergroup anxiety. Social Cognition, 31(5), 578–598.

Green, M. C. (2004). Transportation into narrative worlds: The role of prior knowledge and perceived realism. Discourse processes, 38(2), 247–266.


Further Reading







Me of the Sumerians; the Nam Shub of Enki


We never feel just one emotion. Emotions arise in blooms with cohorts. I mean, anger for example. We're never only angry. At first sight it might feel like we are, but another emotion colors the fury. We might also feel hurt, or betrayed, or belittled, or offended, or abused, lied to, or a pollen cloud of other emotions. We're angry for a reason. Emotions do not segregate. Positive and Negative emotions associate freely with each other inside the same causation. I can be in love with the same person I am angry at, or about. I may not wish to be alone, but wish to be left alone. These are not conflicting. They are not at odds. The contrast causes no schism.

We also never have just one thought. We're not thinking a single thought, not ever -- if we did then the heart stops and death comes savagely. But even higher into our conscious awareness, as we speak, we are watching who we are addressing. We are measuring what has been said, against context. We're estimating, inferring, building, extrapolating coda outside our awareness, beyond what we know -- While we are judging our adversary, we also think these other things.

We listen to tones in voices and estimate by what words do to eyes.  

So, we are never thinking one thing, and we are never feeling one emotion. We think in matrix and feel in tides. Experience is what you get when those two talk. Beyond thought, beyond awareness, or the memory of either. Experiences are metaphoric collections of living. Not of life, but of _living_. 

In concert, experiences are commutable. An experience can be imparted to another, and through empathic transference another can undergo the fission or horripilate originally felt by the author.

A story which transfers knowledge and emotion as experience is a Me (may)


If you read a Me I wrote about how to write a novel, when you were finished you would have the experience of writing one. You will for all intents and purposes, have written one. You'll know and a have felt everything about the process I explained in the story. That was what Me meant. A Me does not only impart academic information but real life experience as well. 




THE NAM SHUB OF ENKI 

Once upon a time, there was no snake, there was no scorpion,

There was no hyena, there was no lion,

There was no wild dog, no wolf,

There was no fear, no terror,

Man had no rival.

In those days, the land Shubur-Hamazi,

Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the me of prince ship,

Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,

The land Martu, resting in security,

The whole universe, the people well cared for,

To Enlil in one tongue gave speech.

Then the lord defiant, the prince defiant, the king defiant,

Enki, the lord of abundance, whose commands are trustworthy,

The lord of wisdom, who scans the land,

The leader of the gods,

The lord of Eridu, endowed with wisdom,

Changed the speech in their mouths, put contention into it,

Into the speech of man that had been one.

_Translated from ancient Sumerian._



The Dub of meh: Possible Causation of Feeling Down

Feeling Fearful? Bad? Depressed? 
Do You Have Low Frequency Protection? 

Sound systems and Entertainment Center option on your computer:

I was inside the sound settings on my laptop, now that I have it using the large flat screen - which is outstanding by the way ... five foot screen? Oh, yeah. — and came across the Low Frequency Protection. Not knowing what this was about, I looked into it.

In the Windows 10 settings (new settings, not old control panel), you find it like this:

  1. Sound.
  2. Under "Output", click "Device properties"
  3. Under "Related settings", click "Additional device properties"
  4. In the window that opens, go to the tab "Enhancements"
  5. Check "Low frequency protection"
  6. Click "Settings"

Bass tones, at these low frequencies, are known as Infrasounds.

Infrasounds are an issue around industrial districts where heavy machinery is pounding out parts or stamping out plates or 'thudding' is happening. There are some interesting studies regarding the possibility that infrasound is the at the foundation of Haunted house reports and UFO encounters.

After some follow up research, I discovered a couple of things. First, typically the setting is defaulted for 80 Hz. Second, the default is for protection to be off. Which is fine if you understand what it means, and are down for the experience.

The closer the bass gets to 20 Hz, the more noticeable the effect, but the effect begins at under 50 Hz.

I like bass; I like the vibration. Big fan of Bass and Drum Techno... however, I'm not a big fan of Terror or being Terrorized. And that is the effect of low tone and sub-bass under 50Hz.

You probably won't realize what's going on, and if you have Major Depression, you could — like I have over the years — just passed it off as a 'bad day' ... we get those — or do we? See, I'm not so sure. Because a lot of musicians and movie soundtracks will use those low tones, at 20Hz or 10Hz... you can't hear that or become aware of the tone. You also couldn't figure out where it was coming from if you could hear it... but you feel it... oh yes, you will feel it — pure terror.

Which, of course, is exactly why movie directors and bands use the infrasound bass — for effect. To send a thrill of terror into you. It's all chemical. The vibrations at that frequency cause disruptions and chemical releases you have no control over. It just happens, like a pure tone can shatter glass. Bam!, and it's a bad day.

Again, if you are aware, then it's a roller coaster ride, kind of fun. But if you're not...

... but now you are.

The Four Basic Styles of Communication

A Reminder before we begin:


I'm a fiction writer. Why I post these is for other writers, and to keep them in a place I can find them easy — because I use these all the time to help develop character personality types and Passive/Aggressive is useful in many ways for secondary characters. I've yet to use it for MCs. It would be an excellent addition for character arch. The trait is easy to recognize as well, adding to the immersion experience for the reader.  They come in all shapes and sizes. Some a brilliant but don't believe it. Some are back-stabbing little dweebs who are just trying to get a little closer to your back. 

So, have fun and let's get started. 

PASSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals have developed a pattern of avoiding expressing their opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, and identifying and meeting their needs.

As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations. Instead, they allow grievances and annoyances to mount, usually unaware of the buildup. But once they have reached their high tolerance threshold for unacceptable behavior, they are prone to explosive outbursts, which are usually out of proportion to the triggering incident.

After the outburst, however, they may feel shame, guilt, and confusion, so they return to being passive.

Passive communicators will often:

  • fail to assert for themselves
  • allow others to deliberately or inadvertently infringe on their rights
  • fail to express their feelings, needs, or opinions
  • tend to speak softly or apologetically
  • exhibit poor eye contact and slumped body posture

The impact of a pattern of passive communication is that these individuals:

  • often feel anxious because life seems out of their control
  • often feel depressed because they feel stuck and hopeless
  • often feel resentful (but are unaware of it) because their needs are not being met
  • often feel confused because they ignore their own feelings

A passive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:
  • “I’m unable to stand up for my rights.”
  • “I don’t know what my rights are.”
  • “I get stepped on by everyone."
  • “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself.”
  • “People never consider my feelings.”

2. AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION


AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals express their feelings and opinions and advocate for their needs in a way that violates the rights of others. Thus, aggressive communicators are verbally and/or physically abusive.

Aggressive communicators will often:

  • try to dominate others
  • use humiliation to control others
  • criticize, blame, or attack others
  • be very impulsive
  • have low frustration tolerance
  • speak in a loud, demanding, and overbearing voice
  • act threateningly and rudely
  • not listen well
  • interrupt frequently
  • use “you” statements
  • have an overbearing or intimidating posture

The impact of a pattern of aggressive communication is that these individuals:

  • become alienated from others
  • alienate others
  • generate fear and hatred in others
  • always blame others instead of owning their issues, and thus are unable to mature

The aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:

  • “I’m superior and right and you’re inferior and wrong.”
  • “I’m loud, bossy and pushy.”
  • “I can dominate and intimidate you.”
  • “I can violate your rights.”
  • “I’ll get my way no matter what.”
  • “You’re not worth anything.”
  • “It’s all your fault.”
  • “I react instantly.”
  • “I’m entitled.”*
  • “You owe me.”
  • “I own you.”


3. PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. People who develop a pattern of passive-aggressive communication usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful – in other words, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the object (real or imagined) of their resentments.

Passive-Aggressive communicators will often:
  • mutter to themselves rather than confront the person or issue
  • have difficulty acknowledging their anger
  • use facial expressions that don't match how they feel - i.e., smiling when angry
  • use sarcasm
  • deny there is a problem
  • appear cooperative while purposely doing things to annoy and disrupt
  • use subtle sabotage to get even

The impact of a pattern of passive-aggressive communication is that these individuals:

  • become alienated from those around them
  • remain stuck in a position of powerlessness (like POWs)
  • discharge resentment while real issues are never addressed so they can't mature

The passive-aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:

  • “I’m weak and resentful, so I sabotage, frustrate, and disrupt.”
  • “I’m powerless to deal with you head on so I must use guerilla warfare.”
  • “I will appear cooperative but I’m not.”

4. ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION


ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals clearly state their opinions and feelings, and firmly advocate for their rights and needs without violating the rights of others. These individuals value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and are strong advocates for themselves while being very respectful of the rights of others.

Assertive communicators will:

  • state needs and wants clearly, appropriately, and respectfully 
  • express feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully 
  • use “I” statements 
  • communicate respect for others 
  • listen well without interrupting 
  • feel in control of self 
  • have good eye contact 
  • speak in a calm and clear tone of voice 
  • have a relaxed body posture 
  • feel connected to others 
  • feel competent and in control 
  • not allow others to abuse or manipulate them 
  • stand up for their rights

The impact of a pattern of assertive communication is that these individuals:

  • feel connected to others
  • feel in control of their lives
  • are able to mature because they address issues and problems as they arise
  • create a respectful environment for others to grow and mature


The assertive communicator will say, believe, or behave in a way that says:

  • “We are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another.”
  • “I am confident about who I am.”
  • “I realize I have choices in my life and I consider my options.”
  • “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.”
  • “I can’t control others but I can control myself.”
  • “I place a high priority on having my rights respected.”
  • “I am responsible for getting my needs met in a respectful manner.”
  • “I respect the rights of others.”
  • “Nobody owes me anything unless they’ve agreed to give it to me.”
  • “I’m 100% responsible for my own happiness.”


Do Swear Words have a Purpose?

Should you use swear words? There are quite a few opinions out there about whether they should be used. Some people feel that there is nothing intellectual or edgy about swear words -- That they have no artistic value, and only show a lack of skill.

The first thing I want to know when asked about this topic, and many others that come in the form of "Is it alright to..?" is to know if the concern is as a Writer? or Morally? I can't help with morals. I don't find moral evaluation effective for fiction writing. Just about everything I post on this blog is from the POV of being a writer, and creating stories which have immersion value for the reader. With that in mind:

Perhaps a strong argument could be made that profanity itself is not intellectual. Maybe you could even make an argument -- that, aside from those who have endured injuries to the brain, or suffer from mental conditions, which make swearing an act beyond their control -- using profanity demonstrates a lack of intelligence. However, using fuck properly as a writer is intellectual. 

Studies show that sex-related insults in particular are common across cultures (Flynn, 1976), so they are good tools for keeping the reader inside the story, with a strong, impacting word. No matter what culture you are raised in, if you speak English, you are not going to be confused about the meaning of Fuck in the context of the scene.

Vocabulary Effect

Take a quick check of your emotional state at this point. How do you feel over all? Note levels of stress or tense muscles. Take a breath and relax. There are several memes in this article which will likely cause tense or stressful feelings as you continue to read. Be mindful and allow the feeling. Notice what happens when you read these words. Make notes. 
Having command of a lexicon, which is cross-culturally understood has obvious value to a writer, no matter what that writer strives in producing. This is hardly an intellectual justification for a small subset of the vocabulary, when there are others which could claim the same level of understanding. But there are qualities in certain words which other words do not possess.

A while back I posted a piece on the power particular words have on us:

Writers use words as tools, as keys, even as a mode of travel -- but it has come to my attention that many writers, even experienced novelists, don't really divine the concept that 'words have power'. Take for example the word yawn. Yawn is short, and basic. Yawn is not a command, and thus benign. Yawn is even a common word. We hear the word yawn all the time. When someone yawns, however, other people yawn.  In fact, you don’t even need to see me yawn do you? No. You don’t. You just have to read the word yawn, a few times, and your mind will react just like the word yawn was a real yawn, instead of just a word on the page.

Not enough novelists give this the consideration it deserves. It should be passed on with greater frequency, but even we minimize phrases like “Words have power”, hearing it as an esoteric belief, rather than a fact that has more than three decades of rigorous study behind the concepts to back them up -- with repeatable results. We feel or believe that this belongs to another era, the 70s perhaps -- when in fact it is more apt now than it ever was – in any other age.

So, back to what we are talking about, we know that insults, especially insults that refer to the act of sex a physically affecting. However, simply referring to sex or genitalia is not sufficient to make a word or phrase taboo. Our reaction to the word “fuck” is much different than our reaction to “coitus,” “make love,” or even “have sex.” There is also nothing special about the sounds or syllables in the word “fuck.” Close-sounding words—such as “duck,” “truck,” and ”buck”—are not prohibited and in some cases can serve as a more socially appropriate substitution for what everyone understands was meant to be a curse word, for example “mothertrucker!” (Pinker, 2007).

In certain situations swear words and taboo phrases have their uses: mainly to evoke a strong negative reaction from someone. Speech perception is nearly automatic in mature individuals (Pinker, 2007). Try this: don’t think of an apple. Did you think of an apple anyway when you read the word “apple”? With swear words, your mind
immediately drags up whatever offensive combination of forceful descriptors of the nastier aspects of things we may not want to think about.

Swear words are also useful and effective ways of conveying that you feel strongly about something or inciting strong feelings in someone else, even when used outside of their traditional definitions (Jay, 2009a; Pinker, 2007). Saying that something is “bloody amazing” does not mean that that thing was literally bloody, but adding the term “bloody” to the phrase gives it extra emotional emphasis.

However, swearing is not always about evoking negative emotions; swearing itself can also be a cultural phenomenon.

Denotations and connotations are associated with any word when you hear them, but swear words are more primal. Their connotations more profound on the reader, or listener. These make swear words powerful insults and forceful descriptors of the nastier aspects of things -- yes -- but also they are bridges to other aspects of meaning and description. For example:

The willingness to break a cultural taboo in front of others creates an atmosphere of informality and sense of community. A realism that pulls the reader into an emersion. If taboos are defined by the greater society, then an environment where subverting those taboos is acceptable creates a smaller, more intimate society inside of the greater society (Pinker, 2007).

Using this information it is easy to see how this is useful to demonstrate a MCs history. For example, your MC is a District Attorney. For the last three chapters he's dealt with criminals, but not once has he used profanity. He talks to the Mayor, to lawyers, to police officers. Perhaps these other characters have used profanity, or maybe not, but he has not. In chapter four he visits his parents house, and when he finds his cousin there, he says, "Holy shit motherfucker! When did you get back?"

We instantly feel that there is a strong bond between these two characters, and that they share a relationship that perhaps no one else in the family is a part of. It's personal, and intimate. It also demonstrates a level of trust between them. 


Another interesting use of taboo language is as a cathartic experience, a way of expressing and alleviating pain, frustration, stress, or regret (Jay et al. 2006). A classic example of this would be shouting “damn it” after hitting yourself with a hammer while trying to nail something down.

Swearing was also shown to increase the ability of subjects to tolerate pain (Stephens, 2011).


Using neuroimaging techniques such as PET (positron emission tomography) scans, they demonstrated that a small part of the brain called the amygdala is highly active when exposed to threatening, and vulgar words (Isenberg, 1999).

The amygdala is part of the limbic system, one of the primitive parts of the brain responsible for processing emotion and memory. In particular, amygdala activity is correlated with negative emotional associations; stimulating the amygdala can cause panic attacks and aggressive behaviors, while destroying the amygdala causes unusual placidness or fearlessness (Zald, 2003; Davis, 2001). Therefore, it makes sense that the amygdala would be activated in association with unpleasant words such as swear words. The amygdala also makes several connections to memory and association centers in the brain, which could also be responsible for the increased memory response when subjects are presented with swear words (Davis, 2001).

Is swearing harmful?

“Swearing can occur with any emotion and yield positive or negative outcomes. Our work so far suggests that most uses of swear words are not problematic.”

 ~ Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz
The use of swearing in both aphasia and GTS gives us a real insight into how swearing works in the brain. Individuals with aphasia have damaged the normal parts of the brain which produce formal language, such as Broca’s area or Wernicke’s area, found in the left hemisphere of the brain. The fact that they continue to be able to swear suggests that swearing is localized outside of these damaged areas, and is handled differently than other parts of their vocabulary. Psychologist Chris Code, who studied individuals who had their left hemispheres removed, proposed that swear words and several other types of speech preserved in aphasic individuals fall into a category of “lexical automatisms” or automatic speech, which are localized to the right hemisphere instead of the left one (Code, 1996; Van Lancker 1999).

Swear words for fiction writers are tools. If you use them properly, the rise in emotional levels of the reader, plus the increased memory signature for the details described by the passage can enhance the story.

 But if you're just saying fuck to say fuck, well, fuck it.

Check out 100 Happy Words, and 100 not so happy


Further Reading



GTP and ME and Chess

You: Give me an annotation of the following game, noting and highlighting tactics, positioning, shifts in momentum and their causes, as we...