why do we shout when in pain

It is a compensatory stimulus. A sudden pain is a large stimulus when one is in a resting state. Shouting, along with simultaneous changes in e. g. blood pressure, sweating, etc. means that the pain is no longer the only thing going on with the body and allows the pain to be put in perspective instead of dominating. There seems to be a limit to the maximum such response, and adding the shout (the physical actions that create the shout) allows the response to be averaged out instead of concentrated solely in the pain. In other words, shouting distracts us from the pain. Since it can take pain a few moments to maximize, we may shout more vigorously than is needed, but that only becomes apparent after the pain has maximized.
There are actually two questions hidden in this one.


For a clear answer we can best treat them separately: (1) Why do we cry when we are in sudden pain? (2) Why do we say БouchБ and not something else? With regard to the first question, letБs start by noting that weБre not alone: a lot of other animals also cry when in pain. Why? Darwin, who wrote a book in 1872 about emotions in humans and animals, thought it had to do with the fact that most animals experience strong muscle contractions when theyБre in pain Б a ritualized version of quickly escaping a painful stimulus. Still, why should this be accompanied with an actual cry? Research has since shown that pain cries also have communicative functions in the animal kingdom: for example to alarm others that there is danger, to call for help, or to prompt caring behavior.


That last function already starts in the first seconds of our life, when we cry and our mothers caringly take us in their arms. Human babies, and in fact the young of many mammals, are born with a small repertoire of instinctive cries. The pain cry in this repertoire is clearly recognizable: it has a sudden start, a high intensity and a relatively short duration. Here we already see the contours of our БouchБ. Which brings us to the second part of our question. Why do we say БouchБ and not something else? Let us first take a more critical look at the question. Do we never shout anything different? Do we utter a neat БouchБ when we hit our thumb with a hammer or could it also be Б aaaah!


Б? In reality there is a lot of variation. Still, the variation is not endless: no one shouts out Б bibibibi Б or Б vuuuuu Б when in pain. Put differently, pain cries are variations on a theme Б a theme that starts with an Б aa Б sound because of the shape of our trachea when our mouth is wide open, and then sounds like Б ow Б or Б ouch Б when our mouth quickly returns to being closed. The word БouchБ is a perfectly fine summary of this theme Б and here we touch on an important function of language. Language helps us share experiences which are never exactly the same and yet can be categorised as similar. That is useful, because if we want to talk about Бsomeone crying ouchБ we donБt always need or want to imitate the cry.


In that sense БouchБ is more than just a pain cry: it is a proper word. Does this all imply that БouchБ may be the same in every language? Almost, but not quite, since each language will use its own inventory of sounds to describe a cry of pain. In German and Dutch it is Б au Б, in Israeli it is Б oi Б, and in Spanish itБs Б ay Б Б at least that is how Byington described it in 1942 in one of the first comparisons of these words. Each of us is born with a repertoire of instinctive cries and then learns a language in addition to it. This enables us to do more than scream and cry: we can also talk about it. Which is a good thing, for otherwise this answer could not have been written. б Originally written in Dutch by б and

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