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Problem Gambling Factors

What kind of person is predisposed to problem gambling? Are you the kind of person that scientists expect to become a gambler? What are the known types of gamblers? What does Freud think about gamblers? How would you spot someone struggling with gambling issues? Let's consider and try to answer these questions right now.

Types Of Gamblers

Ralph Greenson developed a simple typology of gamblers, namely: amateurs, professionals and neurotics. Amateurs treat the game as entertainment and professionals try to make money from it, whereas neurotics simply can't stop themselves from playing.

When neurotics start gambling, their feelings of anxiety and depression are temporarily alleviated, although this only further exacerbates their problematic behaviour.

They are also referred to as “avoidant”  because they gamble to escape unpleasant emotions and their personal issues. In contrast however, there are others known as “action gamblers”, driven by adrenaline, excitement and the desire to win, who are usually more educated, ambitious and successful.

That said, “action gamblers” will often fall into the “avoidants” group, as even a professional gambler can become a neurotic.

Once the gambler is ready to have a go, depending on his disposition and personal circumstances there are several directions which he may head in. He may either gravitate toward trouble-free regular gambling, or possibly get into problem or even pathological gambling, which is recognized as a disorder in the DSM-IV by the American Psychiatric Association. As mentioned earlier, it often depends on one's circumstances.

Problem Gambler VS Pathological Gambler: What’s The Difference?

Edmund Bergler even developed a list of problem gambling signs that can be used for self-assessment.

How Do Problem Gamblers Feel After Taking A Break?

Complete ban on gambling for those with issues is not widely spread. But it's a normal practice for problem gamblers to self-exclude from the game for some time. It's a rough challenge, because this people are fighting a full-fledged addiction.

How To Keep Control?

Here are some tips on how not to lose control in such a situation.

  • In the calm phase, problem gamblers should already occupy themselves. Try something interesting that will compensate for hormonal spikes from the game – adrenaline entertainment, a new project, physical activity.
  • “Automatic fantasies” are the most insidious, because at this moment nothing bad seems to be happening. In fact, just as a bowling ball can't roll out of a rut once it gets there, our brain and our synaptic connections function in exactly the same way. Therefore, as soon as a gambler realises that he's reliving past victories, he should urgently start thinking about something else.
  • When the emotional tension starts increasing, it might be good to sublimate into creative activities. If it doesn't help, try going to a psychologist or seeking support from loved ones.
  • Making a decision to start gambling – no arguments will help at this stage, so the main recommendation is “do not negotiate with terrorists”.
  • If problem gamblers recognise they are at this stage, they should immediately self-exclude from the game, call their loved ones, and contact a psychologist.
  • When a gambler starts the game, he should ask a trusted person to be present with him. This person's goal will be to keep the gambler's behaviour in check.

It is also interesting to identify the typical cognitive traps of gambling addicts’ “thinking errors”.

What Contributes To Problem Gambling?

Scientists have discovered which children tend to grow into problem gamblers.

  • The children took part in gambling with their parents.
  • They are especially attracted to board games – from cards to monopoly.
  • The most important values for them are material.
  • They always feel jealous of rich relatives and friends.
  • They believe they can solve all their problems with money.

Pretty much the same factors usually affect the adults.

  • Tendency to dependent behavior.
  • Perceives gambling as a way to win big in no time.
  • Surrounded by gambling friends.
  • Unorganized spare time.
  • “Spare” money, unorganized budget.
  • Relationship conflicts.
  • Positive image of gambling in advertising.
  • Gambling availability.
  • Practicing lottery games.

What Do Psychologists Say About Problem Gamblers?

Sigmund Freud says that this behaviour is based on an unconscious desire to lose in order to feel a sense of injustice and self-pity. It is due to the fact that in childhood a problem gambler did not receive his mother’s attention or was often punished by his father, and also if, as a teenager, he liked to check how far he could go in his risky behaviour. Hoffman believes that the basis of problematic gambling behaviour is the need for risk, and those who have enough risk in life and at work are less inclined to risk strategies in gambling. And in general, studies say that gamblers love strong feelings.

Steer clear of these problem gambling issues! Be careful and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
1 December 2022 13:10