Online Chinese Casino Guide

Signs of a Gambling Problem

It is not the length of time spent gambling, or the amount of money lost, not is it bad luck or poor money management, that makes a pathological gambler. In fact, it may surprise some people to learn that there are pathological gamblers who come for treatment while they are still winning! Not many certainly, but a few. Some recognize their over-involvement with gambling, their preoccupation with it while at work, or when they should be concentrating on other things. They notice that they are escalating their bets, or taking greater risks than they should. Or perhaps they are concerned about the sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, or that feeling in the pit of their stomach. Maybe winning, or just not losing, has become too important.

Just as some people can recognize an early gambling problem, researchers are beginning to identify those who are at risk of becoming pathological gamblers.

Possible predisposing factors include:

1. A family history of compulsive gambling. As many as one third of compulsive gamblers have a biological relative with the disorder. It is not unusual to find such a history extending through two and three generations.

2. Growing up in a family with an extremely critical, or rejecting, or emotionally unavailable parent. For men, this is usually the father, and there is a lifelong campaign to please that parent and win their approval. This is generalized onto others as a need to impress, and an over-concern with being appreciated. There may be a rebellion against this, a kind of pseudo-independence, as well as a great deal of destructive anger.

Many pathological gamblers grow up believing they can never be good enough, or they can never do enough. They develop compensatory fantasies of some spectacular success, like a "big win," which will show others just how good they are. Such a win, they believe, will also bring them financial or emotional independence.

3. An emphasis in the family on status, or an overvaluing of money. Many pathological gamblers were taught at an early age to equate money with self-worth or with power, control, or security. For example, I have seen a number of pathological gamblers among the children of holocaust survivors who grew up with fathers who were not only angry, depressed, or emotionally unavailable, but who believed that the only way to achieve security was to have enough money. This was their only way to counter a profound sense of helplessness, and to assure themselves that what happened to them could not happen again. It is what they transmitted to their children, who then became pathological gamblers.

4. Men, in particular, brought up to be extremely competitive. Pathological gamblers are, typically, extremely competitive. Many were deliberately raised that way, usually by their fathers. Winning became everything. Initially essential for parental approval, it was soon the basis of their self-esteem. For many, there is a kind of "all-or-nothing" thinking, in which one is good or bad, perfect or worthless, a super-hero or a piece of garbage. In other words, a winner or a loser.

5. The existence of an early physical or developmental problem. Also at risk seem to be those who are compensating for some physical or developmental problem which caused them great shame and humiliation early in life. This might include some congenital abnormality, speech defect, a problem with bed-wetting, obesity, short stature, or delayed puberty. This seems to be a factor for addictions in general.

6. Hyperactivity. For many with Attention Deficit Disorder, gambling initially serves as a rather specific way to medicate oneself. Just as they discover with video games, or with certain drugs such as cocaine or the amphetamines, gambling has a paradoxical effect on them, it slows them down, calms them, allows them to concentrate. However, when there are other factors present, it gets out of hand. This is a subtype of pathological gambler we are only just beginning to recognize.




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