Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gambling addiction and regression

In the previous post I talked about drug users and how some of them could have a child like quality because drugs are an efficient and effective way for a person to regress. Most alcohol and drugs will remove the Parent and Adult ego states to varying degrees thus leaving the person in a child like state.

Any person prone to regression in the sense of using the defence mechanism of regression could be seen to be a potential problem drug user for the reasons just described. However even when not intoxicated often such people will still have a child like quality in the sense of being irresponsible, some times unemployed, perhaps endlessly sick or perhaps incapacitated by some form of physical or psychological illness and establishing relationships with others who tend to take the parental role.

Man face

A good example of this regressed quality in relationships comes with the addicted gambler. These people could be seen as being financially irresponsible. They do not know how to manage their finances. From a psychological point of view I would see gambling addicts as no different from the person who mismanages money by accruing large credit card debt or investing in dodgy business deals where they end up broke and in debt. A person who ends up broke from share trading is no different from a gambling addict at least in the psychological sense.

They both end up in a child like position or in a state of regression in this way. A young child does not know how to manage its money and if left to its own devices will end up in financial trouble. Thus it has a person, usually the parents who will manage it for them. Many a gambling addict will end up in the same kind of relationship where someone else basically gives them pocket money once a week. The person who spends all their money and ends up with large credit card debt may be compelled to see a ‘financial’ counsellor who ‘guides’ them on how to mange their money. All these individuals end up in the same kind of position in relationships.

The psychologically interesting part of this person compared to the drug user is the thing they are addicted to does not regress them. Drugs remove the Parent and Adult ego states whereas gambling does not. Thus even while they are engaged in their addiction (at the casino, share trading or on a shopping spree) their Parent and Adult ego states are still quite cathectable whereas the drug user’s is not.
Treatment will tend to have some different features. While engaged in their addiction (at the casino, share trading or on a shopping spree) how do they disconnect their Adult and Parent ego states. They know they are going to end up broke by doing their addictive behaviour so whilst in the actual act of unwise spending they much be able to disconnect at least their Adult ego state to some degree. How they do that is critical to dealing with the addiction.

As with the drug user the regression they are prone to is also necessary to address.


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