Compulsive or pathological gambling is a progressive illness, a psychological disorder which is just as difficult to overcome as addiction to alcohol or drugs. The compulsive gambler experiences a series of stages, each with its own warning signs. While the number of stages varies from 3 to 5, depending on the source, all are similar in the first three.
This article discusses the 5 stages, since that is the most complete. Note that not all compulsive gamblers will experience all of the phases, as they may give up before the final one. In addition, here we will refer to the action compulsive gambler, primarily male, as opposed to an escape problem gambler, primarily female. Action Compulsive Gambler Profile Generally male, the action compulsive gambler possesses an I.Q. over 120, is controlling, manipulative and domineering and has a big ego.
He is also confident, assertive, energetic and very persuasive, yet with a low self-esteem. Typically, the action compulsive gambler started gambling early, often in the teenage years. The phases occur over a 10 to 30 year period. Games of choice are typically those of skill, usually card games, such as poker, or craps or dice games, horse or dog racing, and sports betting – both legal and illegal gambling venues.
The action compulsive gambler seeks to beat the “house,” and believes he has a system that will enable him to score the big win. Studies of action compulsive gamblers show that during the later phases, he will often switch to slots or video poker games in an attempt to escape from the desperation he feels over continued losses.
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