A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling


At the moment, there is no single conceptual theoretical model of gambling that adequately accounts for the multiple biological, psychological and ecological variables contributing to the development of pathological gambling. Advances in this area are hampered by imprecise definitions of pathological gambling, failure to distinguish between gambling problems and problem gamblers and a tendency to assume that pathological gamblers form one, homogeneous population with similar psychological principles applying equally to all members of the class. The purpose of this paper is to advance a pathways model that integrates the complex array of biological, personality, developmental, cognitive, learning theory and ecological determinants of problem and pathological gambling. It is proposed that three distinct subgroups of gamblers manifesting impaired control over their behaviour can be identified. These groups include (a) behaviourally conditioned problem gamblers, (b) emotionally vulnerable problem gamblers and (c) antisocial, impulsivist problem gamblers. The implications for clinical management are discussed.

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