Alterations in the emotional regulation process in gambling addiction: The role of anger and alexithymia

Abstract

This study aims at the assessment of alexithymia and anger levels in 100 treatment-seeking pathological gamblers compared with controls, who were matched for age, gender and education. Furthermore a positive correlation between alexithymia, anger and severity of gambling disorder and a relationship between gambling behaviour and anger after controlling for alexithymia, are investigated. Finally the role that gender plays in anger in pathological gamblers was also evaluated. Psychological assessment includes the South Oaks Gambling Screen, State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 and the twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Statistical analysis of the results shows a higher level of anger in pathological gamblers than in controls, together with alterations in emotional processing. Severity of gambling behaviour positively correlates with alexithymia scores, state-anger and trait-anger. Moreover, a significant contribution of anger in predicting gambling behaviour was suggested after controlling for alexithymia. In conclusion, anger and alexithymia must be regarded as relevant components of the assessment of pathological gamblers, in order to select the best therapeutical strategies to prevent self-defeating behaviours and to reduce drop-out from treatments.

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