Attachment styles and severity of pathological gambling: Preliminary evaluations


The addictive behaviors can be seen as attachment disorders. To our knowledge, the literature on the relationship between pathological gambling (PG) and attachment styles is still poorly represented. However, in addicted patients, the identification of secure or insecure attachment styles seems to have serious implications for the therapeutic alliance and the treatment.

To examine the clinical role of attachment styles in the PG patients.

To study the relationships between the different attachment styles and PG and the severity of PG.

We recruited 33 patients with GP according to DSM-IV-TR criteria; all patients were abstinent from addictive behaviors at least since one month, the experiences in close relationships (ECR) was administered to investigate attachment styles, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) to investigate the severity of gambling.

The subjects showed the following attachment styles (Table 1). Ambivalent attachment style correlates with high scores to the SOGS (P < 0.001), and with a shorter period of abstinence from PG (P = 0.022). Patients with ambivalent attachment style have increased severity of PG at SOGS, correlating with higher raw score on the anxiety factor of ECR and lower raw score on avoidance factor (for both P = 0.036).

Patients showed ambivalent attachment, and anxiety factor correlates with a greater severity of PG. Attachment style could be a severity index of PG. Our findings need to be replicated in larger groups, also widening the target of other addictions both chemical and behavioral.

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