Pathological gambling and couple: Towards an integrative systemic model

Abstract

This article is a critical literature review of pathological gambling focused in the family factors, particularly in the couple dynamics. Its main goal is to develop an explicative integrative systemic model of pathological gambling, based in these couple dynamics. To achieve that aim, a bibliography search was made, using on-line data bases (e.g., EBSCO Host) and recognized books in pathological gambling subject, as well as in the systemic approach in general. This process privileged the recent works (about 70 % of the reviewed literature was published in the last decade), however, also considered some classic works (the oldest one dates back to 1970). The guiding focus of this literature search evolves according to the following steps: (1) search of general comprehension of pathological gambling (19 references), (2) search specification to the subject “pathological gambling and family” (24 references), (3) search specification to the subject “pathological gambling and couple”(11 references), (4) search of systemic information which integrates the evidence resulted in the previous steps (4 references). The developed model is constituted by different levels of systemic complexity (social context, family of origin, couple and individual) and explains the problem as a signal of perturbation in the marital subsystem vital functions (e.g., power and control) though the regularities of marital dynamics of pathological gamblers. Furthermore, it gives theoretical evidence of the systemic familiar intervention in the pathological gambling.

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