Gambling: A Reality Distortion System, Part 1



Types of Reality Distortion Systems


Gambling can start out to be an innocent, occasional pastime, wherein the hopes of winning are based in the reality that there is minimal probability that, “the huge win,” will be realized.  It is fun to play a Keno card, to see if you can beat the dealer at 21, or to put a few nickles or quarters into a slot machine.

There is much research about what keeps us gambling once we start. It has been demonstrated that intermittent reinforcement produces resistance to stopping a behavior. Let’s take the slot machine as an example to illustrate intermittent reinforcement:  We put in a few nickles and once in a while, we hit three cherries, and get paid.  This entices the gambler to keep playing in hopes of winning more.  And we keep getting rewarded with occasional wins.  Pretty soon, we are hooked on playing the slot machine because we like the intermittent rewards. If we had continuous rewarding, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

So the occasional win keeps a gambler betting.  When problematical, addiction to the hope of the win, and the adrenalin produced by the win itself, keeps the gambler engaging in betting.  This engagement can move from the occasional visit to the gaming casino, to sports, golf, a tennis game etc.  It can permeate one’s life.

Gamblers tend to believe that the next win is right around the corner.  This belief most often leads to financial problems due to losses that are sustained.

What to Work On:  First and foremost, stop going to the casinos.  One must find other ways to have fun.  Think about approaching this like one might approach going on a diet; you simply cannot indulge!  Secondly, if betting on sports has become a passion, one may have to stop watching sports for a time.  Gamblers Anonymous can be an important support for those with gambling issues.  Find a meeting near you, and become active.

Next post: How to Implement New Behavior

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