To the inveterate players, the game continues until all the winnings are gone.
In a sense, the inveterate player is also a mandatory loser.
Although pathological players can initially make cautious bets, they inevitably begin to risk much more than they can afford to lose.
Finally, in the performance of Edmund Bergler, a well-known psychoanalyst, the player experiences an intense emotion while playing that involves a tension between pleasure (winning) and pain (losing).
Bergler believed that playing that fit this model (model of the disease) was the evidence of a “dangerous neurosis”. The player was a diseased target person but was subjective unconscious of being sick.
Although Bergler published this interpretation in 1957, twenty years passed before the “disease model” became the dominant interpretation of compulsory gambling.
There have been some empirical efforts to prove some of the issues and the implications of the psychoanalytic interpretation of compulsory gambling.
In the 1920s, Hunter and Brunner managed Colgate’s personal inventory of Psychoneurotic trends and Colgate’s personal inventory of Introversion-Extraversion to a group of heavy players and a non-game student control group.
They found no significant difference that would indicate unique personality characteristics among heavy players.
They found that in both tests the players had a bimodal distribution (ie, high or low scored), while non-players had a distribution near the normal curve.
Just what this difference tells us about the personalities of players is unclear.
In a study of female poker players, McGlothlin predicted (based on psychoanalytic theory) that his subjects would be emotionally secure, have a strong belief in luck and superstition, and are risk takers.
His subjects completed the Bell adjustment inventory and their accounts were compared with accounts of the population in whom the test had been standardized.
The poker players turned out to be better adjusted than the standardized population. However, those poker players with the poorest adjustment were more likely to believe in luck and be superstitious, but they took no more risks or lost more money than the better adjusted players.
Another test of Morris’s psychoanalytic hypotheses found that, compared to non-players, players had a lower sense of self-responsibility and a greater discrepancy between their concept of self and happier than non-players and was really more secure.
In another study, they compared members of anonymous players, a group of psychiatric inpatients of the hospital, and a group of “normal” subjects in a number of characteristics linked to psychoanalytic theory.
The players were more hostile, aggressive, active, rebellious, “magical” in their thinking, and socially alienated than the normal group.
When compared to psychiatric patients, players were more active, expansive, and easy, but less anxious, worried, and pressured.