Epidemiology and Phenomenology of Pathological Gambling

Luke Clark

in The Oxford Handbook of Impulse Control Disorders

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195389715
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Epidemiology and Phenomenology of Pathological Gambling

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Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder (ICD) characterized by loss of control over gambling behavior. This chapter will describe the illness profile of pathological gambling. As well as summarizing the epidemiological data on the prevalence of pathological gambling and its associated comorbidities, I will also consider (1) the classificatory overlap between pathological gambling, the substance use disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder; (2) the emerging evidence for dimensional rather than categorical models of disordered gambling; and (3) some of the sources of hererogeneity among pathological gamblers, including the differences between common games. In the second part of the chapter, I will review several sets of psychological and neurobiological factors that are implicated in the etiology of pathological gambling, including the role of physiological arousal (“excitement”), conditioning influences, cognitive distortions, personality trait variables, and neuropsychological and neuroimaging markers. These mechanisms are often complementary, and a biopsychosocial theory of gambling will incorporate multiple levels of explanation.

Keywords: gambling; cognition; neuropsychology; risk-taking; impulsivity

Article.  17396 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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