Words by Jason Shiers, Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist at UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT)
Jason has been working with addictions and mental health for over 20 years in evolving ways until finding and experiencing the 3 Principles. Jason has been teaching and sharing the 3 principles in his work with addictions ever since.
This article will highlight where problem gambling and addiction really start, in the mind of the gambler, long before they come across any operator, but will also address whether or not operators can make the problem worse, or they can help with their responsible gambling tools.
Understanding human experience
Everyone is on the journey of life, and the only guarantee is change, it’s been the only guarantee since the dawn of time. Yet we have become so accustomed to addressing things that people struggle with as absolute, or facts of their character. Like the addictive, or any personality for example. If you cut someone open, you will not find any personality in there, it’s not embedded in someone, it’s an ever-changing projection of who they really are, often overshadowed by their developed psychology.
To understand this a little deeper, does every person see the same in everyone? If you take 10 people and ask them about someone’s personality that they all know, you would get 10 different answers. This suggests that personality is held in the eyes of the beholder, and that all attempts to define someone, are subjective, even in the world of psychology and problem gambling.
The subjectivity of life is innocently missed in traditional theories of psychology and psychiatry with its attempts to define people into categories and diagnoses. As if there is a permanent way of being that people are stuck with. Those theories unknowingly perpetuate the problem with a further recognition of an egoic unexplainable self-image, that is not fact.
Where does problem gambling and addiction start?
Over time as we go through life conditioning happens, a process of taking on other people’s ideas about how we should be, who we should be, and how the world should be, you could also call it development of the ego, self-image. This looks fixed, and that life is a process of bettering the illusory image, to improve our feelings, our experience of life and transcend suffering. Everyone from well-meaning family members, to billion dollar industries, support the development of the imaginary self, which often, further perpetuates suffering.
When the gap between who we think we are, and who we think we should be widens, when the world doesn’t look as we think it should look, suffering occurs. This is the fundamental foundation of the problem gamblers mind-set, something, could be anything, is not as it should be, and either one of two things occur. They either consciously or unconsciously seek escapism, or they try in vein to fill an infinite hole with a finite object.
Can gambling operators make the problem worse?
There are really 2 places to look here, the harm someone will do to themselves in order to fix an infinite unfixable problem, and the role operators play in facilitating that. Also, the responsibility and support in helping them see what is really going on, and pointing them in the right direction to get help.
It makes perfect sense not to allow people to damage themselves when you have the ability to stop it, but can operators really prevent damage or is just to protect their own business? The answer is, no one could ever know, every individual case where someone has spent an amount of money they don’t have, or committed a crime to get the money to gamble is going to be unique. There maybe times where exclusion is lifesaving, and also there maybe times where exclusion simply pushes people to the non-regulated operators where they continue their self-destruction to the point of suicide.
Can gambling operators help with support?
If gambling is the symptom, teaching people to manage their symptoms to stop the problem is like putting a plaster on a bullet wound. Teaching an understanding of how the human mind works as related to gambling could be life changing though, when people start to see how things really work, then problem gambling becomes less appealing, simply because there is less escapism needed from a happy life.
There are always the cases of extremity where people need interventions, and treatment for their out of control behaviour. If you take the numbers from NHS where they say:
“The NHS estimates that over 400,000 people in England have an addiction to gambling and two million people are at risk of developing the condition.”
You can see how it makes sense to make a huge dent in those numbers with a better understanding of the problem. It also stops us from continually expending energy and finances without getting any results.
Thomas Insel – Head Psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the national institute for mental health for 13 years recently wrote:
“I spent 13 years at NIMH really pushing on the neuroscience and genetics of mental disorders, and when I look back on that I realize that while I think I succeeded at getting lots of really cool papers published by cool scientists at fairly large costs—I think $20 billion—I don’t think we moved the needle in reducing suicide, reducing hospitalizations, improving recovery for the tens of millions of people who have mental illness.”
So, it would make sense, to get a different perspective of the problem, to have a fresh look, and tap into the infinite ingenuity and creativity of the supporting community and find the solution.
As we can see, the industry has innocently become fixated on the symptom, when it started long before the industry existed, gambling is simply a medium that’s accessible, not to blame in itself, but with some responsibility to help people who fund its existence.
Following the successful launch of SiGMA Europe (Malta) and SiGMA Asia (Manila), we’re now launching the inaugural SiGMA AMERICAS, covering all three major timezones. The inaugural edition is set for September 22-24, 2020 with a virtual summit focusing on two themes: SiGMA AMERICAS for the Gaming industry and AIBC AMERICAS for the Emerging Tech industry. We wanted to provide fresh content, to help you navigate through these turbulent times. If you’re exploring Americas as a new frontier or wondering which tech solutions to embrace, we've got you covered: tune in on September 22-24, 2020.