You Bet Your Life: The Burdens of Gambling

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2001-07-13
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Kentucky
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" We are a nation of gamblers: pari-mutuel wagering at horse tracks; blackjack in Las Vegas; the NCAA basketball office pool; even day trading on the internet. Gambling is both our national pastime and our predominant cultural metaphor -- play the field; beat the odds; take a chance on love. Yet gambling poses serious risks to individuals and to society as a whole. Neil Isaacs -- sports historian, licensed clinical social worker, English professor, and a gambler himself for more than fifty years -- seeks to shatter the myths interfering with our understanding of gambling addiction, its causes, and its treatment. He begins by systematically debunking several commonly held beliefs, demonstrating that there is no such thing as the law of averages, that gambling is not inherently sinful, immoral, or criminal, and that money is not always the prime motivator for gamblers. Isaacs shows how habitual gambling can lead to compulsive gambling, but avoids oversimplifying this condition. Arguing against a undifferentiated interpretation of pathological gambling as a simple impulse control disorder, he draws examples from fiction, film, and his own practice to demonstrate additional ways gambling can be abused. A radical departure from established views, You Bet Your Life identifies the costs -- in dollars, people, families, and credit ratings -- of society's failure to address adequately the burdens of gambling.

Author Biography

Neil D. Isaacs is professor of English emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: A Roadmap Through a Minefield 1(10)
Seven Other Myths about Gambling
Gambling and the Irrational
The High-Profile Profile
The Compulsion to Lose
Gambling and Anxiety
Gambling and Depression
Gambling and Psychosis
Filling the Void
Gambling and the Brothers Barthelme
Gambling and Personality Disorders
Gambling and Addiction
Dilemmas of Diagnosis and Treatment
Notes 232(25)
Bibliography 257(11)
Index 268

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