Gambling: The Need for Aggression

There is, in fact, an important distinction between normal and pathological aggression.

In normal aggression, hostility is aimed at the real enemy, not the imaginary one, say, the parent.

It arouses no feeling of inner guilt, because it is used in self-defense; also, since the enemy is not unconsciously lucid with an individual who figured in childhood experiences, the feeling of righteous animosity has no result of guilt.

This unconscious attack on rationality and intelligence -- an attack on reality, in fact, which is animated, also unconsciously - in gambling, is vicious and not at all harmless.

Quite the contrary. Even though he never gives his thoughts conscious expression, the gambler is actually saying that 'My parents taught me that every good deed would be rewarded, every bad one punished, but what happens instead?

'Honest men work hard and earn little. The crook gets money and fame. You preached that there is moral order of things and that heavy retribution follows if the path of decency is abandoned.

'What is the reality? The racketeer basks in glory, the decent man is pushed around; you instilled in me the foolish notion that only honest work brings success. At the gambling table, the opposite is true - people get rich without working at all.

'You wanted me to believe that logic rules in this world and that justice and reason prevail in the end. All lies. In gambling, all your logic and reason and justice are meaningless.

'None of your rules can explain how the roulette ball rolls, how the dice fall, how stocks climb, or cards are dealt. You claimed that in this best of all possible worlds, nothing is left to blind chance.

'But what happens in gambling houses, on the stock exchange, or at the racetrack shows you up as fools or hypocrites? Blind chance does rule in many places, and I intend to take advantage of it!

It is in the gambler's unconscious, it must be remembered, that this monologue is delivered.

Unconscious motivation is a clinically proven fact, but experience has shown that the psychologically uninformed person is extremely skeptical of such clinical facts.

However, he is often willing to accept the same facts when they are presented in a nonscientific medium; in a novel, for instance.

There are actual case histories with examples from literature -- one good example is Dostoevsky's 'The Gambler.' There are also many such matched pairs at hand, in which the main outlines of the fictional and real-life situations are basically the same.