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Personality disorders are mental illnesses which impair one's ability to relate to and perceive of people and situations around them. On the other hand, pathological gambling refers to a disorder whereby an individual develops an irresistible impulse or urge to gamble. Previous studies have found a close association between personality disorders and pathological gambling, hence explaining the high rates of co-morbidity for personality disorders. This report discusses the relationship between personality disorders and pathological gambling.
To begin with, one of the connections between personality disorders and pathological gambling is that the former is a common risk factor for the latter. According to a study by Sacco, Cunningham-Williams, Ostmann, and Spitznagel (2008), there is evidence from earlier research which indicates that individuals with psychiatric, personality and substance dependence or abuse disorders are at a high risk of developing pathological gambling disorder. Sacco et al. (2008) note that the high prevalence of pathological gambling disorder in the substance-abusing and general populations has necessitated the theorization of the role of personality disorders in the development of addictive behaviors such as the pathological gambling disorder. Hence, people suffering from personality disorders such as schizoid, paranoid, and avoidant disorders are more likely to suffer from pathological gambling than the normal population. The fact that there is a high degree of comorbidity among people with personality and pathological gambling disorders also explains the relationship between the two.
Furthermore, personality disorders and pathological gambling are related in that individuals who suffer from both mental conditions tend to show similar patterns of behavior and symptoms. According to Odlaug, Schreiber, and Grant (2012), for instance, individuals with pathological gambling also tend to suffer from co-occurring personality disorders. Besides this fact, people affected by both disorders usually exhibit common traits such as dysfunctional thinking and behavior, emotional dysregulation, and impulsivity (Odlaug et al., 2012). Most individuals with both disorders often lack the ability to reason and think rationally and tend to be obsessed with unhealthy and rigid patterns of thinking, acting, and reasoning. Cluster B personality disorders and their respective symptoms have also been found to be prevalent among individuals with personality and pathological gambling disorders.
To summarize, the main link between pathological gambling and personality disorder is that personality disorders are a common risk factor for obsessive gambling behavior as most gamblers tend to show symptoms usually associated with personality disorders, such as impulsivity. The commonality is found in the similarities in their comorbidities, prevalence, and diagnostic features. Therefore, as suggested by Sacco et al. (2008), when diagnosing and treating individuals with personality disorders, it is important to monitor and assess them for the addictive gambling disorder.
Odlaug, B.L., Shreiber, L.R.N., & Grant, J.E. (2012). Personality disorders and dimensions inpathological gambling. Journal of Personality Disorders, 26(3), 381-392
Sacco P., Cunningham-Williams, R.M., Ostmann, E., & Spitznagel, E.L. (2008). The association between gambling pathology and personality disorders. Journal of Psychiatric Research,42, 1122-1130
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