Pathological Gambling as an Idea: What Does It Mean?

  • Peter Ferentzy
  • Nigel E. Turner


This chapter was written to clarify the basics of problem or pathological gambling (PG) as an idea and also to establish its existence. Controversies over the reality of mental disorders are especially poignant when behavioral addictions are at issue. We discuss evidence for PG based upon harm, prevalence, and its relationship to other psychiatric disorders. Assorted definitions of problem and pathological gambling, along with issues pertaining to subtypes and etiology, are discussed with the intention of identifying controversies as well as providing as much clarity as possible. Comparisons to substance addiction, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and impulse control disorder are made, both to help identify PG’s place in psychiatric nosology and also to highlight conceptual difficulties that would haunt us regardless of which designations we favor. Above all, we argue that PG is a reality even if it cannot be defined and explained to everyone’s satisfaction.


Nomenclature Definition Substance addiction, Obsessive–compulsive disorder Impulse control disorder Harm 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Ferentzy
    • 1
  • Nigel E. Turner
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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