Affects of Gambling
In a world fraught by deadly ecological problems, the idea of discussing the future of gambling may seem frivolous. Yet it is far from that.
As a fundamental human activity, it deserves to be studied without cultural or religious bias for the key that it may provide to survival.
We have been fed a lot of myths about our wish for homeostasis, which is really a state of bovine contentment. To attempt to achieve this state we consume mountains of pills and rivers of alcohol. Somehow we seem to feel that if we can deny our essential humanity long enough, we can solve our problems.
When we attempt to grow, we are considered mentally ill, masochistic, or naive. Outworn Freudian or Skinnerian approaches to human behaviour are pushed at us, and we seriously consider the nightmare possibilities of Beyond Human Freedom and Dignity.
If we are to design for a healthy future, we must remove our blinders and examine the total human personality from the point of view of health, not sickness.
Consider gambling. It is a fundamental human activity-- that is, people have always gambled, are gambling now, and will continue to gamble, in the future. Yet we are told that it is masochistic, sexually sublimative, and aberrant.
Gambling has been ubiquitous in human history, and the gambling impulse has served us well. It is part of "the adventurer within us"-- that part of ourselves which lusts for change, the wooing of the unknown, chance, danger, all that is new. It sends us to the gaming tables and the moon, the laboratory and the numbers man. It is part of what makes us human.
Studies show that, contrary to popular belief, gambling is by and large beneficial to the gambler and increases rather than decreases his efficiency. It is beneficial in that it stimulates, offers hope, allows decision making, and, in many cases, provides the gambler with "peak experience," that godlike feeling when all of one's physical and emotional senses are "go."
Looking at society as a whole, we see the "preservative impulse" involved in gambling operate for every age and socio-economic group.
Many elderly persons are passionate gamblers, called "elderly life seekers." What they seek is what most gamblers seek, involvement in the action. This is crucial to their sense of well-being in this society, which excludes them from the action of living and seeks to hide them away. Not only this, but while they play random games such as bingo and slot machines, they have an equal chance with the rest of the participants for perhaps the first time in their lives. While they play, they are wholly absorbed in the contest.
The implications of this are that gambling can stimulate the elderly to renewed interest in life, and that homes for the aged would do well to allow their residents to gamble, keeping them alert and stimulated rather than dull and tranquilized.
Moving from the retired to the working class, we find the importance of the gamble is still...