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Original Articles

Pathological Gambling: A Review of Phenomenological Models and Treatment Modalities for an Underrecognized Psychiatric Disorder

Article Abstract

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Pathological gambling (PG) is classified in the DSM-IV as a disorder of impulse control with the essential feature being recurrent and maladaptive gambling behavior.1 In the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization, PG is coded under the heading of Habit and Impulse Disorders together with kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania. 2 Impulse-control disorders are characterized by an overwhelming urge to perform a harmful act. Pathological gambling is a chronic, progressive, male-dominated disorder that has a prevalence of 1.0% to 3.4% among U.S. adults.3 Individuals with PG engage in persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. Typically, the patient’s life becomes dominated by gambling behavior, leading to overwhelming financial burdens, an inability to maintain a career, and the eventual disintegration of family relationships.

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