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Gambling Addiction and Investment Addiction

businessmenMy interest and expertise in this area includes not only the “conventional” forms of gambling: sports, cards, horses etc., whether inperson or online, but in the increasingly prevalent form of what I call “investment” gambling.

Over the past decade or so, beginning with the dot-com boom and bust and culminating with the more recent real estate boom and bust, investment gambling has become a socially-sanctioned, epidemic form of gambling addiction, with its own unique blend of psychological underpinnings.

Gambling is, indeed, one of the most baffling, insidious, and compulsive addictions, and there are certain psychological characteristics common to compulsive gamblers: an inability and unwillingness to accept reality (fueling the urge to escape into the all-consuming dream world of gambling); an emotional insecurity that causes gamblers to feel “secure” and comfortable only when they are “in action”; and a psychological immaturity evident in the gambler’s desire to attain the “good life” and to be a “big shot,” while exerting little effort or hard work.

Yet even more pervasive than gambling addiction (and, as yet, unrecognized as an addiction) is what I call “investment gambling.” Investment gamblers come in many shades: stock market gamblers, options and derivatives gamblers, day traders and market momentum traders, investors in high-flying hedge funds and private equity funds, and investors in real estate development and speculation, just to name a few.

But most troubling of all, perhaps, are the many Mom-and-Pop investors who, seduced by the market mania leading up to the crash of 2008, burned through the equity in their homes and, in many cases, their childrens’ college funds and their own retirement money in their desire to get rich quick.

A number of factors have contributed to converting many who have had no prior history of gambling into “investment gamblers.” Strong cultural, political, and economic forces have undoubtedly fueled greater risk-taking over the past decade.

Investment-Addiction Therapy

However, my clinical experience working with investment addiction has convinced me that psychological factors are the primary cause of “investment gambling” among the broader public. A combination of narcissistic self-interest, colored by grandiosity and opportunism, and poor judgment and impulse control is what drives so many of us to engage in the various self-destructive, socially-sanctioned forms of investment gambling.As a psychologist versed in “investment addiction,” I can assist you in identifying how and why your otherwise well-intentioned “investment” activity morphed into an addiction, and help you recognize and rein in such self-defeating addictive tendencies going forward.