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Following a comprehensive sociological approach, this article proposes to study the process by which a person with gambling addiction problems comes to define himself as a “compulsive gambler” and to accept the “illness” he claims to “suffer from”. To do this, we conducted a field survey and a series of in-depth interviews with members of a group of Gamblers Anonymous in Brussels who meet regularly to talk about their “gambling problem”, to support each other in their “abstinence” perspective and to learn to “live with” this illness which they perceive as “progressive” and “permanent”. In order to understand the meaning of this “recovery” process and the way in which the members appropriate it, we first used the working documents they use during their meetings, then focused on the life story of one of them. Along the way, we observed that this story, as constructed by the gambler, is based on a conception of the illness consistent with that of the group, which functions a posteriori as a narrative framework enabling him to recount his trajectory within the game and to think about the way in which he could “recover”. By tracing the thread of his story back to his initiation into gambling, we then sought to grasp what, from his point of view, could have led him to “become compulsive”, retrospectively inscribing his path as a gambler in a “deviant career” (as defined by Becker) from which he would like to escape.

  • addiction
  • gambling
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • self-labelling
  • deviant career
  • life story
Aymeric Brody
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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