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The Pathological Gambler and his Spouse: How do their Narratives Match?

Diana Cunha, Luciana Sotero, Ana Paula Relvas


This case study compares the narratives of a pathological gambler and his spouse concerning family, marital and individual matters. It does so through identifying each of the key players' narratives individually (analysis of self-report questionnaires) and interactively (couples therapy sessions analysis). The results show that the gambler has a rather more positive view of gambling-related issues than does his spouse, and this fact is most apparent when it comes to marital and family issues. The gambler's perspective is less positive when it comes to non-relationship issues (financial and professional issues). A few hypotheses are put forward to explain these results and these are summarized in three effects: denial, idealization/guilt relief, and disappointment/retaliation. Some implications for clinical practice are also identified, such as the need to set therapy objectives which are truly shared by both members of the couple, as well as guidelines for future research, such as studies focused on gender differences.


gambler and spouse perspective; family; marital and individual variables

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