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Devereux, G. (1950). Psyghodynamigs of Mohave Gambling. Am. Imago, 7(1):55-65.

(1950). American Imago, 7(1):55-65

Psyghodynamigs of Mohave Gambling

George Devereux, Ph.D.

Although anthropological literature abounds in technical descriptions of primitive gambling games (3), the behavior of gamblers and of their spectators, and the psycho-dynamics of primitive gamblers have, to the best of my knowledge, remained almost entirely unexplored.

It is, hence, my purpose to describe two Mohave gambling games, and to offer a preliminary interpretation of the social implications and psychodynamics of Mohave gambling.

Mohave gambling is always a more or less formalized affair, which invariably takes place during formal gatherings, many of which were organized mainly for the purpose of arranging gambling contests. On these occasions, as well as during other gatherings, the gamblers - unless they happen to own certain charms to be mentioned further below -and the other guests as well, engage in a not inconsiderable amount of sexual activity, and, whenever alcoholic beverages are available, also in quite a bit of drinking (8, 9). Despite the consumption of alcohol and the excitement of the game, gambling arguments appear to be exceedingly rare, and are promptly checked by the umpire, who may threaten to stop the game by the simple expedient of burning the stakes entrusted to him. (14)

It is important to realize that Mohave gambling is not an informal and impromptu activity engaged in by small groups composed exclusively of gamblers. Rather does it occur in the institutionalized setting of structured social gatherings. The rarity of such gatherings, their formal nature and the presence of spectators tend to socialize gambling behavior and appear to prevent the gambling urge from turning into an obsession or an addiction.

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