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Geha, R., Jr. (1970). Dostoevsky and “the Gambler”: A Contribution to the Psychosenesis Of Gambling Part I. Psychoanal. Rev., 57(2):289-302.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Review, 57(2):289-302

Dostoevsky and “the Gambler”: A Contribution to the Psychosenesis Of Gambling Part I

Richard Geha, Jr.

Psychoanalysis Of The Gambler

Let us now briefly review the major psychoanalytic contributions to the subject of gambling, we will then be in a position to evaluate the material here analyzed from viewing Dostoevsky and The Gambler.

The first analyst to present a valuable discussion of the gambler was Ernst Simmel26 in 1920. Simmel found that gambling is an expression of the pregenital anal sadistic libido; that it is a narcissistic preoccupation with anal birth phantasies and the wish to inseminate oneself, replacing both the father and mother, thereby serving a bisexual aim. He also describes the passion as autoerotic: gambling represents forepleasure; winning—orgasm; losing—ejaculation, defecation, and castration.

The next contribution comes from Freud's classical study, “Dostoevsky and Parricide.”5 Freud points out that for Dostoevsky the criminal becomes almost a Redeemer, willing to bear guilt for others. The gambler's heavy burden of guilt assumes a burden of debt. Gambling, for Dostoevsky, was a form of self-punishment. Freud argues further that gambling is a repetition of the onanism compulsion; with both we find “The irresistible nature of the temptation, the solemn resolutions, which are nevertheless invariably broken, never to do it again, the numbing pleasure and the bad conscience which tells the subject that he is ruining himself (committing suicide)—all these elements remain unaltered in the process of substitution.” Freud also makes some valuable speculations on the onanistic phantasies unconsciously occupying the gambler.

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