Gambling: A Spiritual Pus

He had been aggressive since his childhood. Nearly all his peers feared him. When unable to find to something to get angry with, he would turn to God. Aggression was virtually a hereditary characteristic passed to him from his grandfathers.

Nearly every night, he witnessed his father beating his mother.

His dear mother’s silent screams heard from their bedroom, saying “The children will hear us, please stop already!”; the relentless reactions of his father to these screams, and the traces left by the belt on poor woman’s body… And the four siblings crying while all these things were happening. Those painful mimics they kept hidden not to let their father see, and the tears flowing in…

And many hurtful events that don’t leave his memories.

By the way, an Ankara Political Sciences graduate, the father was among the notables of the town. He was intelligent, literate and knowledgeable. He knew the poems of many masters by heart, including Necip Fazıl. He was almost feared by all. But, in a weird sense, he was loved as well. He helped those in need. He was frank and appeared to have a “valiant” and even a “tough guy” character who does not kneel to anyone.

The patient was the oldest of his siblings. He graduated one of the French high schools. Even in his childhood, he aimed to escape the family, that environment. He eventually succeeded in the high school entrance exams, left the family and came to Istanbul for education.

He consulted with a physician with the complaints of being unable to fall asleep, the nightmares pestering him, reacting the lowest of the sounds by jumping, etc., which appeared to be a scene of post-traumatic stress disorder. He was of a certain age already. Neither of his parents was alive.

His girlfriend forcefully brought him to the doctor. The woman was sensing vital risks. She was going to pay for the doctor’s treatment fee. The man was really penniless. He didn’t have any money left.

It was the woman who broke the silence.

She said, “He lost all his wealth in gambling, doctor.” Five million dollars were lost at a single night. In Las Vegas, at a night shining with neon lights. He almost ran out of money to go back to Istanbul.

The man was thinking as the woman told the story. He was reluctant.

He found the courage when the physician told a couple of memories, implying that he had a very decent understanding of how the gambler psychology is like. As a matter of fact, this maneuver worked out.

The man started to restlessly tell about the incidents he had experienced since his childhood. He had no money anymore but had quite an interesting and colorful life.

He gave a special place to his father in his speech. The physician and the father were not strangers anymore… At some point, the doctor thought “Father and son… How similar could two men’s faith be?”. His personality was almost equal to his father’s. That was way too much identification. However, there was quite a significant point which completely distinguishes the man from the father. The courtesy he had for women… To all kinds of women. Beautiful, ugly, illiterate, intellectual, conservative, sex worker, it did not matter at all. He treated them like they were fragile, quite expensive glasses. As prudent and cautious as possible for the human dignity.

As the physician was thinking about where to put the gambling addiction, the man came to his help by saying “If you take away gambling and women from me, you destroy all the motives I have for living.” .

He was obviously looking for a solution to depression. Maybe he wanted to lose all and disappear. Maybe the bitter past would also be plunged into the darkness with him as he was disappearing. The nightmares he saw each and every night, and the terrifying pursuit of a man making him sweat like a horse in each nightmare would come to an end.

He acquired the ability to perceive the background of the tiny mimics of the people due to gambling. He could easily understand what cards the people on the poker table had in their hands. He also knew the tricks of a casino. But he couldn’t prevent himself from taking huge risks, knowing he would lose. It was like he played to lose! He almost wanted to kill the gamblers, casino owners, croupiers, and everyone in the place, including himself… He wanted to beat them up with the good cards he got in his hands from time to time. As you can understand, he wasn’t your regular gambler.

The dopaminergic pleasure given by taking risks or saying “all in” was the biological infrastructure of the thing, which the doctor was aware of. The irresistible and fatal mechanisms of self-stimulation were triggered already for the sake of pleasure. We could be put the entire world in, let alone five million dollars.

The physician was a complete scientist. There must be something he could do.

He started with enlightening his patient. Commencing from his girlfriend, the remaining values were reviewed.

His need for gambling was provoked in some sessions. What he felt or thought at that moment was observed.

He was convinced of the fact that the predicament he got himself into was a brain-related issue, and all scientific opportunities, including pharmacological, electrophysiological and psychological ones, were set in motion.

While all these things were happening, the doctor was thinking, “He is an unpinned bomb, virtually a toy to somebody” and was deeply sad. After all, it was all about a grown man who was reduced a couple of pennies… “What a dirty job!” he said from within, “What a huge dirt…”

Finally, the physician would protect his own identity and restlessly attempt to clean up this spiritual pus despite the regressive moves of the patient.