They were part-time antique dealers in north Florida. I happened to be visiting their home on other business, but we began to talk about their antiques. A person could not move around in the house, it was so crammed full of furniture. The small warehouse out back looked the same. They apologized for the appearance and told this story. Business was good and bad. Antiques had flooded the market at ridiculously low prices. They were much cheaper to dealers, but the resale market was seriously depressed. The result was an overabundance of inventory. I asked about the cause and received an inside look at what gambling can do, not just to individuals, but also to an entire culture.
Casino gambling had recently been legalized in Mississippi, and casinos opened all along the state’s Gulf coast. Heirlooms that filled the homes of families for generations in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana were sold off at fire sale prices to fuel newly discovered gambling habits. These casinos darkened lives, shattering families, as sleepy, warm nights visiting on the front porches were now replaced with bright, flickering lights and unrealistic hopes. Family treasures, the antiques, were gone, but so much more had been lost. The individual and societal costs of gambling had ventured south. Another war was lost. For many, another period of reconstruction lay ahead.
Gambling provides an emotional rush. For some, it is an addiction as strong as any drug. It can be found not only at the casinos, but also online, or with a bookie, or by simply stopping by the Quick Mart for a scratch off or two on the way home from work. While many gamblers are adults who are lured into the temptations later, others begin as early as young adults in high school or college.
Everyone knows the odds. Everyone knows “the House” always wins. When one state began debating the feasibility of a state lottery, I saw a bumper sticker that stuck with me: “The Lottery – a tax on people that are bad at math.” And yet we still gamble. Why?
Even for a single recreational player, gambling provides the thrill of the moment, the chemical rush throughout the body, which keeps a gambler coming back to the tables. Sure, the hope of riches is what initially captures and then continuously fuels the behavior. The desire to escape the current reality will always motivate some people, but at “that moment,” it is that shot of hopeful adrenaline that drives those people back. Individuals become addicts when they lose all control. They act not out of pleasure alone, but out of compulsion, out of a need for a fix. Matters of finance, of family, or of job no longer take priority. An overwhelming instinct, originating deep within the person (which we know as the Middle Mind, or subconscious) is fully in control. The gambler may carry on a sensible debate with himself in the conscious mind, but he loses every time.
Hypnotherapy is key to stopping a gambling addiction. That compulsion cannot be controlled by willpower, discipline, rational thinking, or logical debate. Despite the time-consuming hours spent in talk therapy – counseling that can go on for months and years – trying to “think away” the habit, ultimately many will return to the habit.
Gambling is a subconscious habit. Of course, a gambler knows consciously what he is doing. However, as with all habits, he is simply observing his behavior rather than controlling his behavior. It is as if an animalistic instinct is driving him; and it is.
All habits originate in the Middle Mind. In the Middle Mind, all life experiences are warehoused, and the controls of many driving functions operate. We do not have to consciously think in order to walk; we just do it. Our hearts do not have to be told to beat; they just do it. These are necessary human functions operating in the subconscious. A problem occurs, however, when a harmful habit, like gambling, takes on the unconscious characteristics of an automatic function.
Hypnosis provides the only tool possible to reach into the Middle Mind effectively. It is the “bridge to the subconscious.” Hypnosis does not solve the problem in and of itself; it provides access to the client to reach into his or her own subconscious Middle Mind, and then, with the direction and assistance of a therapist, to alter behavior permanently. Once hypnosis provides the access into the Middle Mind, the hypnotic suggestions become the tools with which behavior can be changed. These precisely worded phrases and sentences become the natural ingredients that the client’s mind will use to make changes.
The main goal of hypnosis is to take the unconscious gambling habit and push it into the rational-thinking consciousness where odds and finances and family and work and other relevant factors will be logically analyzed so that a gambler can begin to make wise decisions. The gambler will use the Middle Mind to create new, calm control over the process. With hypnosis, gamblers will implement the suggestions to create aversions to the risks of gambling and to develop positive thoughts of a life under control, thus pushing out the false highs of the gambling rush. Now conscious will power and discipline will appear automatically, working for the client’s well-being.
Hypnotherapy is the only process that offers the opportunity to rapidly change behavior this way, a way that produces permanent change, free from destructive habits.