Gambling can be viewed as a medical, moral, or cultural concern. From the cultural psychology perspective, the discussions about gambling can be regarded as part of social systems of meanings realized by means of social negotiation and legitimization. Scientists, media and family help centers play a major role in defining how the problem of gambling should be defined and addressed. This work provides an insight into the way the members of Gambler Anonymous (GA) self-help groups get acculturated to a view of gambling as disease, which on one hand imposes a lifelong, chronic illness on all its patients and on the other hand opens the door to the reconciliation with oneself and one’s own relatives. Three focus groups with GA’s members and their significant others in the southern region of Italy were conducted to explore representation about gambling, meaning of group membership and their relationship with it. A view of oneself as individual with a life-long disease is shared among the GA’ members. The medical template, although critical, counteracts a prior view of the gambler as a “vicious and irresponsible” man, failing to meet family and social obligations. Gamblers appear to be helpless in front of their physiological disorder, and thus, to be included, embraced and helped.
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