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Up the ante

A psychiatrist who treats problem gamblers

  • By: Stephen Ginn
  • Published: 17 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e2763
  • Cite this as: BMJ 2012;20:e2763

I first decided to become a psychiatrist when I was seven. Everyone laughs at the reason. I was an avid reader of the Peanuts cartoons; a character called Lucy has a stall with a sign that says “The psychiatrist is in” and the other characters go and ask for advice on how to sort out their problems. She was my role model, as she was energetic and optimistic.

During my childhood in Italy there was an epidemic of heroin addiction among the middle class population. The question of what would drive someone to destroy their life with drugs or alcohol was one of the early drivers for my interest in addiction psychiatry.

There isn’t really a “typical” patient, but many of our patients start gambling when they are very young; they often report starting around the age of eight or nine. This could be playing cards with grandparents or being

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