ADDICTION CAN be defined as a persistent pattern of long-term self-defeating behaviors driven by delusional thinking about short-term benefits. A condition I would call “political addiction to gambling,’’ or PAG, fits that criterion.
Governor Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, and their political supporters seem to believe irrationally that more people losing more money is good economic and social public policy. The enabling gambling industry has spent millions of dollars on political donations, friendly researchers, lobbyists, and media consultants for the purpose of reinforcing this delusion.
PAG sufferers are in denial, incapable of thinking long term. Politically, they have been spun. Many think it’s OK to take money from gambling special interests (“National interests spending big on Beacon Hill to try to get edge,’’ Page A1, Aug. 25).
Ironically, many politicians advocate for programs designed to reduce alcoholism, smoking, recidivism, criminal behavior, youth gambling, domestic violence, bankruptcy, and individual debt while simultaneously promoting gambling, which would increase those problems. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance.
I commend the Globe for its recent articles on the economic, social, and political consequences of expanded gambling. It may bring some PAG sufferers to acknowledge their addiction. However, to really change their delusionary thinking they must conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis, which they have consistently refused to do.
The writer is a licensed psychologist.