Dostoevsky and Freud: Autonomy and addiction in gambling

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In this paper the modern ideal of "autonomous" or "pure" gambling is put forward in an analysis of Dostoevsky's gambling behavior, his novel The Gambler (1866) and Freud's psychoanalysis of Dostoevsky. The significance of The Gambler lies in the way conceptions of gambling are related to the social conditions of gamblers. Furthermore, the author demonstrates that Dostoevsky and Freud express contradictory views on gambling addiction. While Dostoevsky primarily appreciated roulette as a means of making money, Freud mistakenly interpreted this as a "pathological passion". In different ways, however, both approaches toward excessive gambling presuppose and reinforce "gambling-for-its-own-sake" - Le jeu pour le jeu.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12086
Pages (from-to)891-917
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Historical Sociology
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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