Gambling is a Form of Catharsis

Aristotle, one of the most influential philosophers of the Classical age, once said that catharsis is "the attainment of insight through the powerful release of emotions." In the Poetics, his work concerning the definition of drama and tragedy, Aristotle mentions that any tragedy ought to allow a person to reach catharsis. He also states in this very important work of literary theory that the protagonist of any kind of tragedy must also experience a catharsis as well. The protagonist or "hero's" catharsis would, consequently, usually lead to the resolution of the conflict in the play.

Gambling may have few similarities with the experience of creating or being in the audience of a drama, but in a way, gambling can be a sort of catharsis. In the definition that Aristotle sets in his work, when a person attains catharsis, they also get an insight of some sort when they let out all of their pent-up or repressed emotions. However, these kinds of definitions can change over time, and today, a catharsis can be defined simply as the explosive release of powerful emotions.

Whether a person is gambling in the casino, at the race track, betting on sports, or even wagering informally, the activity will always involve a certain amount of risk. In gambling, a person will put something that they value -normally, this is money- at stake so that they have the chance of getting some with larger value. When a person gambles they are essentially making a guess and wagering money on whether or not their guess is correct. If they are correct, they stand to win back what they had staked, and more. If their guesses prove to be wrong, on the other hand, whatever they had wagered, they would essentially forfeit what they had wagered. This is true for any kind of gambling game, whether it is roulette, blackjack, craps, or poker.

When a person wins, a person will often feel a huge amount of relief and exhilaration when they realize that they will not be losing what they had wagered, and will also be winning something that may be exponentially more valuable. Winning in a gambling game can have a person soaring to immeasurable emotional heights. It is a huge release of emotion. This is also true for when a person loses. When a gambler suffers a loss, it can be greatly discouraging; it could even potentially drive a person to despair, especially if the stakes were high. Regardless of whether a gambler has won or lost, unless they really do not care at all about the results of their wager, a person will experience a range of emotions that could potentially lead them to true insight through catharsis.

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