The “Zone”: a Qualitative Exploratory Study of an Altered State of Awareness in Electronic Gaming Machine Problem Gambling

Jane Oakes, Renee Pols, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper reports a state of mind described by electronic gaming machine (EGM) problem gamblers (PGs) as the “zone”. Twenty-nine PGs engaged in focus groups and in-depth interviews. Participants described an altered state of awareness: the zone, which was highly desirable providing relief from negative emotions. PGs had difficulty recalling experiences whilst in the zone but described a constriction of attention, awareness and impairment of cognitive functions. During this time, the PG could not think critically, exercise self-observation, realistically appraise the use of money, see the consequences of their actions, exercise the will to cease gambling or learn from harms. Memory was impaired, as was decision-making and the capacity to make rational choices. Understanding the zone may provide insight into treatment where the capacity to learn may be reduced. Further research is needed to determine what proportions of EGM gamblers experience the zone and if this occurs with non-EGM gamblers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-194
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Altered state of awareness
  • Dissociation
  • Electronic gaming machine
  • Harm
  • Problem gambling
  • Qualitative
  • Relapse
  • Structural characteristics
  • Zone

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