Daring to Play Oneself

Gambling, Psychoanalysis and Practical Self-determination





practical self-determination, personal identity, psychoanalysis, daring, critical methodology, interdisciplinarity


The critical intention of this article does not focus on a comprehensive socio-cultural evaluation of gambling. Rather, its perspective is guided towards ways of picturing gambling and the subject of the gambler in different theoretical contexts. It is argued that one might expand philosophical conceptions of practical self-determination by taking an interdisciplinary look at gambling. However, such an attempt runs into the danger of painting an overly simplistic picture of self-control as self-continence, which can be found in theoretical approaches pathologizing the gambler. In order to avoid such an outcome, an interdisciplinary analogy combining psychoanalytical and philosophical thought is presented. This analogy brings together the perspectives of the analysand and the gambler. By confronting these scenarios of human agency, it is shown that practical self-determination depends on instances of daring that can be related to certain gambling practices, too. The interdisciplinary view on gambling highlights its potentials for self-exploration, without neglecting the fact that an appropriate realization of such a self-exploration requires experiential and interpersonal conditions that often collide with the harsh reality of gambling practices.

Author Biography

Judith-Frederike Popp, University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt

2018: PhD in philosophy with a thesis about irrationality in philosophical theory and psychoanalytic practice at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main (supervisors: Martin Seel and Axel Honneth); Since 2018: post-doc research assistant (Faculty of Design, University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, Germany); 2020-2021: international post-doc research fellow at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; recent publications: Irrationalität als Wagnis (2019, Velbrück publishers); “Vom Schauen und Erschaffen, vom Nutzen und Entwerfen”, in: Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, 65/2 (2020); Aufklärung durch Gestaltung in digitalen Umwelten (2021, Springer publishers, with Christian Bauer and Gerhard Schweppenhäuser); “Theory and Practice of Self-reflection, Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory and Psychoanalytical Thought”, in: S. Gandesha/J. Hartle/S. Marino (eds.): The “Aging” of Adorno's Aesthetic Theory: Fifty Years Later, Mimesis International 2021; „Die Kunst der Vermittlung. Offenes als ästhetisches Denken bei Bernhard Waldenfels“, in: Barbara Schellhammer (ed.): Zwischen Phänomenologie und Psychoanalyse. Im interdisziplinären Gespräch mit Bernhard Waldenfels, Baden-Baden 2021.




How to Cite

Popp, J.-F. (2022). Daring to Play Oneself: Gambling, Psychoanalysis and Practical Self-determination. Critical Gambling Studies, 3(2), 135–144. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs36