Springfield Hospital, 13:32 hours
Ah students, thanks for meeting me here. Our field studies portion, as you know, is one of the hardest credits to finish. I see that Jeremy hasn’t arrived.. well, let’s wish him luck in finding real data for his Psychology of Habitual Degeneration thesis. Susan? There you are. Go ahead and give us an update on why we are here.
“Certainly, Dr. Howard. So we are here at Springfield Hospital to inspect the patient known as #32-D, an example of extreme gambling addiction. He’s been in here since being released in early February. Just last month we positively identified him as THE Degenerate Gambl—”
Susan, it is important to keep our biases in check. 32D might ha—QUIET IN THE BACK! If I hear another Victoria’s Secret quip, I’ll fail the lot of you! Now, 32-DEE might have a reputation that you are familiar with, but we must approach this patient as we might any other. Go ahead, Susan.
“Patient 32D showed outward signs of extreme habitual degeneration, persistent failure to learn from even the most obvious of patterns, self-destructive tendencies, and an obsessive focus on sporting information.”
And not just any information, class. The NFL, a famous target for degener..—similar patients—is not a surprise fixation. What IS noteworthy is that this example only seemed to focus on one entity. The San Die-”
The Los Angeles Chargers. Thank you, Susan. While that in and of itself is a bit of a surprise, what is even more astounding is that we tracked this patient all around the country—Pittsburgh, Denver.
“And London, sir.”
Yes, even outside of the United States. While it is possible that outside elements were financing his degenerative habits, he seemed to have a driving impulse to be close to the action whenever possible. What separates this example from so many others, though, was this patient’s obsessive focus on the Chargers in particular.
“We originally tried a simple experiment—feeding the patient information on another entity, the AAF. No obsessive fixation, no degerative actions taken.”
We theorized that perhaps setting was a variable, so we fed information about the San Diego Fleet. No change.
“Baseball season did not bring any change in behavior at all. Even the Super Bo—”
I’m afraid that we can’t use any anecdotal information about the Super Bowl, Susan. We were not able to chart the patient at that time. Yes, it’s possible that even an LA-based team wasn’t enough to coax degenerative habits from the patient, but we must focus on what we’ve been able to chart directly. It appears that, after the Chargers finished their season, this patient simply.. entered a sort of torpid state.
“We found 32-D here in early February, but the patient has hardly moved during that time. He faces south-west and sighs periodically. Vital functions appear to indicate a sort of dormant state. It is as if he somehow bases his physical needs around the dopamine rush associated only with gambling related with one specific entity.”
You are well aware of my work showing that Mesolimbic dopamine, the chief neuromediator of incentive motivation, is indeed released to a larger extent in pathological gamblers than in healthy controls. I have also demonstrated that the resulting “rush” is not based necessarily on the anticipation of winning, but rather on the uncertainty of any reward at all. What is remarkable here is that, for the first time, we appear to have a physical correlation between body system activity and the expectation of Mesolimbic dopamine.
“He goes cold when it’s not Chargers season. Literally, his temperature is 69 degrees.”
I HEARD THAT, Mr. Fine! That’s it! This session is OVER! Go collect your own data without a primary source. Your work is due Monday regardless!
Beneath the door, a slip of paper is pushed into the Degenerate Gambler’s room.
-Jason “To be Continued” Michaels