Maureen O’Connor and her Ludomania

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Former San Diego mayor's Maureen O'ConnorIn February 2013, a former San Diego mayor’s soiled little secret grew to become public: she was hooked on playing. Maureen O’Connorwas so severely hooked on playing, in truth, that she spent 9 years and $1 billion {dollars} enjoying video poker and different video games at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic Metropolis, and her dwelling city, San Diego. On the finish of her $1 billion playing spree, O’Connor misplaced someplace round $13 million, though the precise quantity is troublesome to infer, based on federal prosecutors.

The previous mayor, who had amassed substantial wealth as a result of her late husband Robert Peterson’s Jack-in-the-Field quick meals empire, blames her out-of-control behavior and associated legal exercise on amind tumor for which she had surgical procedure in 2011. Her legal professional additionally claimed that her unlawful and outrageous behaviors have been brought on by a psychological phenomenon generally known as “grief playing“.

Prison Exercise

O’Connor’s downside might by no means have come to gentle if it weren’t for the truth that, along with wagering and shedding exorbitant quantities of her personal cash, she misappropriated cash that wasn’t really hers and used it for gaming functions (learn extra comparable tales). O’Connor admits to siphoning $2 million out of her late husband’s charity group, the R.P. Basis, to fund her behavior, though she claims that she at all times supposed to pay the cash again. O’Connor’s thefts drained her late husband’s basis, which as soon as helped serve native San Diego charities like hospices and orphanages. The R.P. Basis, now defunct, had been in operation since 1966.

Mind Tumor Blamed

O’Connor obtained surgical procedure for a mind tumor in 2011. She claims that the tumor negatively affected her judgment and conduct, inflicting her to gamble unwisely and commit the heinous crime of laundering charity cash.

Dr. Mark Norman, a UC San Diego professor of neuropsychiatry, has stated that though there isn’t a cut-and-dried correlation between mind tumors and playing, there generally is a correlation between mind tumors, impeded judgment, and dangerous behaviors. The unintended effects of a mind tumor enormously depend on the place the tumor is situated within the mind, how huge the tumor is, and whether or not the tumor may be safely eliminated with out damaging different delicate cognitive areas.

Additionally Cited: Grief Playing

Along with the mind tumor excuse, O’Connor’s legal professional blamed her crime, a minimum of partly, on a phenomenon known as “grief playing.” Grief playing is a type of downside playing. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism which happens when an individual who’s unable to course of grief turns to the on line casino or different money-wagering video games for consolation. O’Connor misplaced her husband, Peterson, in 1994 and a string of different family members after that. Her legal professional stated that the stress of her losses was so overwhelming that she turned to on line casino video games, as a substitute of more healthy coping mechanisms, to appease her emotional aches.

What’s Grief Playing?

Grief gambling (avoid dealing with unbearable pain)Grief playing is an actual psychological phenomenon that may occur to individuals who aren’t coping properly with losses. It usually happens in aged adults who’ve suffered extra losses than the typical youthful individual. It’s an avoidance tactic which permits an individual who has skilled loss to keep away from coping withinsufferable ache. Individuals deeply entrenched in grief playing are stated to be in denial of their issues.

This behavioral concern isn’t just a matter of an individual deciding to go to the on line casino and blow a bunch cash; it has a organic foundation. When individuals gamble and win, dopamine is launched inside the mind. Dopamine is a temper booster. Additionally it is a pure ache killer which, when stimulated inappropriately, can kind a brief band-aid over deeper issues. The syndrome of grief playing is very insidious as a result of gaming is a socially accepted pastime, one that’s not regulated by authorities and may even be finished inside the privateness of a house, in entrance of a pc display.

A Break in Character

Acquaintances of O’Connor gave character witness that she isn’t the kind of individual to commit such dishonest crimes. The previous mayor, typically known as a “goody two sneakers”, would reportedly turn into drunk on just some sips of champagne. Her biggest identified vice, earlier than this habit got here to gentle, was that in her stint as mayor she would sometimes escape Metropolis Corridor to observe films.

O’Connor’s Plea Deal

O’Connor pleaded not responsible in federal court docket to the crime of misappropriating funds from her late husband’s charity. She admitted to taking the cash, however blamed her missteps on the mind tumor and psychological grief playing, saying she was a sufferer of her circumstances. She added that she at all times supposed to pay the cash again to the inspiration, and nonetheless does.

In change for her plea, O’Connor’s closing judgment was deferred for 2 years. In the meanwhile, based on court docket paperwork, the 66-year-old should pay again the $2 million owed to the R.P. Basis and should additionally search remedy for her habit.

Critics: O’Connor Obtained a Gentle Punishment

Critics of the O’Connor plea deal say that common residents, those that are usually not former mayors or the surviving wives of rich enterprise tycoons, wouldn’t obtain such preferential remedy in a court docket of regulation. They are saying that theft is theft, and that O’Connor obtained a mushy sentence as a result of her identification. This argument has been used in opposition to different politicians and celebrities who commit crimes as properly; critics say the O’Connor story is simply one other occasion of a privileged individual being shielded from the realities of the actual world.

Sympathizers: O’Connor Deserves Compassion

O’Connor sympathizers would argue that the previous mayor was a sufferer of psychological trauma anddopamine habit, and that she ought to have the possibility to redeem herself earlier than going to jail. They’d say that O’Connor fell prey to the evils of habit and the ache of grief, and that she must be be rehabilitated despite the magnitude of economic loss she precipitated the R.P. Basis and the town of San Diego.

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