Basics
July 20, 2020

Jem Fundano

Pyromania: Playing With Fire

WHAT IS PYROMANIA?

Pyromania is a mental disorder that features intentional and repetitive activities that include playing with fire. Whenever male or female pyromaniacs light something up, they say that they can't control it.

Whenever they light things up, burn things, or play with fire, they feel a sudden rush and feel relief if they see something on fire.

Behavioral health professionals classify pyromania disorder under a cluster group of disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders.

PYROMANIA AND ARSON

Male or female pyromaniacs are usually mistaken as arsonists but there's a difference between the two.

Pyromania disorder symptoms are rare and pathological. Every idea to ignite a fire or burn something is centered on the individual's feelings not an intent to harm. Arson is done with an intent to harm or for monetary gain. (1)

When someone is diagnosed with pyromania, such act is done to alleviate anxious feelings or to feel a rush.

THE PYROMANIA DISORDER SYMPTOMS

One way to define pyromania disorder is to distinguish the pyromania disorder symptoms. Here are the following symptoms that is commonly found in adolescents and adults who are diagnosed with pyromania disorder.

  • Having an intense curiosity, interest, or fascination to fire or any material that create fire (matches, lighters, burners, lamps, etc.)
  • Spending time in places where fires are regularly engaged. Male or female pyromaniacs may be a firefighter or scientists.
  • Experiencing relief or a rush when a fire is started, if a fire is witnessed, or there's a rush in participating with the aftermath of one.
  • Consistent compulsive attraction to fire or to create fire
  • The desire for lighting up things is not because of a desire for monetary gain or isn't incorporated with an intent to harm.

Pyromania disorder symptoms appear in both male and female pyromaniacs. Individuals found to be diagnosed with pyromania disorder also suffer with certain mood disorders or other conduct disorders.

CAUSES OF PYROMANIA

The pyromania disorder symptoms and its development cannot be narrowed into a single cause.

Since pyromania is a rare mental disorder, only few studies were done. As researchers evaluated individuals in the criminal database who were repeat fire-setting offenders, only 3.3% of the specific population were diagnosed with pyromania.

Psychologists were able to narrow down that individuals with a family history of conduct disorders, antisocial personality disorder, and substance use disorder are more likely to be diagnosed with pyromania.

It has also been studied that individuals with pyromania develop in individuals who grew up in a crime-filled environment, had an sexually or physically abusive childhood, or suffered neglect.

Sources:

(1) Burton PRS, McNiel DE, Binder RL: Firesetting, arson, pyromania, and the forensic mental health expert. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 2012; 40:355–365 Google Scholar

(2) Lambie I, Ioane J, Randell I, et al.: Offending behaviours of child and adolescent firesetters over a 10-year follow-up. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2013; 54:12 Crossref, Google Scholar

(3) Root C, MacKay S, Henderson J, et al.: The link between maltreatment and juvenile firesetting: correlates and underlying mechanisms. Child Abuse Neglect 2008; 32:161–176 Crossref, Google Scholar

(4) Doley, Rebekah: Pyromania: Fact or Fiction?. Centre for Crime and Justice Studies 2003; 43:797-807 The British Journal of Criminology

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