Pyromania(Causes, Symptoms & Potential Treatments)

Pyromania


This article is a detailed discussion on the topic of pyromania and answers all the answers related to it. Also, this article reveals all the symptoms, diagnosis and cure which could be followed for the treatment of these diseases.

Pyromania

According to a recent study, pyromania is a rare condition and only found in three to six percent of the population, globally. People who take an excessive interest to ignite a fire in unhealthy ways may be suffering from Pyromania.

There are multiple misconceptions regarding this condition as people often named an arsonist person as a pyromaniac. However, pyromania is referred to as a psychiatric condition whereas arson is considered as a crime or criminal act.  

Pyromania: What does DSM-5 Say?

According to APA, pyromania falls under DSM-5 where a person is unable to control or distract himself to have destructive thoughts in his mind. In addition, people who have crossed 18 years of age, having disabilities to socialize are more likely at risk. 

Furthermore, males are found suffering from pyromania more as compared to women and children. Those who are suspected to have pyromania must be observed for the symptoms enlisted below:

  • Set fire purposefully on more than 1 occasion.
  • Those who have experience tension in his or her mind and a release after setting it. 
  • Those who are attracted to fire intensely and its paraphernalia.
  • Those who feel delighted in watching or igniting the fire.
  • Those who have other symptoms that are not explained for example; conduct disorder, manic disorder, antisocial personality disorder. 

DSM-5 have a strict criterion for pyromania which is why it is rarely diagnosed, therefore; a person will be called a pyromaniac only if he performs certain action instead of not igniting fire occasionally and these are;

  • To gain money or for certain ideological goals or opinions,
  • To reveal his or her anger or to take revenge from anyone,
  • To hide another criminal act,
  • For other purposes that may involve burning a house and taking money for that,
  • In response to and as the reaction of delusions and hallucinations,
  • Because of disabled or unstable judgment or cognitive functioning.
Pyromania

Pyromania and Arson: Are They Different?

Pyromania and Arson are both different things. Arson is referred to as a criminal act whereas, pyromania is a severe mental illness. Basically, it is a psychiatric condition without having control of impulse. These conditions; pyromania and arson are deliberately done. 

Pyromania is a compulsive disorder whereas, arson might not be a compulsive disorder. Pyromania can be found in an arsonist however, many of the arsonists are not diagnosed for being a pyromaniac. Likewise, a person who is suffering from pyromania can be arsenic sometimes or ignites a fire but not in a criminal way. 

Prevalence in General Population

The exact cause of the pyromania (that may be classified as an impulse control disorder) is unknown but there are many assumptions that are said to be the possible causes. Undoubtedly, the symptom profile of pyromania is strongly linked with psychiatric conditions and mental illness and it can be induced by substance misuse, personality disorders or mood disorders. 

As it is a rare condition which is more often found in children and males, than in females; there are not so many academic pieces of literature which explains this problem, its cause, and its treatment in detail. 

Juvenile or Child Pyromaniac 

A child is said to suffering or having an impulse control disorder and having a sense of satisfaction when watching the fire. Also, in many cases, it is observed that a child feels tensed or stressed before setting up the fire however the feeling changes to a sense of relief after that. It is a very rare disorder that is found in children. 

Most children are diagnosed with a conduct condition rather than being a pyromaniac. There could be no motive behind igniting the fire but it could be repetitive. This type of disorder is actually very rare and is found between 3 to 6 percent of the population, male predominantly. 

According to the research, 90 percent of the population who are diagnosed with pyromania are male. These people are mentally ill and are responsible for igniting a fire for about fourteen percent. 

General Symptom Profile of Pyromaniac

Pyromania is often linked with impulse control disorder and some behavioral conditions, according to previously conducted researches and academic literature. In addition, some of the researchers concluded that pyromania seems to have genetically inherited aspects as well. Some common symptoms of pyromania are listed below:

  • These individuals tend to show attraction towards the fire,
  • They also often have an unnecessary number of lighters or matchsticks or resources which could ignite a fire in their collectibles,
  • You would spot them making holes in rugs or fabric through the fire, this also hints towards their over obsession towards the fire,
  • You may often find burnt pieces of papers in their sink, cans, dustbins or near the sink and stove,
  • Generally, you would find them chirpy and happy while watching fires in real-life settings, television or other media. Some pyromaniacs are avid watchers and seek happiness in watching the fire. In some cases, the person who is suffering from pyromania adopts firefighting as a profession as they seek happiness in this activity. 
  • They may also depict symptoms related to anxiety when starting a fire. According to some research, a person may experience some emotions like stress, guilt or it can be a feeling of happiness when starting a fire and they are evenly distressed when they are done.
  • They also appear as a comorbid condition and its symptoms might appear linked with different mental illnesses, such as depression, mood disorder, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, and substance use disorder. 
Pyromania

Symptom Profile of Pyromania in Children

Following are the diagnostic aspects related to Pyromania in DSM-5 for the children to ascertain if he or she is suffering from the ailment or not:

  • The child ignites the fire purposely on more than one occasion, 
  • The child is aroused before igniting the fire,
  • The child is attracted to fire or attracted to the things related to fire,
  • The child is relaxed after she ignites the fire,
  • There is no motive, for example, money or revenge for igniting a fire.

Potential Causes of Pyromania

There are a number of causes but not limited to which is related to pyromania however the exact reason is still undetectable as there are limited research studies available on the topic. The factors that may trigger the pyromania can be individual or environmental. Some of the causes related to individual and environmental factors are listed below; 

Individual factors

There are various ‘individual’ factors that contribute towards the psychopathological presentation of ‘pyromania’; some of these are enlisted below:

  • The child showcases an antisocial attitude. The child if feels lonely commits multiple numbers of crimes and offenses including anger or any violent activity. Keep a keen on the child’s activity. 
  • Some children because of their boredom are attracted to the fire and feel happy watching it. Do not leave your child alone and performs some activities with him for example; ask him to play board games, take him out for a walk, discuss his school activities and friends, tell them interesting stories and just be with them. 
  • They might be an attention seeker as igniting fire can bring back adult attention. Also, the children might lack social skills or are not well taught about socializing. Simply they could be a loner. 
  • Children who suffer pyromania might not be taught safety and risk related to the fire and its ignition. This is natural curiosity and a sense of diversion for the children. Educate your child. 
  • They might be having learning difficulties.
  • Parents might be separated and thus the child innocent mind is affected.
  • They might be abused sexually or may have been maltreated at a vulnerable age, which has badly affected their brains

Environmental factors 

Below are some of the environmental factors that potentially contribute to the development of pyromania in children:

  • The child is poorly supervised by the parents or guardians. Pay attention to the upbringing of your child as it can destroy their innocent brains.
  • The children follow their adults. The child might be seeing the same behavior in adults like playing with fire in an inappropriate manner since their childhood. 
  • The children can suffer from impulse disorder when they are neglected by the parents. Listen to your child when he calls you. Pay attention to every nitty-gritty detail as they are growing and require your guidance in every step. Do not fail to care about anything or activity associated with your child.
  • The child is prone to suffer from pyromania if his parents are a drug abuser or act violently in the house. They might have suffered or bear stressful life events that might have triggered pyromania in them.
  • They could be in peer pressure and are compared with other kids on a regular basis.
Pyromania

Treatment Options for Pyromania 

There is a high risk of damage to property, injuries and deaths therefore it is of utmost importance to seek treatment and cure for the illness. The pyromania occurs in childhood and proceeds to adulthood therefore it is important to note the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible. Below are some of the treatment procedures that could be applied to pyromaniac patients.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This could be the main way to treat pyromania. The treatment is to pay attention to the attitude and feelings that are developed, and figures out the desire to perform such activities linked with pyromania along with comprehending the effects. It also focuses on finding new ways to cure and release their feelings. Other therapies that could be used in treating or managing pyromania are listed below

  • Aversion therapy may also be employed for managing the psychopathology in Pyromania,
  • A person who is suffering from pyromania could be prescribed antidepressants like SSRIs, anxiolytics (to manage the level of anxiety that they may be experiencing), anti-epileptics, atypical antipsychotics (to manage case presentations with delusional or hallucinatory symptoms), anti-androgens or lithium salt. 

As a word of caution, it should be noted that these treatments or medications must be clinically administered by trained health professionals. Moreover, the mentioned classes of medicine are not over-the-counter drugs and must never be self-administered; they should always be taken in consultation with a certified clinical practitioner. 

Some Helpful Resources

  1. You can start journaling, there is a nice journal for people struggling with Pyromania with the title of “I’m Glad: The Pyromania Addiction and Recovery Writing Notebook”. 
  2. There is a book entitled, “Children and Teenagers who Set Fire” that aims to help the parents or guardians in understanding the firesetting behavior and its root causes. The book also offers helpful strategies. 
  3. Reading “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple: 10 Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Panic, and Worry” would also offer great insight into how to resolve this problem.
  4. Another book, entitled, “Pyromania, Kleptomania, and Other Impulse-Control Disorder (Diseases and People)” offers specific details about the psychopathological aspects of this ailment. 
  5. The book entitled, “Impulse-Control Disorders (The State of Mental Illness and Its Therapy)” is also great in offering an understanding and way to manage this disorder.

However, the resources listed above are only to guide and provide information. As a rule of thumb, you must always seek professional help from trained experts. 

Conclusion

The pyromaniac patient might have a desire to ignite the fire without having any motive. There are several reasons that could trigger the condition but the actual reason is still unidentified because of the availability of less literature. 

Juvenile pyromania refers to the situation to the kids who are having the feeling to ignite a fire. The factors that could be the cause of pyromania in children are individual and environmental which could be avoided if paid attention. The male is likely to suffer from this impulse disorder as compared to women. 

If symptoms are found the person should seek medical treatment immediately so that further mishaps can be avoided. 

To sum up the topic, pyromania (a rare condition) is a mental illness and is diagnosed when met the specific criteria outlined in DSM 5. Moreover, there is only 3 to 6 percent of the population which tend to suffer from the pyromania. Most importantly, immediate treatment is very important because the person who is suffering from Pyromania may inflict harm on herself/himself, can be the cause of death of others or destroy things like property. Therefore, it is important to note that ‘Pyromania’ is curable if sought treatment promptly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the population prevalence of Pyromania?

About 3 to 6 percent of the population is suffering from pyromania that is a concerning statistic, given the severity of pathology present in this ailment. 

Which gender is most likely to be affected with pyromania?

Usually, pyromania is most commonly reported in ‘males’. However, it is not absolutely non-existent in females either. 

Is it easily detectable?

Yes and No. There is no one-word answer for this because symptoms of pyromania may compound over time. However, with careful professional assessment it can be diagnosed. Pyromania falls under DSM-5 and if matches with certain criteria will only the disease be detected. 

What is juvenile pyromania?

Juvenile pyromania is a condition that refers to the impulsive disorder found in a child. 

Is Pyromania curable?

Yes, it is treatable through planned and consistent psychotherapeutic interventions. Usually, Cognitive Behavioral therapy is administered to patients who are suffering from pyromania which is only effective if the illness is treated immediately

Are pyromania and arson different from each other?

Yes, they are totally different from each other as in pyromania there is no motive behind igniting fire whereas, arson is a criminal offense. 

Can Pyromania be cured?

There is no official or specific cure for Pyromania but with treatment, symptoms can go into remission. It has been proposed that several types of medicine and conditioning techniques can help treat Pyromania. However, some researchers indicate that individuals whose pyromania goes into remission often engage in other compulsive behavior such as gambling or substance abuse.

References:

  1. An overview of Pyromania
  2. What is Pyromania
  3. Is Pyromania Diagnosable? What does the research say?
  4. Learn all about Pyromania
  5. Pyromania: Causes and Treatment
  6. Learn all about Pyromania: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
  7. Fire Setting and Impulse Control Disorder of Pyromania

Pyromania(Causes, Symptoms & Potential Treatments)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.