• Corpus ID: 27026192

Firesetting, arson, pyromania, and the forensic mental health expert.

  title={Firesetting, arson, pyromania, and the forensic mental health expert.},
  author={Paul R S Burton and Dale E. Mcniel and Ren{\'e}e L. Binder},
  journal={The journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law},
  volume={40 3},
Firesetting is a common behavior that is frequently encountered by forensic mental health experts when consulting on criminal and civil legal cases. Despite its prevalence, minimal attention has been paid in the literature to conducting firesetting-related forensic evaluations. In this article, we discuss the differences in the behavior of firesetting, the crime of arson, and the diagnosis of pyromania. The literature on adult firesetter characteristics, classification systems, recidivism, and… 

Tables from this paper

A Look at Firesetting, Arson, and Pyromania

  • G. Palermo
  • Psychology
    International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology
  • 2015
Psychiatric forensic entities that crystallize around fire are firesetting, arson, and pyromania. Even though they are distinct from one another, frequently, the terms are used interchangeably.

Firesetting Behavior and Associated Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders

IntroductionFiresetting is an often overlooked problem that is completed by youth as well as adults and results in serious damage to lives as well as property. Firesetting has been linked to a number

Firesetting Patterns, Symptoms and Motivations of Insanity Acquittees Charged with Arson Offences

The relationship between mental illness and firesetting remains poorly understood, with limited guidance available for clinicians required to assess mentally ill firesetters. The aim of this study

Psychotic versus non-psychotic firesetters: similarities and differences in characteristics

Results showed that psychotic firesetters were older, single and unemployed, and had a more extensive history of mental health problems, associated drug use and impaired self-reliance than non-psychotic offenders, which may contribute to treatment efficacy and prevention of recidivism.

The observation of mental disorder and dangerousness in arsonists: a contemporary appraisal of changes in Dutch forensic mental health cases

It is concluded that mental disorder was of greater influence on the conclusion on accountability in the first time period, whilst dangerousness played a more important role on the forensic mental health recommendation in the later time period.

Firesetting among People with Mental Disorders: Differences in Diagnosis, Motives and Behaviour

Abstract Despite the prevalence of mental disorder among firesetters, there is limited empirical research on how firesetting manifests in people with different psychiatric conditions. In this study,

Cognitive inflexibility in a young woman with pyromania

  • Austin W. BlumB. OdlaugJ. Grant
  • Psychology, Medicine
    Journal of behavioral addictions
  • 2018
The results suggest that pyromania may have features of compulsivity as well, and is relatively understudied from a neurobiological perspective.

Firesetting Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders

The strong correlation between psychiatric comorbidities and frresetting behavior illustrates the need for frre service and mental health collaboration.

Risk factors for arson recidivism in adult offenders

This thesis explores risk factors for recidivistic arson in adult offenders. Chapter one provides an introduction to the characteristics of adult firesetters and theoretical approaches to

Subtypes of firesetters

A five-cluster solution with five subtypes of firesetters partially validates the proposed M-TTAF trajectories and suggests that for offenders with and without mental disorder, this classification may be useful.



Psychiatric aspects of arsonists.

Almost 90% of arsonists had recorded mental health histories, and of those 36% had the major mental illness of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and 64% were abusing alcohol or drugs at the time of their firesetting.

'Kindling theory' in arson: how dangerous are firesetters?

  • A. Brett
  • Psychology
    The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry
  • 2004
The empirical literature cannot support the hypothesis that firesetters are inherently dangerous, and more research should target different groups of firesetter and examining individual risk within that group with an aim of researching treatment for the different groups.

Looking for pyromania: Characteristics of a consecutive sample of Finnish male criminals with histories of recidivist fire-setting between 1973 and 1993

Using the criteria of the DSM-IV-TR, pyromania must be regarded as an extremely rare phenomenon and the question of substance intoxication as an exclusion criterion for pyromanias should be reconsidered.


The authors conclude that the professions of psychiatry, law enforcement and fire fighting/investigation must have better source material available to them and must share information better if the authors are to decrease the threats posed by the ineffectual differentiation of the causes of serial arson.

Predicting the Recidivism of Mentally Disordered Firesetters

The psychiatric literature has asserted that arsonists are a particularly dangerous group of mentally disordered offenders with a high likelihood of setting further fires, yet the scant empirical

The mental state of arsonists as determined by forensic psychiatric examinations.

In this study we evaluated whether arsonists (n = 98) differ from homicide offenders (n = 55) in regard to psychiatric disorders, suicidality, and criminal responsibility in the context of forensic

Firesetting in the adult psychiatric population.

  • J. Geller
  • Psychology, Medicine
    Hospital & community psychiatry
  • 1987
The author presents six case examples that illustrate the association of firesetting behavior with schizophrenic, affective, and personality disorders as well as with alcohol abuse and mental retardation.

Pathological firesetting in adults.

  • J. Geller
  • Psychology, Medicine
    International journal of law and psychiatry
  • 1992

Criminal and psychiatric histories of Finnish arsonists

Among arsonists, lifetime criminal recidivism was primarily associated with alcohol dependence and antisocial personality disorder, and Psychosis was a common diagnosis among subjects who had no record of recidivist criminal offences.

Response of pyromania to biological treatment in a homeless person

Psychopharmacological treatment may have facilitated improvement in cognitive test performance, social-adaptive functioning, and decreased aggressive behavior in a 20-year-old homeless male who met DSM-IV criteria for pyromania.