The complexity of human mind has always been a mystery to mankind and the curiosity of unraveling this intricate mind has ultimately led to many discoveries which have opened up different mental conditions to the world and have explained the suffering of patients. One of the most intriguing chapter of mental ailment, in the history of psychology is “pyromania”. This is a certain condition in which its patient has the urge to satisfy and attain euphoria by lighting fire. This fire setting trend ultimately can make the situation very dangerous, and ultimately harming them and the people around.
The patient always enjoys his fire consuming and withering things away, and the fact of the matter that the patient has not advocated the fire for profit, for a personal agenda, in hallucination or to express anger or resentment and would be a spectator of his own fire, makes this disorder very fascinating from a psychological point of view, but it is highly unsafe for people suffering from it. ‘The diagnostics and statistical manual of mental disorder’, better known as DSM has made a six point criteria for people to be labeled as pyromaniacs (Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders):
1) The patient has undergone his act of setting up file deliberately more than once
2) The patients shows high amount of interest and fascination for fire and has a very high amount of curiosity with the use of it.
3) Before setting fires, the patient normally undergoes amount of tension
4) Patients motives are neither personal, nor financial, nor can they be considered for any kind of substance abuse
5) Patient attains certain amount of arousal after setting fires.
6) Patient cannot be held accounted for an anti-social personality disorder, or any disorder of similar sort.
Pyromaniacs were first thought of as morally gone waste. From 1840-1890, pyromania was brought under monomania and was also labeled to be instinctive mania. In this time, pyromaniac’s situation was not understood and they came under non medical criminals. Many of the victims of this disease were send to prisons without even understand their problem. It was only between 1924 and 1957, that this predicament was started to be understood and was put in as a disease entity rather than an immoral act (Geller JL, Erlen J, Pinkus RL)
Pyromania is actually a rare disorder, but when demographically compared, it is much higher in men than women. This predicament is also found to be very low in adults and researchers have come to a conclusion, it is more of a children’s disorder, but can be found in an adult too, how much ever rare it might be. It has also been studies that children who normally into fire setting can have a good chance of turning into more vicious crimes, which include rape and murder. It has always been seen that pyromaniacs have major problems in learning and can suffer with learning disabilities along with child enuresis. There is also high percentage chance that these kids would be cruel to animals and would have destructive mentality.
Pyromania should be dealt with utmost precaution and care and the patients should be given patient counseling sessions. It is still curable if this disease is contracted by children, but counseling to adult becomes very difficult as the person would be highly obstinate. Adult pyromaniacs are put on long term medication and have to undergo a very long time of psychological counseling. When it comes to children, firstly the backgrounds are checked, as many of the children indulge into this fire setting behavior due to inhabiting homes where there is a lot of pandemonium. The therapy for children suffering from the ailment, is tackled with utmost care and counselors after attain complete information of their homes start a constructive dialogue with child along with their parents.
There is no basic approach to this problem, as this being a dangerous disorder; it has to be tackled with lot of dexterity especially when it comes to children. Psychologists use different kinds of techniques which are normally different for every child which is based on there varied aggression. Special counseling is done for matters relating to anger management and all matters related from a emotional point of view are very sensitively tackled for the child to eventually lose his appetite and his satisfaction of lighting fires.
One of the best preventive measure for this disorder is to start giving young children fire safety information and make them understand that its hazards. This disorder has to be treated with the utmost amount of care, since these people are low on social skills and leaning skills, also their excitement of watching fire or even hear fire alarms after starting fires, puts them on a high, which eventually makes them lose their responsibility of destroying someone else’s property or even life for that matter.
- Encyclopedia of mental disorders, “pyromania”, http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Pyromania.html
- Geller JL, Erlen J, Pinkus RL, “A historical appraisal of America’s experience with “pyromania”–a diagnosis in search of a disorder”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3542858?dopt=Abstract