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Pyromania is a psychological disorder in which the person tends to start fires, by feeling pleasure and satisfaction in the process of preparing the fire or by observing the results and damage caused by the fire. In addition, there are still people who like to set fire to watch all the confusion of firefighters and inhabitants trying to fight the flames.
Although this disorder is more common in children and adolescents, to get parents' attention or to rebel, it can also happen in adulthood. However, while young people usually make small fires at home, adults need stronger emotions, and can catch fire at home or in the woods and result in a disaster.
To be considered pyromaniac, the pyromaniac must not have any intention such as financial gain or a need to hide criminal activity, for example. In these cases, the process of setting fire is just considered a criminal action, without any psychological disorder.
In most cases it is quite difficult to identify a pyromaniac, but the most frequent sign is when the person is constantly related to fires with no specific cause, even if they deny any involvement or appear to be only present to help. In addition, someone with pyromania is also prone to:
- Walking constantly depressed;
- Create conflicts with people close to you;
- Show easy irritability.
Fires usually erupt during periods of great stress, such as job loss, separation or death of a family member, for example.
What causes pyromania
Pyromania is a very complex disorder and, therefore, its causes are not yet known. However, there are some factors that seem to contribute to the development of pyromania, such as lacking social skills, needing frequent attention, or not having parental supervision during childhood.
How to confirm the diagnosis
Since it is difficult to identify symptoms in a pyromaniac, the doctor may also have difficulty identifying the disorder, especially if the person does not ask for help.
However, to be considered pyromania some criteria must exist, which include:
- Knowing fires on more than one occasion;
- Feeling emotional stress or tension before starting the fire;
- Show fascination or curiosity about anything that involves fire, such as firefighter equipment and the destruction it causes;
- Feeling relief or pleasure after setting the fire or after observing the results;
- Having no other reason to start the fire, such as earning home insurance money or hiding a crime.
During the diagnosis attempt, the doctor may also suggest other disorders with similar symptoms such as Borderline personality, schizophrenia or antisocial personality.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for pyromania should be appropriate for each person, according to the factors that may be involved in the development of the disorder. Thus, to start treatment, it is advisable to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist to interview the person and the family, in order to understand what may be at the root of the problem.
Then, the treatment is done with psychotherapy sessions that help the person to fight the problem that is at the base of the pyromania, allowing to identify other safer and he althier ways to release the accumulated stress.
Typically, treatment is easier for children than adults, so in addition to psychotherapy, adults may also need to take antidepressants, such as Citalopram or Fluoxetine, to lessen symptoms and prevent the uncontrollable urge to set fire.