A Man with Fire

Defining Pyromania

Pyromania is an impulse control disorder in which the patients are unable to control their urge to start fires. Pyromania is like kleptomania in that the patients commit criminal activities out of impulse and not for any perceived gain. People feel a sense of gratification and relief after starting a fire.

This is very different from arson, which is mostly committed to achieve a financial/personal gain. Pyromaniacs usually set fire deliberately to induce euphoria, mostly evident right before the fire gets started. They feel excited and aroused watching the effect of the fire, watching it spread. When the fire is out they may become upset that the fire has burned out and have the desire to start another one to being back the thrill. Pyromania is common in people who struggle with personal issues and aggression. Additionally, some pyromaniacs start fires because they are fixated upon fire-fighting institutes and fire fighters, and they cause fires just to see these people in action.

There are a number of theories revolving around the psychological functioning behind such a fixation; however, there has been no consensus in the scientific community about it. Some other behavoral disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Kleptomania, Trichotillomania, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Pyromania

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Unsafe and risky indulgences like unprotected sex, rash driving etc.
  • Awareness of destructive behavior and feeling unable to change it
  • Massive mood swings
  • Short and intense periods of anxiety and stress
  • Domestic violence
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Feeling hopeless and often misunderstood
  • Self-hate and self-detestation

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of pyromania and other impulse control disorders is still not ascertained; however, scientists and researchers attribute the exact causes of to a combination of factors.

Genetics, by far, play the most pivotal role in causing such disorders. Genetic mutations can affect neurotransmitters in the brain that can inhibit the regular social functioning and prompt individuals to start fires.

Environmental factors also play an important role in activating the “fight or flight” mechanism of the human brain. It is during these instances of extreme stress and anxiety that the patient’s brain that may lead to the desire for thrill and excitement, leading to disorders like pyromania.

Neurobiology and general defects in the brain also cause abnormalities. Certain parts, especially those in the hypothalamus of the brain may get damaged due to a stressful encounter, a life threatening situation or an accident.

Patients of pyromania are exposed to many risks, including:

  • Criminal conviction on charges of arson
  • Social alleviation
  • Risk seeking behavior
  • Distress
  • Progression into complete mental imbalance


Because the exact causes of pyromania are unclear, the exact treatment alternatives are also hazy. However, there are a number of ways in which treatment can be administered based on documented case studies from the past. The intensity of the treatment is a function of the severity of the condition and the age of the patient.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most well recognized treatment for pyromania. CBT aims at making the user aware of his condition and the exact fallouts of his impulsive behavior. CBT is a step by step process in which the patient is exposed to his urges and urged to control his impulses. This conditions the patient’s mind to check his actions before he commits the act of lighting the fire.

Long term psychotherapy is also employed to treat pyromania. Patients of pyromania can also seek treatment in a professional treatment center. Treatment centers can also be helpful in helping patients overcome the symptoms and fallouts of withdrawal from their condition.

It is best to visit a rehabilitation facility for treatment of pyromania. It is important to contact the preferred center before checking in to make sure that they have the treatments offered for pyromania available.


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