Every summer new fires break out, the cause of which is subsequently identified as being criminal, but the profile behind the concept of arsonist seems complex and very often confused with that of arsonist. Today we offer you a brief overview of things to know about the psychology of these personalities and to understand a little more about their character traits.
1. What does pyromania mean?
What is called pyromania represents a powerful fascination with fire that has several degrees of intensity. Contrary to popular belief, someone who is an arsonist may very well never have lit a fire and never do so, he will just be fascinated by this element. In other people this symptom can be added to different psychiatric disorders and push the individual to launch premeditated fires to become what is called an arsonist, two definitions that must be differentiated.
2. A tiny part of the population affected by this psychological disorder
According to studies, less than 1% of the population would be affected by pyromania, which is therefore extremely rare. Within this very small part of the population, only 14% would be at the origin of arson, which therefore leaves a large majority of arsonists who are not affected by pyromania, an arsonist is not necessarily an arsonist and the opposite is just as true.
3. A predominantly male phenomenon
According to another study, 90% of arsonists are men, which can therefore be defined as a large majority. We find people with pyromania in different social classes but we have studied several professions with a prevalence for pyromania: notaries, teachers, professors and obviously firefighters.
4. For some it represents a cathartic and sexual disorder
The fascination of fire among arsonists can take many forms and make you feel many things. For some it is something cathartic, which allows them to satisfy an impulse to relieve themselves of a nervous problem by lighting a fire.
In others it is an almost sexual need, the vision or the fact of lighting a fire has an effect close to orgasm and satisfies an impulse or a need. Others see the fire as a purification, a way to sanitize something or to fulfill oneself in a form of redemption.
5. For others it is simply a means of doing evil
Many types of arsonists exist, but for one category of them the goal is indeed to harm others. For some there is a form of revenge against society, a need to do harm in order to exist and get justice or draw attention to oneself in order to exist. A final category represents those who simply want to kill or do harm, people suffering from antisocial behavior or megalomania who are more generally described as psychopaths.
6. Arsonist firefighter syndrome
The principle of arsonist firefighter or, more precisely, of arsonist “savior” (because they are not always firefighters or volunteer firefighters) affects some of the arsonists who start fires to help those affected. Their goal is therefore to look like heroes and commendable people when they themselves are at the origin of the situation.
There is therefore a double reward, two pleasures: that of lighting the fire and also of being rewarded for having helped the victims. For some we can add a third enjoyment: that of not being caught, of having deceived everyone and of feeling more intelligent, a trait found in serial killers.
7. Very different treatments depending on the profiles
Signs of pyromania can be spotted quite early in some children, so the disorder can be treated quickly with behavioral therapy or cognitive therapy, for example. In other people, drug treatments can be added to the therapy, but this depends on several factors: the patient’s age, the intensity of his pyromania, if he has other behavioral or psychiatric disorders and if he he has already committed an incendiary crime.
8. Extremely serious criminal penalties
It is very rare that an arsonist is not declared guilty of his act, there must be a serious psychiatric disorder alongside the pyromania for his crime to be qualified as involuntary. The penalties can extend quickly depending on the damage caused, a fine between 150 and 200,000 euros can be incurred but also prison sentences which can go up to 15 years in prison for forest fires (premeditated or accidental by negligence) or life if there are victims.
9. There are even pyromaniac birds
You can’t necessarily accuse them of doing this for fun, but three species of raptors found in Australia spread fires to scare away their prey and catch them as they flee. They collect burning twigs and drop them, for example, on bushes to spread a fire, which obviously can spread very quickly in arid parts of the country.