Deliberate Firesetting

Pathological firesetting is the deliberate intentional misuse of fire. It does not necessarily imply a conviction for firesetting, making a distinction from the term arson, which is a legal definition for the criminal act of willfully and maliciously setting fire to property. In this entry, however, the terms are used interchangeably to encompass apprehended and undetected deliberate firesetters.

The literature on deliberate firesetting is replete with an array of terms, usually with a pejorative tone, used to describe the act; for instance, firebug, pyro(maniac), and serial arsonist. The lack of precision in the use of these terms has clouded understanding of the internal drives for deliberate firesetting. For example, conflating the terms pyromania with serial arson suggests a degree of clinical pathology and a range of ...

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