Essay on Pyromania: An Impulse Control Disorder

Essay on Pyromania: An Impulse Control Disorder

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Fire: bright, burning, wondrous thing; the embodiment of life and death. It is easy to understand the fascination that pyromaniacs have with flame. It is, after all, a fascination that extends back countless centuries from the first discoveries of spark and fire. The Greeks saw fire as the embodiment of knowledge; dangerous when used carelessly, but awesome in its abilities. Fire is used every day to cook meals, heat homes, although not so much in Florida, and has many other beneficial uses. Fire can also destroy lives, tear apart families, and utterly consume homes. Fire renews the earth through destruction and reinforces the basic idea that all life must come from some death. It is something humans can manipulate, but is at its base level untamable and free. It is not hard to understand the basic fascination that pyromaniacs have with flame; however, what differentiates them from a person who finds flames fascinating more than most or even an arsonist?

An impulse control disorder, the basic diagnostic criteria is given for diagnosing pyromania by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV-TR. It has six criteria that should be met to determine if an individual is a pyromaniac. The first criterion is rather easy to meet, they must intentionally set a fire more than once (APA 671). On that basis, without looking at any other, than almost everybody in the world could be termed a pyromaniac. Lighting candles, cooking food on the stove, lighting a campfire, or setting a fire in a fireplace, again not as prevalent in Florida, a psychiatrist would be hard pressed to find someone who has not deliberately set a fire or two or a lot more in their lives. Is ...


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... does now have a largely noticeable effect, than it is most likely not known of or reported. Most children try it, get burned, learn to respect the fire, and grow up. Learning to respect the freedom of flame, and the potential danger, is crucial to living in this world and perhaps, as the brain fully matures, most people come to grips with that knowledge.





Works Cited

Adamec, Christine A. Impulse Control Disorders. Ed. Christine Collins, Ph.D. New York: Infobase, 2008. Google Books. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th Ed, text revised. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Print.

Grant, Jon E. Impulse Control Disorders: A Clinician's Guide to Understanding and Treating Behavioral Addictions. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Google Books. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

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