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Pyromania is one of several Impulse Control Disorders. Pyromania is characterized by an impulse to set fires, and involves deliberate and purposeful fire setting with tension or heightened arousal prior to the act and gratification or relief following the act of setting the fire. The fire is not set for monetary gain out of any sense of revenge or anger. It is normal for some children to go through a stage where they are fascinated by fire. However, once they are taught about that fire is dangerous, this fascination is typically tempered by safety concerns. Some children will still play with fire, infrequently, and this is a frightening prospect for parents, but it does not qualify as a psychiatric disorder.
Pyromania involves planning and is more compulsive than impulsive. Pyromania is not diagnosed unless a patient has deliberately set more than one destructive fire, with no external motive like collecting insurance money or covering up a crime. It is not diagnosed where fire setting is part of another illness like Conduct Disorder in children, or psychotic processes that occur in Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder, or if the person sets the fire in response to a delusion or hallucination. Adolescent fire setting is usually associated with Conduct Disorder, ADHD, or Adjustment Disorder. Pyromania occurs more commonly in males, especially those with poor social skills and learning difficulties. Pyromaniacs often have poor learning skills, learning disabilities, or problems dealing with other people or social situations. Most childhood cases of Pyromania do resolve, but untreated adult cases do not.
What are the symptoms?
How is it diagnosed and treated?
Doctors will rule out other disorders and disease prior to diagnosing Pyromania. Some disorders (Antisocial Personality Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Manic Episodes in Bipolar Disorder, Substance Abuse, Mental Retardation, and Psychosis) can exhibit similar signs.
Doctors will perform a thorough physical and mental health evaluation to rule out other disease, and will look for the following signs:
Treatment(s) can include:
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However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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