How to Play A Character Who Is A Pyromaniac:
I was asked to do a guide on how to play a pyromaniac, so I’m here to give it a shot. I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, and before starting this guide I knew very little about it. It’s a very interesting disorder that would be a great thing to bring to a character in a roleplay!
What is Pyromania? →
Pyromanic is defined as “a pattern of deliberate setting of fires for pleasure or satisfaction derived from the relief of tension experienced before the fire-setting.”
Symptoms of Pyromania →
- A deep urge to set a fire that does not stem from substance abuse, desire for personal gain or a desire for revenge.
- Increased tension or anxiety may lead to the urge for fire-setting.
- Immense feelings of pleasure and relief during the activity.
- Possible guilt, shame or embarrassment once the episode is complete.
- Fixation on fire, fire stations, firefighters or other activities involving fire.
Causes of Pyromania →
Like other impulse-control disorders, the exact cause of pyromanic is not known. A chemical imbalance in the brain or other neurological issues may play a role, though. Long-term exposure to people with any type of mental illness can contribute, including growing up in a family surrounded by substance abuse, domestic abuse and schizoid behavior or lack or impuse-control. This type of behavior may be passed genetically, but that is not known.
Causes of pyromania can be described in outline as either individual or environmental factors.
Individual Factors →
- Antisocial behaviors and attitudes. Most adolescent fire-setters have committed other crimes, including forcible rape, nonviolent sexual offenses, and vandalism of property.
- Sensation seeking. Other youths are attracted to fire-setting out of boredom.
- Attention seeking. Fire-setting often becomes a way of provoking reactions from parents and other authorities.
- Lack of social skills. A lot of youths arrested for fire-setting are described by others as loners and rarely have significant friendships.
- Lack of fire-safety skills and ignorance of the dangers associated with fire-setting.
Economic Factors →
- Poor supervision by parents and other significant adults.
- Early learning experiences of watching adults use fire carelessly or inappropriately.
- Neglect by parents or emotional un-involvement.
- Peer pressure. Having peers who smoke or play with fire is a definite risk factor for a child’s setting fires themselves.
- Stressful life events. Some children and adolescents resort to fire-setting as a way of coping with crises in their lives and/or limited family support for dealing with crises.
Fire-setting in Children and Adolescents →
Some people classify children and adolescents who set fires as either pathological or non-pathological. The pathological children are motivated primarily by curiosity and the desire to experiment with fire. Most of them are between five and ten years of age and do not understand the dangers of playing with fire. On the other hand, those who are considered to be pathological fire-setters have been subdivided into the following five categories.Fire-setting As a Cry for Help →Some adolescents set fires as a way of calling attention to an intrapsychic problem such as depression. They can also be calling out because of an interpersonal problem like parental separation and divorce or physical and sexual abuse.
Delinquent Fire-setters → Delinquent fire-setters are usually between the ages of eleven and fifteen. When they set fires, it’s usually part of a larger pattern of aggression and may also include vandalism and hate crimes. These people are more likely to damage property with their fire-setting than to injure people with it.
Severely Disturbed Fire-setters → Severely disturbed fire-setters are often diagnosed as either psychotic or paranoid. They appear to be reinforced by the sensory aspects of fire setting. Often, these adolescents will set fires as part of suicide attempts.
Cognitively Impaired Fire-setters → Children whose impulse control is damaged by a neurological or medial condition such as fetal alcohol syndrome are called cognitively impaired fire-setters.
Sociocultrual Fire-setters → Influenced by antisocial adults in their community, sociocultural fire-setters set fires in order to win the adults’ approval.
Diagnosing Pyromaniacs →
There are six criteria that must be met for a patient to be diagnosed with pyromania.
- Must have set fires deliberately and purposely on more than one occasions.
- Must have experienced feelings of tension or emotional arousal before setting the fires.
- Must indicate that he/she is fascinated with, attracted to, or curious about fire and situations surrounding fire (equipment associated with fire, uses of fire, aftermath of fire-setting).
- Must experience relief, pleasure, or satisfaction from setting the fire or from witnessing or participating in the aftermath.
- Does not have other motives for setting fires (financial motives; ideological convictions; anger or revenge; a desire to cover up another crime; delusions or hallucinations; or impaired judgment resulting from abuse substance, dementia, mental retardation, or traumatic brain damage).
- Fire-setting can’t be better accounted for by an anti-social personality disorder, a conduct disorder, or a manic episode.
Treatments for Pyromania →
Children and Adolescents → Treatment for children and adolescents involved with repeated fire-setting seems to be more effective when it follows a case-management approach instead of a medical model. This is because many young fire-setters come from chaotic households. Treatment often begins with a structured interview with the parents and the child to evaluate the stresses on the family, patterns of supervision and discipline, and similar factors. The next stage of treatment is different for every person, as it is tailored to the individual child and their home situation. Different treatments include problem-solving skills, anger management, communication skills, and cognitive restructuring may be necessary to address all the emotional and cognitive issues.
Adults → Adults are more difficult to treat for pyromania because there is a lack of insight and cooperation on the part of most patients diagnosed with the disorder. In this case, treatment usually consists of a combination of medication and long-term insight-oriented psychotherapy.
Treatment Options →
- Cognitive-Behavioral therapy:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – helps to bring about awareness of triggering events that may lead to symptoms. Also provides new and more positive coping skills and suggestions for activities that may lead away from the negative behavior.
- Family therapy – may help to uncover the individual root cause of symptoms, leading to a more balanced sense of wellness and increased ability to resist urges.
- Group therapy – engaging in mutually supportive groups of people with similar symptoms may bring about increased awareness of problem areas and new avenues for prevention.
- Alternative therapy – exercises in meditation, relaxation and programs such as yoga and tai-chi encourage healing of the mind, body and spirit, which may lead to increased emotional stability.