The word "Pyromania" comes from the New Latin word Pyro, which comes from the Greek pūr, meaning fire, and from mania, meaning an excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, desire or craze. From this etymology it can be seen that pyromania must be a fascination with and delight in fire.

And this is correct. A pyromaniac is a person who lights destructive fires for the pleasure it gives them. Often the preparations pyromaniacs make before setting fires are complex. During this planning phase the pyromaniac will be filled with strong tension and desire. Once the fire is lit, and while it burns the pyromaniac will feel pleasure and their tension will be relieved.  For some merely setting the fire is enough. Other need to watch the fire burn, or even to summon the fire brigade and "assist" them in putting out the fire.

Not everyone who has ever lit a destructive fire can be called a pyromaniac, however. Pyromaniacs do not light fires in order to be seen as heroes while putting them out. The only reason a pyromaniac sets a fire is the sheer delight of seeing things burn. A person with pyromania does not set fires for money, to express political beliefs, to hide signs of a crime, or to show anger. It is not pyromania if someone sets a fire in response to a delusion or hallucination. It is also not pyromania if the person setting the fire is in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, has a conduct disorder, or has an antisocial personality disorder, or is acting this way because of intoxication

Pyromania can not be deduced from the lighting of a single destructive fire, either. Unless a person has lit such a fire on more than one occasion the behavior must be blamed on another mental or social disorder.

Pyr"o*ma"ni*a (?), n. [Pyro- + mania.]

An insane disposition to incendiarism.


© Webster 1913.

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