The science of pyromania.

The state of the universe.
Sept. 14 2011 11:23 AM

That's Hot

What does it take to inflame a pyromaniac?

(Continued from Page 2)

But this was only half the battle. Sure, maybe he was getting more excited by naked women, but that didn't mean that his loins no longer craved fire as well. (There's no shortage of irony in the fact behaviorists generally refer to this procedure as "extinguishing" a response.) To purge his fiery lust, then, Lande had the young man masturbate to fire images, but now the incendiary image was paired with an adjacent scene—"a highly unpleasant scene"—which depicted a scenario that was intensely feared by the patient (such as being caught in a fire without escape, being burned alive, being beaten by a group of tough-looking men screaming "pervert!" and being taken to prison). Lande reports success with this procedure—basically, at 4- and 9-month post-treatment follow-ups, the man claimed that he was fantasizing solely about naked women. Yet given the prospect of going through all that again, who knows if he was telling the truth.


So, motivations for fire-setting behavior are notoriously slippery, and labeling someone properly as a pyromaniac is no easy task for psychiatric investigators. What separates "normal" childhood experimentation from the serious cases presented here still isn't entirely clear, but if your child seems oddly intoxicated by fires, you may want to explore this issue with a trained professional. And I really do mean that. Given the astronomical costs (material and psychological) related to arson and other fire-setting behaviors, it's not something to put on the back burner.

I know that's rich, coming from someone with my antsy background. And sure, I did become a flamer in the end. But the good kind, of course.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?