The inability to control impulses or resist the temptation to engage in behaviour encompasses an impulsivity disorder. Often this causes the individual to partake in risk-taking behaviour, an example being pyromania. This has been defined as a fascination with the fire resulting in the deliberate setting of fires with the absence of any other psychological explanations, such as hallucinations or delusions, in the attempt to receive reward or gratification and not in an attempt to conceal crimes (Allely, 2019).
The prevalence of pyromania however is unknown due to it being relatively under-researched within psychopathology. However, its predictability can allude through the fire-setting scale, developed by Gannon and Barrowcliffe (2012). Derived from the theorising of the process of fire setting, this self-report measure consists of 20 items investigating behavioural problems associated with fire setting and overall, the level of general interest in fire. Examples of the former are ‘I am a rule breaker’ and ‘I engage in acts that are dangerous’ and examples of the latter being ‘I like to watch fire’ and ‘I get excited thinking about fire’. A second scale was developed, the fire proclivity scale which assesses their propensity to engage in fire-setting behaviour. This was innovatively done by asking participants to imagine themselves within a scenario to which they are asked upon a 7-point Likert scale to rate their likelihood of engaging in fire-setting behaviour and to reflect upon the given scenario.
Whilst the validity of these scales needs to be investigated it has been highlighted as a novel way of assessing the potential of pyromania as well as being informative about the disorder. These scales, when used together, provide the potential to detect this behaviour and could be used as a screening method for pyromania.
Gannon, T.A. and Barrowcliffe, E. (2012), “Firesetting in the general population: the development and validation of the fire setting and fire proclivity scales”, Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 105-22
Allely, C. S. (2019). Fire-setting and psychopathology: a brief overview of prevalence, pathways and assessment. Journal of criminal psychology.
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