A pyromaniac, also known as a pyro, is a person who suffers from the condition pyromania, an impulse control disorder. People with pyromania purposely create fires to relieve their own stress. Pyromaniacs also start fires to induce a state of euphoria within themselves, which usually occurs after the fire is set.
The disease is acknowledged to be very rare. The incidence of pyromania is generally considered to be at less than one percent; impulse control disorders overall, including pyromania as well as compulsive gambling and shopping, affect less than one tenth of the population. Pyromaniacs account for a very small amount of psychiatric hospital admissions. Of the patients who are diagnosed with pyromania, 90 percent are male.
Though extremely rare in youth, children as young as three years of age have been known to suffer from pyromania. Most children arrested for arson are not considered pyromaniacs; fires started by child pyromaniacs are considered the most rare of all intentional fires set. As the disease is so rare, most children who start fires are not yet diagnosed with pyromania. Instead, they are considered to be suffering from conduct disorders until they are older.
In order to treat a pyromaniac, behavior modification may be administered through psychotherapy. This is the most frequently used treatment. A pyromaniac may also be analyzed by a physician in order to determine the true cause of his or her behavior. Once this cause, or subconscious problem, is located, the therapist of the pyromaniac will then help the patient through the problem.
Prognosis for the recovery of an adult pyromaniac is usually fair to poor. Children treated with family therapy and community intervention have a much larger success rate; almost all child pyromaniacs can recover completely. When treatment fails, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may be administered in able to stabilize the pyromaniac's emotions and stress level. The patient may also be provided with an outlet for his or her desires in a simulated environment.
Pyromania should be distinguished separately from arson, which is the deliberate destruction of property or wildlife with fire. It is also separate from pyrophilia, a rare disease in which the victim becomes sexually aroused by fire or starting fires. A pyromaniac is also different from people who set fires out of revenge or some kind of gain, whether political, monetary, or otherwise. Overall, less than one fifth of fires with a human source are started by pyromaniacs.