Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Adult firesetters: prevalence, characteristics, psychopathology

Dickens, G. and Sugarman, P. (2012) Adult firesetters: prevalence, characteristics, psychopathology. In: Dickens, G., Sugarman, P. and Gannon, T. A. (eds.) Dickens, Geoff, Sugarman, Philip and Gannon, Theresa A Firesetting and Mental Health: Theory, Research and Practice. London: RCPsych Publications. pp. 3-27.

Item Type: Book Section
Abstract: In the USA, one in 100 adults has a self-reported lifetime history of deliberate firesetting and, for 38% of these firesetting persisted beyond the age of 15 years (Blanco et al, 2010; Vaughn et al, 2010). These statistics, findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), represent the first attempt worldwide to gauge the extent of intentional firesetting in a general adult population. If it is accurate, then, based on US population figures (US Census Bureau, 2010), there are roughly 1 million US adults who have deliberately set fires since age 15. In the UK the figure would approach 200000 (Office for National Statistics, 2005). This chapter critically explores the current evidence base on the prevalence of firesetting behaviour and examines these new findings in the light of previous research on arson and firesetting among more highly selected offending and clinical populations. The key questions addressed relate first to the credibility of this new evidence, and the extent to which it supports the current knowledge base about the correlates, characteristics and psychopathology of arsonists and firesetters. Second, the chapter synthesises the current knowledge of the characteristics of those who deliberately set fires, and addresses the sociodemographic factors, psychopathological features, co-offending behaviours and developmental characteristics associated with deliberate firesetting (see Table 1.1). The chapter provides practitioners with state-of-the-art information on which to base clinical decision-making in this difficult and sometimes misunderstood area, and highlights gaps in knowledge, where future research is needed. ‘Arson’ is a legal term which defines the specific criminal act of intentionally or recklessly setting fire to property or wildland areas; an arsonist has, by definition, been convicted of the crime of arson.
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC435 Psychiatry > RC554 Personality disorders. Behavior problems > RC569.5.P9 Pyromania
Creators: Dickens, Geoff and Sugarman, Philip
Editors: Dickens, Geoff, Sugarman, Philip and Gannon, Theresa A
Publisher: RCPsych Publications
Northamptonshire and East Midlands: Health
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Health & Society
Date: February 2012
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 3-27
Title of Book: Firesetting and Mental Health: Theory, Research and Practice
Journal or Publication Title: RCPsych Publications
Place of Publication: London
Number of Pages: 278
Language: English
ISBN: 9781908020376
Status: Published / Disseminated

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