According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), pyromania is typically diagnosed after multiple episodes of deliberate and purposeful fire setting. People with this disorder are extremely fascinated by fire and are often regular “watchers” at fires, may set off false fire alarms, and receive pleasure from associations with fire such as personnel and equipment. Those diagnosed with pyromania are often also diagnosed with other disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders.

Criteria for Pyromania DSM-5 312.33 (F63.1)

While the essential feature of pyromania is deliberate fire setting on more than one occasion, the following are further diagnostic criteria that must be met in order to determine the existence of the disorder, as identified by the DSM-5:

  • The person deliberately and purposefully sets fires on more than one occasion.
  • He or she experiences tension or affective arousal before the act.
  • The individual has a fascination with or attraction to fire.
  • He or she feels pleasure, gratification, or relief when setting fires, witnessing fires, or participating in their aftermath.
  • The fire setting is not done for monetary gain, as an expression of sociopolitical ideology or anger, to conceal criminal activity, to improve one’s living circumstances, in response to a delusion or hallucination, or as a result of impaired judgment.
  • The fire setting is not better or reasonably explained by a manic episode or other disorder.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Pyromania DSM-5 312.33 (F63.1)?

Although it is not clear what age pyromania typically begins to develop, fire setting is a major problem in children and adolescents, as over 40% of those arrested for arson in the United States are shy of 18 years. However, juvenile fire setting is commonly explained by conduct disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, or an adjustment disorder. Additionally, pyromania exists more frequently in males, particularly those who have social and learning difficulties.

Is There Treatment for Pyromania DSM-5 312.33 (F63.1)?

In individuals with pyromania, fire-setting incidents are episodic and may occur more frequently or less frequently at any given time. However, the disorder will likely not go away completely on its own and sufferers should seek professional medical help. These individuals will likely be treated with behavioral therapy.

Pyromania in the Rock Industry

As we’ve discussed, pyromania is diagnosed after specific criteria have been considered and met. However, many well-known classic rock stars and bands were viewed as pyromaniacs by many of their fans and onlookers. The following are some of the most infamous pyro-rock moments and stars:

  • The Who performed their smash hit “My Generation” on a TV variety show in 1967 and truly went out with a bang. Drummer, Keith Moon, packed his bass drum with an unusually large amount of explosives and set off a destructive, fire-igniting blast.
  • Metallica put on a show of the like and James Hetfield paid the price. He suffered second and third degree burns down the entire left side of his body during “Fade to Black” in 1992.
  • Kiss stood out with their consistent use of fire and fireworks at their performances. Gene Simmons lit up the stage by breathing fire and Ace Frehley by shooting fireworks out of his guitar. They even got banned forever from Bremen, Germany when they included a big fire finale in their performance after they agreed not to.
  • Venom got with the times and refused to play live until they could find sufficiently remarkable pyros. Like Kiss, after including the extreme fire displays in their performance they were banned from a venue, only in London.

While these rock bands and performers may not be diagnosed as pyromaniacs, they definitely had a fascination with fire and many times disregarded possible consequences of using fire in their performances.