Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?
The propensity which leads an insane person to accomplish his purpose by burning, has been considered to merit particular notice, and to constitute a variety of monomania. Dr. Marc, of France, has published a memoir on the subject; he gives the name of pyromania to it, and considers that, like other insane propensities, it may be the result of instinct, or it may be the result of delusion--reasoning upon erroneous principles. [Alexander Morrison, M.D., "The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases," London, 1840]An older word for it was incendiarism.
pyromania py·ro·ma·ni·a (pī'rō-mā'nē-ə, -mān'yə)
An uncontrollable impulse to start fires.
An uncontrollable urge to set fires.
impulse-control disorder characterized by the recurrent compulsion to set fires. The term refers only to the setting of fires for sexual or other gratification provided by the fire itself, not to arson for profit or revenge. Pyromania is usually a symptom of underlying psychopathology, often associated with aggressive behaviours. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, noted that the majority of pyromaniacs are males with a history of bed-wetting and suggested that pyromania is one of many disorders brought on by the denial of instinctual drives, in this case a male desire to control fire by urination. Later psychoanalysts found his explanation too simplistic. Among other suggested causes of pyromania are the feeling of rejection and the wish for the return of an absent father.