Sunday, July 13, 2008
Pyromania? Arson? -- L.A. firebug wishes he wasn't one. -- Good? Bad? Right? Wrong? Who knows?
Dear Dr. Jim
Doctor, I hope you can help me. I have this fear that I am a firebug waiting to happen.
Almost every day I play with matches and several butane lighters that I have collected. I light candles for no reason, I am not even religious. I burn my trash in the backyard at times when no one is watching.
My wife gave me such a hard time that now I do all this in secret. She threatened to leave me if I didn't 'straighten up.'
Likes Fire Horace in La La Land.
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OK, and O O, L.F. Bad news for you, you may be a latent pyromaniac.
I did check on firebugs a little because I actually hadn't dealt with any so far in my career.
The law is very hard on firebugs if they start a fire of a public building or property belonging to another. The crime is arson which carries a stiff prison sentence as a penalty. Here are links to a couple of old New York Times articles concerning this crime of arson. Link 1 Link 2 Each makes interesting reading.
Pyromania is the name for having an irresistible impulse to start fires. There has been controversy about whether the condition arises from mental illness or moral deficiency. Psychiatrists have been working on determination of which one.
Please read this article very carefully: [Wikipedia].
I am 99.999% certain that it can be either. At any rate, watch yourself and try to curb your fire setting. Moral deficiency means you are not using good judgement about the difference between good and bad. This can be straightened out and your wife has the right ideas concerning this situation.
On the other hand if it is due to a mental illness situation professional (psychiatric in nature) can certainly help you. Almost all mental situations can either be cured, modified, or curbed with help of proper care.
Whichever your situation, if the behavior continues to the extent of committing arson, help is often lacking or minimal in the crowded confinement institutions (prisons). And in your case I almost hope it is a mental area where you lack the ability to determine right from wrong as this is actually easier for the professional to cope with.
I hope this helps you to see the need get help very soon. Check with a professional for help right away before it is too late.
Oh yes, please leave your matches and lighters before you come to my house.
Don't take your fire to town son
Leave your fire at home O.F.
Don't take your fire to town
Johnny Cash song link.
So, keep on keep'n on, and till then,
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