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Differences Between an Arsonist and a Pyromaniac

Arsonist vs Pyromaniac

The words “arsonist” and “pyromaniac” are often blurred and used in similar usages. However, they differ in their meaning, and the mindset of the person varies considerably in both cases.


An arsonist is a person who sets fire to someone else’s property with an intention of revenge. It is an act done by a person with a criminal mindset who is out to satisfy his vengeance. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, arson is defined as “a criminal act of burning of the property or building of another person undertaken due to malice,” or “burning of personal property for improper purposes.” Arson is considered to be a major source of property damage in many nations. According to a study done in Australia, there is a major outbreak of fire about every hour per day which amounts to a loss of about $157 million annually. This monetary loss amounts to about a million in the U.S.

Most arsonists are people with a troubled childhood such as divorced parents and abuse and alcoholism. An arsonist’s behavior may also be followed by terrorists as it is a simple and quick method of destruction and cause loss of human lives along with monetary losses.

Arson is considered to be a serious charge by law enforcement. Charges of arson may lead to severe penalties.


A pyromaniac is a person who commits the crimes following a wave of impulse. They suffer from an impulse control disorder which pushes them to accomplish such acts. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person may be categorized as a pyromaniac if he or she intentionally starts a fire on at least two occasions. The symptoms related to this condition, as described by the Association, are excitement and tension before committing the act and a feeling of gratification and relief afterwards. A pyromaniac has an obsession towards fire. It may lead to threatening results because such a person may not be able to analyze the degree of loss of life or property due to the resulting fire.
A pyromaniac is a rare disorder. A study proves that only two per cent of all the fire-setting behaviors committed are attributed to pyromania. The prognosis of this condition is also poor. Also, most pyromaniacs are men.

The differences between the two are described very creatively by Manny Francis, III.

“You see, the major difference between you and me,”
said one friend to another,
“is I don’t want to set the world on fire.
I just want to watch it burn.”



  1. An arsonist has a criminal motivation or a feeling of revenge while a pyromaniac is a psychological disorder.
  2. An arsonist’s behavior is common while pyromania is a rare disorder.

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  1. There are many possible motives for what may be called arson other than revenge. E.g., collecting on insurance, destroying evidence of a crime, murder, hate.

  2. what were you thnking when you wrote this poem? i am a college student writing a paper on pyromaniacs and I was also a victim of a fire. I would love your feed back and thoughts!

  3. may I ask the name of the person that wrote this poem? I can’t find the author or when you wrote it.

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