Female arsonists: a clinical study. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This paper is a detailed study of a sample of 15 female arsonists. A review of the literature suggests that arson is seen more frequently in males with female firesetters usually comprising 10 to 18% of the samples of firesetters studied. As a result, female arsonists have been studied less often, and only a few authors have reported on their clinical features. This retrospective study demonstrates that female arsonists do not fall in any particular age group and are mostly either single or separated. Some psychosexual aspects of their behavior also appear to be clinically relevant. In contrast to previous studies, they were more often diagnosed as personality disordered and an association with suicidal behavior was found. Their motivations for the firesetting behavior were also considered. Finally, this paper compares some demographic, clinical, and other differences between male and female arsonists. The study also suggests that poor impulse control may be a prerequisite to this type of criminal behavior. The identification of psychopathic traits in the arsonist has important medico-legal implications.

publication date

  • 1989