Etymology of Pyromania

French psychiatrist Henry Marc coins the term in a book published in 1833, observing it as an instinctive and impulsive monomania, exposing the idea of a behavior against nature that can only be explained from insanity despite the fact that the perpetrator is apparently aware of his acts. It is a construction given by the elements of the Greek pyro-, from Pyros, referring to ‘fire’, with roots in the Indo-European *pewor-, for ‘fire’, and mania, in allusion to a state of madness or exaltation. On the other hand, ‘pyromaniac’ is the adjective of the term, highlighting the suffix -mania in referring to the excessive intensity manifested by the individual.

In 1845, Jean-Étienne Esquirol, another renowned French psychiatrist would classify it as an instinctive desire to burn something, reaching the point of delusion, opening the way to intense studies to try to understand the reason for this behavior. The American Psychiatric Association determined in 1952, in its DSM-I, pyromania as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, however, this approach was rejected by numerous specialists, thus, in the DSM-II of 1968 presented by said entity, the mention of ‘pyromania’ would be omitted completely, and it would return in the DSM-III, of 1984, classifying it as a impulse-control disorder.

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