Looking at the characteristics of adult arsonists from a narrative perspective

Katarina Fritzon*, Heather Lewis, Rebekah Doley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews literature on the characteristics of adult arsonists as well as clinical and theoretical perspectives on explaining the psychology of adult fire-setting. A model of fire-setting is presented that addresses the functions of the behaviour, following a general discussion of other approaches to classifying arsonists, emphasising empirically derived classifications. Finally, a possible explanatory framework is provided in the form of a narrative theory account of fire-setting, with case examples presented to illustrate the main themes that emerge in the role that the arsonists assign to themselves as the main character in their own life story. The review concludes by presenting practical implications of the model, especially focusing on the utility of providing a twotiered treatment model, combining group treatment with individual treatment, addressing the role that arson may play in identity formation and integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-438
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


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