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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Firesetting and Mental Health

Edited by Geoffrey L. Dickens, Philip A. Sugarman and Theresa A. Gannon

Price: £35.00

College members' price: £31.50

Published: Feb 2012

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 288

ISBN: 9781908020376

Firesetting and Mental Health

Arson and other types of deliberate firesetting have major human and financial costs across the globe. People with mental disorder are disproportionately involved and mental health practitioners are frequently required to assess, treat and manage this troubling group. Half of all deliberate fire-related damage is caused by adults and this is the first book to take a comprehensive look at the issue from a mental health perspective. It brings research evidence, theory and practitioner advice into one accessible volume.

Leading experts from the fields of psychiatry and psychology present current evidence on epidemiology, biological and psychological aetiology, and developmental aspects of deliberate firesetting. Contemporary overviews of best practice in relation to assessment and intervention, including in women and offenders with intellectual disability, are provided. Legal and fire safety experts present theoretical knowledge and practical advice on the role of mental health professionals in court and in fire prevention in clinical settings.

  • The only available specialist text on firesetting behaviour in adults.
  • Takes a broad mental health perspective and includes essential practical information about the law and fire prevention.
  • Contributions from psychiatry, psychology, law and fire safety experts.
  • International input by authors from the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA.

Readership: Forensic psychiatrists and psychologists.  May also be useful to criminal justice professionals.

About the editors:
Geoffrey L. Dickens – Research Manager and Head of Nursing Research at St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton and Senior Lecturer at the University of Northampton.
Philip A. Sugarman – Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer at St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton.
Theresa A. Gannon – Reader in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

"Overall, in 278 pages, the editors and authors have commendably packed a wealth of information on the subject, especially as it relates to the adult population. In that respect, the book will be a welcome reference text for mental health practitioners and legal experts interested in adults with firesetting behaviour. Apparently, this is a rather underresearched area, and this book nicely reviews the available important, interesting, and informative read."
- Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

"In cases of arson the courts are inclined to call for psychiatric reports and it behoves us to develop a clear grasp of the motivation and dangerousness of particular patients. The book is helpful in teaching these distinctions. ...This is an interesting and educational book. I recommend it to all psychiatrists."
- Israel Journal of Psychiatry



Part I: Theory and research




Adult firesetters: prevalence, characteristics and psychopathology

Geoff Dickens and Philip Sugarman


Theories on arson: the action systems model

Katarina Fritzon


Differentiating firesetters: lessons from the literature on motivation and dangerousness

Geoff Dickens and Philip Sugarman


The potential relevance of brain dysfunction in arson

Mairead Dolan and Troy E. McEwan


The developmental aspects of firesetting

Sherri MacKay, Erin M. Ruttle, and Ashley K. Ward


Intellectual disability and arson

John Devapriam and Sabyasachi Bhaumik


Female arsonists and firesetters

Theresa A. Gannon, Nichola Tyler, Magali Barnoux and Afroditi Pina


Power and excitement in arson: the case of firefighter arson

Rebekah M. Doley and Kenneth R. Fineman



Part II: Practice and law




Legal perspectives on arson

Sally Averill


Assessment of firesetters

Rebekah M. Doley and Bruce D. Watt


Bushfire and wildfire arson: arson risk assessment in the Australian context

Troy E. McEwan, Rebekah M. Doley and Mairead Dolan


Arson: treatment and interventions

Clive R. Hollin


Arson and mental health: case reports from psychiatric practice

Tim Rogers


Fire risk and fire safety in psychiatric care

Allan Grice


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