Fire-setting behavior in the histories of a state hospital population

Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Apr;142(4):464-8. doi: 10.1176/ajp.142.4.464.


Review of the records of 191 nongeriatric state hospital inpatients showed that 50 (26%) of the patients had engaged in some form of fire-setting behavior; half of this group had engaged in a single episode. As a group, persons who had engaged in fire-setting behavior were significantly more likely to have a history of nonlethal self-injurious behavior and had a significantly greater number of admissions to the state hospital. The data suggest that fire setting by any patient cannot be accurately predicted and that fire-setting behavior may be an example of destructive operant behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Firesetting Behavior / epidemiology*
  • Firesetting Behavior / psychology
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Hospitals, Public*
  • Hospitals, State*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission
  • Probability
  • Self Mutilation / epidemiology
  • Self Mutilation / psychology
  • United States