Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Personality Quirks: P is for Pyromania

Pyromania is a mental illness characterized by an obsessive desire or irresistible impulse to start fires. Pyromaniacs are not arsonists. An arsonist deliberately sets fires for personal, monetary, or political gain. For the pyromaniac, setting fires either relieves tension and/or provides instant gratification.

Famous pyromaniacs include:
Agneta Isborn Lind—a leading Thought Terrorist who conducts Fahrenheit 451 operations;
John “Pillow Pyro” Orr—an arson investigator who started about 2000 fires;
David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz—terrorized NYC, but his love of setting 1411 fires led to his capture; and, sadly, many, many more pyromaniacs.

This mental illness, unlike many others, always leads to property destruction and often to deaths. The seriousness of this illness is impossible to overstate.

Pryromania comes to us from the Greek pur  ‘fire’ + mainesthai ‘be mad’ (madness).

Your pyromania character might be the nice guy next door who is always helping out. A series of fires in the neighborhood, thought to be started by unruly teens, finds him always there first, risking life and limb to save neighbors’ property. He always knows where the hydrant is, the water valves, the ladders, and so on. He even can figure out how the fires were started, since he has a signature pyromania technique like John Orr above. Who figures out his pyromania? His wife? His teenage daughter? His best friend? Or does he experience remorse and confess when an elderly neighbor dies in one of his fires?

Another pyromaniac could be a serial fire starter who is mad at City Hall or government in general and wants to destroy public facilities. Heesh might escalate the fires from those set on the lawn to burning down buildings. What events could trigger the pyromaniac to take action in this way? Who could figure it out? Is there a reporter who notices that the same person is in every photo taken at a fire scene? Does the pyromaniac realize heesh is about to be unmasked and so burns the reporter’s condo in retaliation?

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Here are some ideas for #writers on creating pyromaniac #characters from @RomanceRighter

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