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

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Age Factors; Dangerous Behavior; Female; Firesetting Behavior; *Hospitalization; Hospitals, Psychiatric; *Hospitals, Public; *Hospitals, State; Humans; Impulse Control Disorders; Male; Mental Disorders; Middle Aged; Patient Readmission; Probability; Self Mutilation; United States


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


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.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Apr;142(4):464-8.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID