Fire-setting, Psychotic Symptoms and Histories of Abuse in Hospitalized Adolescents with Psychiatric Disorders
- Linda Escobar Olszewski1, James B McCarthy1, Keith Kraseski2, Michael Fitzgerald2, Silvia Asherian2, Jessica Kastin1, Frank Seabrook1
Even though deliberate fire-setting is associated with a range of psychiatric disorders, there are few evidence-based guidelines for the psychological treatment of adolescents who set fires. Studies that investigate psychiatric disorders and histories of maltreatment in adolescent fire-setters often emphasize externalizing disorders, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), especially since fire-setting is one of the criteria for CD, and impulsivity, a strong interest in fires and antisocial personality features are all very positively correlated, but fire-setting is also associated with psychotic disorders and substance abuse. Studies of adult psychiatric inpatients note a 20% incidence of psychotic disorders among fire-setters as well as diagnoses of personality disorders. Although Kolko & Kazdin found that 30% of adolescent inpatients had a history of fire-setting, the prevalence rates of fire-setting in youth with psychiatric disorders have been difficult to establish, and the relationship between severe psychopathology and fire-setting is not well understood.