over the years, psychologists have studied and spotted a few patterns that present in most kids that grow up to be murderers.

child abuse: although not a direct link to a future in crime, experiencing emotional or physical abuse during childhood is definitely a factor in many serial killers’ backgrounds. 

family relationships: another detail many serial killers share in common is the presence of a very strict - or maybe even an overtly religious - parent. an absent father, a domineering mother, or a lack of biological parents at all are also common.

fantasy: serial killers usually spending much of their childhood in fantasy. isolation as a result of bad family relationships and a lack of social skills may result in a child withdrawing and spending an unhealthy amount of time fantasizing.

animal cruelty: this is definitely a telltale sign of danger to come. torturing or patronizing animals is seen as practice until a child is big enough or brave enough to begin to kill humans.

pyromania: setting fires is often sexually stimulating to future serial killers. the  destruction of property feeds the same perverse need to destroy another human being.  

A Bit of Research on Pyromania

haxorizer145 asked: Hi, I’m a beginner at writing, I have this prototype for a story that is centered in a mental asylum, however, I have no idea how to get my character’s mental disorder right. My character has Pyromania. I would like to write him in his point of view, with thoughts and things like that. But whenever I write his thoughts it just comes out as “Oh that’s pretty view, it would be prettier with FIRE!” or something like that, I would like some tips regarding this, thank you very much.

Check out This Is a Towel: Mental Disorders for more general tips on writing mental disorders and make sure to read Sordid Fairy Tale: Offensive Mistakes Well-Intentioned Writers Make for great advice on avoiding cliches and offensive stereotypes.

As far as pyromaniacs specifically, I’ve got some links for you. First, check out Wikipedia’s article to get a general overview of pyromania. Sometimes Wikipedia helps, sometimes not so much. Hopefully this will be one of those mercifully helpful times.

Now have some medical science!

You might also appreciate I Am a Pyromaniac, a storyboard forum hosted by Experience Project which collects the thoughts and stories of real pyromaniacs. There are lots of forums hosted by the Experience Project that may help any writer doing research on the human experience. Look those up by topic on their Explore Experiences page (and add your experiences to forums that apply to you to help others!).

One more thing: TVTropes has three fabulous pages on pyromania and pyromaniacs. They are Pyro Maniac, Sliding Scale: Pyromaniac, and Playing With: Pyromaniac. Definitely look into those pages for ideas on how other creators have portrayed pyromania in books and other media.

Thank you for your question! If you have any comments on this post or other questions about writing, you can message us here


A sadist, a masochist, a murderer, a necrophile, a zoophile and a pyromaniac are all sitting on a bench in a mental institution.
“Let’s have sex with a cat?” asked the zoophile.
“Let’s have sex with the cat and then torture it,” says the sadist.
“Let’s have sex with the cat, torture it and then kill it,” shouted the murderer.
“Let’s have sex with the cat, torture it, kill it and then have sex with it again,” said the necrophile.
“Let’s have sex with the cat, torture it, kill it, have sex with it again and then burn it,” said the pyromaniac.
There was silence, and then the masochist said: “Meow.”

I laughed way too hard at this.