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From stack-firing to pyromania: medico-legal concepts of insane arson in British, US and European contexts, c. 1800-1913. Part 2

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jonathan Andrews

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Abstract

The second part of this paper1 explores deepening doubts about pyromania as a special insanity, British debates post-1890, and pyromania's supplanting with the broader diagnostic category of insane incendiarism. It assesses the conceptual importance of revenge and morbid-motivations for arson, and the relationship of Victorian and Edwardian concepts of arson to more modern psychiatric research. The main objective is to ascertain the extent to which Victorian and Edwardian medico-psychologists and medical legists arrived at meaningful and workable definitions of criminal insanity linked to arson. It concludes by emphasizing the limitations, contentiousness and inconsistencies in the use of technical terms such as 'pyromania', contrasted with the qualified success of authorities in arriving at more viable and broadly acceptable explanations of insane firesetting.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Andrews J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: History of Psychiatry

Year: 2010

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 387-405

Print publication date: 07/12/2010

ISSN (print): 0957-154X

ISSN (electronic): 1740-2360

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957154X09349706

DOI: 10.1177/0957154X09349706


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