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Understanding the Arsonist, Second Edition - Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, Inc.

Understanding the Arsonist, Second Edition

$ 35.00

  • Author: Dian Williams
  • ISBN-10: 1-936360-14-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-936360-14-7
  • Copyright Date Ed: January 2, 2013
  • Pages: 282 pages
  • Binding Information: Softbound
  • Size: 6.5 x 9.5 inches (US)

This revised and expanded second edition provides the latest qualified research into arsonist behavior. New and exampded chapters tackle topics such as female firestarters, revenge firestarters, and thrillseeker firestarters.

Dr. Dian Williams, owner and founder of the Center for Arson Research, offers a look at the reasons individuals set fires and the research that influenced it. The Federal Government recognizes her as one of only six arson research fellows in the United States. This text is the only complete collection of her extensive research into firesetting, gathered through interviews with actual or suspected firesetters, analysis of the data, and clinical interpretation of the findings. You’ll learn about six specific psychological profiles of firesetters, their motivation for setting fires, and the types of fires they set.

Topics include:

  • An Overview of Firesetting
  • Identifying an Arsonist
  • Interrogation Strategies
  • Recent research and studies
  • Arsonist motivation
  • Actual interviews with arsonists
  • Types of fires
  • The Experimental/Curiosity/Accidental Firesetter
  • The Delinquent Firesetter
  • The Thought-Disordered Firesetter
  • The Revenge Firesetter
  • Thrill Seeker Arsonists
  • The Disordered Coping Firesetter
  • The Female Firesetter

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: An Overview of Firesetting
The Historical Perspective on Firesetting Research
A Review of Studies on Motivation: Trends and Concepts
Arson as Sexually Deviant Symbolism
Arson as an Expression of Aggression
Juvenile Firesetters
Demographics of Youthful Firesetters
Social Class and Crime
Family Life
Age of Onset
Common diagnoses

Chapter 2: The Experimental/Curiosity/Accidental Firesetter
Cognitive and Emotional Development
Moral Development
Characteristics of the Subtype
From the Center for Arson Research Case Files: An Accidental Firesetter

Chapter 3: The Thought-disordered Firesetter
Biological Theories
Biochemical Theories
Neuroanatomic Theories
Psychosocial Theories
Psychoanalytic Theories
From the Center for Arson Research Case Files: A Thought-Disorder Firesetter
Interviewing Strategies for Investigators

Chapter 4: The Delinquent Firesetter
The Concept of Delinquency
Social Disorganization Theory
Strain Theory
Characteristics of Delinquent Firesetters
Social Process Theory
Social Control Theory
Containment Theory
Identifying the Delinquent Firesetter
Firesetting in an Adolescent Behavioral Context
Prevention/Intervention Strategies and Gaps in Knowledge in Delinquent Firesetting Behavior
From the Center for Arson Research Files: A Delinquent Firesetter
Interviewing Strategy

Chapter 5: The Revenge Firesetter
Part I: Overview
Risk Factors in Adolescence
Conduct and Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Substance Abuse and Other Influences
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Empathy and Remorse
Origins and Emotions of Firesetting
Part II: Terrorism
Domestic Terrorism
Part III: Interviewing Strategies for Investigators
From the Center for Arson Research Files: An Adolescent Revenge Firesetter

Chapter 6: Thrillseeker Arsonist
The Concept of Risk-Taking
The Development of Morality
Moral Reasoning in the Middle Years and Adolescence
Moral Learning and Psychopathy
Etiology of the Psychopath
The Criminal Psychopath
A Closer Look at Two Thrill Seeker Arsonists
Firefighters as Arsonists
From the Center for Arson Research Files: A Thrillseeker Firesetter
Interviewing Strategies for Police and Fire Investigators

Chapter 7: The Disordered Coping Firesetter
Violence, Abuse, and Neglect
An Overview of Violence
Age and Gender
Social Class
Child Maltreatment
Physical Child Abuse and Neglect Models
Physical Abuse and Neglect
Sexual Abuse
The Impact of Physical, Sexual and Emotional Abuse and Neglect
Maltreatment and Disordered Coping Firesetters
The Concept of Resilience
The Absence of Resilience and the Presence of Risk
Sex Offender Behavior and Arson: The Presence of Fantasy
An Overview of Sex Offenders with Adult Female Victims
Juvenile Sex Offenders
Disordered Coping Firesetters and Deviant Fantasies
From the Center for Arson Research Files: Interview with a Disordered Coping Firesetter
Interviewing Strategies for Police and Fire Investigators

Chapter 8: Female Firesetters
Crime Data and Gender
Female Firesetters
Female Delinquent Firesetters
Female Revenge Firesetters
Female Thrillseekers
Disordered Coping Firesetters
From the Center for Arson Research Files: A Female Firesetter

Chapter 9: Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
The Research Agenda
Our Future Plans


Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
Jeffrey J. De La Rosa,in The Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine
Understanding the Arsonist: From Assessment to Confession, 2d Ed.

This book fits right in with the best-practices and evidence-based-decision-making movements within the criminal justice systems. This is a great resource if you need help with an arson case or in understanding arson. The book focuses on six specific psychological profiles or types of fire starters to explain and define arson behavior, beyond the simplified Freudian theory of arson as a sexually driven act and the DSM-IV approach of arson as a mental health issue. The book looks at the personality types (for example, thought-disordered fire starter) and goals (for example, revenge fire starter) of arsonists.

The author extensively refers to research based on interviews with actual or suspected fire starters and analysis and clinical interpretations of that research. ... The book will ultimately be of much more assistance to readers looking for greater clarity in an arson case and defining a particular fire starter for purposes of case investigation and treatment and punishment.

The book, although only 214 pages, is full of data, charts, arson examples, and breakdowns of different types of arson behavior. The author does, however, acknowledge the deficiencies and gaps in arson research. Lawyers, other criminal justice professionals, and mental health professionals would benefit from it.

See the whole review at:

Reference Research Book News
Reference Research Book News

An American consultant and researcher on arson, Williams surveys the types of firesetters: the experimental or curious, the delinquent, the thought-disordered, the revenge, the thrill seeker, and the disordered coping. For each, she reviews various psychological and social theories, identifies variations, and often provides case studies. She begins with an overview of firesetting, and concludes with a research agenda and future plans.

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