1st Edition

New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting The Human-Fire Relationship

By Faye Horsley Copyright 2022
    132 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    132 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting: The Human-Fire Relationship is the first forensic text to move away from a sole focus on anti-social firesetting. The author presents a broader investigation of the role of fire in human life with a view to informing research and practice.

    This book examines the evolutionary, psychological and social significance of fire. Drawing on interdisciplinary literature and original research data, it challenges the existing understanding of arson and firesetting. A new concept – fire use – is introduced, which is conceptualised as sitting on a continuum from non-criminalised to criminalised behavior. The author combines her experience as a practitioner forensic psychologist with her own research to consider the practical application of an alternative perspective. This includes a particular focus on the assessment and treatment of fire setters and a call for a socially informed approach to prevention.

    The forensic scope, applied focus, and emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary research and practice makes New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting essential reading for students in fields such as anthropology, sociology, criminology, and psychology, as well as interdisciplinary scholars, forensic practitioners, and allied professionals.

    The author is donating her royalties in full to Pancreatic Cancer UK.

    1. Introduction 2. The Significance of Fire 3. The Misuse of Fire 4. Understanding Fire Use 5. A Preliminary Theory of Fire Use 6. Assessing Fire Setters—A Holistic Approach 7. Treatment and Intervention 8. Conclusion


    Dr Faye K. Horsley is a lecturer in forensic psychology at Newcastle University. She is also a registered forensic psychologist with over 16 years of experience working in prison and secure hospital settings.

    "Faye Horsley presents a nuanced and richly informed perspective on arson, locating it within a broadly interdisciplinary account of human interactions with fire across time and cultures.  Drawing on diverse sources, she compellingly argues that fire use in contemporary societies is best conceptualized as a continuum, and that a holistic approach is needed if we are to accurately assess and treat those who have used fire in a criminalised manner, or are on a path towards doing so. Accessibly written, this book will be of value to clinicians, jurists, and researchers alike; indeed, anyone who has been intrigued by fire and fire use will find their curiosity kindled." –Daniel M. T. Fessler, University of California Los Angeles, US

    "New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting provides a well-informed argument that many benefits will flow from." —Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire (New York: Basic Books, 2009)

    "This is a well-crafted book that will engage academic and lay inquisitive readers. It integrates theory along with careful consideration of pre-existing literature. It presents a new model to conceptualise fire setting, which helpfully applies a continuum approach as a helpful alternative to dichotomy. Consequently, I warmly recommend this valuable text." —Jane L. Ireland, University of Central Lancashire, UK

    "Horsley’s accessible writing style, her practitioner and academic ‘voice,’ and the interdisciplinary approach she takes when unpicking the complex and fascinating relationship human beings have with fire is a welcome addition to the field. By shifting the traditional focus of firesetting research and practice away from the misuse of fire, and towards a wider notion of all fire-use as a continuum of behaviour, Horsley provides a richer lens with which to think about children, teenagers and adults who set fires. With implications for research, assessment and practice, this book is an important addition in the armoury of those tasked with preventing and responding to fires." —Joanna Foster, Author and Managing Director of fabtic, specialising in child-set fires

    "This book is an excellent resource for practitioners and students alike in respect of a contemporary approach to fire setting and fire use. Risk assessment and treatment are considered, informed by theory but also from a practical perspective. This will help readers apply the useful recommendations for broad analysis of a person's relationship with fire, rather than only focusing on the fire setting that forms their offending behaviour. Fire setting requires careful analysis at an individual level; this book is an essential read that will certainly inform clinical practice and research in the future." —Dr Ruth J. Tully, Tully Forensic Psychology, UK

    "This is a fascinating and authoritative book, taking an original look at fire and our relationship with it in order to raise serious questions about how we understand arson and ‘arsonists’. In providing an in-depth exploration of the way humans in general understand and use fire, Dr Horsley has opened up an area of inquiry which has been significantly neglected, and offers us exciting and important insights, drawing out important connections between the ways we relate to fire in its conventional uses; unusual and symbolic fire practices; and the criminalisation of some forms of fire setting. The book also introduces an original and persuasive theory of fire use which represents a major original contribution to our knowledge and understanding of this fascinating subject." —Professor Roger Smith, Durham University, UK

    "New Perspectives on Arson and Firesetting is an exciting and innovative book that challenges traditional understandings of arson and firesetting, prompting us to think instead about a continuum of fire use. Dr Horsley pushes the boundaries of what we think we understand about fire use, through analysis of new evidence combined with clinical experience." —Laura Caulfield, University of Wolverhampton, UK