Characteristics of low IQ arsonists at psychiatric assessment

Geoff Dickens*, Philip Sugarman, Farooq Ahmad, Simon Edgar, Kristina Hofberg, Sidharta Tewari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We conducted a retrospective study of arsonists referred for psychiatric assessment and found that 88/202 (43.6%) had an IQ of 85 or below. The low IQ group showed more evidence of childhood temperamental disturbance, and a later pattern of internal problems rather than external factors expressing themselves as fire-setting. This study highlights the likelihood of lifelong, temperamental problems being apparent in childhood, and being predictive and possibly causative of fire setting in people with a low IQ. Better understanding of the distinct characteristics of lower IQ arsonists is essential for improved prevention, treatment and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-220
Number of pages4
JournalMedicine, Science and the Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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