Running With Scissors is a memoir in which Augusten Burroughs recounts his unusual childhood after his mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch, at age twelve. There are few rules in the Finch household, and both Augusten and Dr. Finch's other children do mostly as they please, including smoking pot and having sex. At age thirteen, Augusten begins a sexual relationship with Finch's thirty-three-year-old son. Despite this unorthodox, and at times damaging, parenting method, Augusten comes to think of the Finches as his family.
Augusten’s father is a math professor at U Mass. He is also a severe alcoholic with a skin condition and a dour personality. The only time he spends with his son are the infrequent trips they take to the garbage dump.
Augusten himself is fascinated by clothing, jewelry,stardom and doctors. He spends his time listening to Tony Orlando and Dawn albums, and dreaming of being an actor, a doctor, or better yet, playing a doctor on TV.
His parents’ situation is miserable and violent. In one described episode his drunken father attempts to strangle his mother, who pushes him away , causing him to cut his head severely enough to produce a small puddle of blood, but no real injury.
The result of the continued hostility is Dr. Finch, a family counselor who resembles Santa Claus. Augusten likes Dr. Finch and befriends the receptionist in his office, Hope, who turns out to be one of his many children.
Augusten’s parents divorce, and he moves with his mother to Amherst.