Running with Scissors Study Guide

Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

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.

This chapter focuses on further describing the Finch family. It starts with an anecdote about a makeshift parade led by Dr. Finch and involving Augusten, a reluctant Deirdre, and most of the available Finch family. They cover themselves with balloons and pass out fliers while Dr. Finch plays a red kazoo in celebration of "World Father’s Day". Upon his stern request most of the women in the parade are wearing only two balloons-one over each breast. At one point during the parade Dr. Finch invites female spectators to "explore" his testicles.

The next glimpse into the life of the Finches, is an altercation between Natalie and Hope. According to Dr. Finch, anger is the crux of most mental illness, and so fighting is always encouraged in his household. The arguments usually involve name calling and accusations that stem from psychological nomenclature, most notably the Freudian stages of psycho sexual development (i.e. oral, anal, genital). The fights would often become physical . The one described to us in this chapter ends with Hope, who is nearly 30 at the time, being held down by Natalie until she submits.

When Agnes, Dr. Finch’s wife, expresses her anger, it is always directed at Dr. Finch, and nearly always due to the fact that he has three mistresses that he sees openly. Dr. Finch finds his wife’s anger hilarious, often inviting others to come join in the witnessing of her hysterics. Eventually, Agnes would also recognize the humor in the situation and join in the laughter.

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