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.

Dr. Finch, Hope, Dorothy, Neil and Augusten are all staying at a motel in Rhode Island trying to cure Deirdre from her latest psychotic break. In the midst of Deirdre’s eating ceiling plaster and scrawling the number 5 in lipstick all over the room, Neil expresses some concerns about the relationship between he and Augusten. He begins by writing "You are nothing but a sex object" on the back of a Nestle crunch wrapper. He then tells Augusten that he sometimeswants to hold him so tightly that he will squeeze the life out of him so that he will never disappear. He speaks of a power that Augusten has over him. Augusten gives little thought to Neil’s crisis and focuses on the situation with his mother.

Dr. Finch, who has the theory that Deirdre’s psychosis stems from her repressed love for him, takes Deirdre out for a sandwich. Augusten follows. A waitress named Winnie takes an interest in Deirdre and asks Augusten about her. She is leery of Dr. Finch’s attention.

That evening, Winnie visits and ousts Dr. Finch from the motel room by claiming to know every trucker in the motel and having some influence over them. The two stay in the room undisturbed for three days. When they emerge, Deirdre has had a makeover and seems better. She informs everyone that Winnie will take a leave of absence from work and accompany them back home.

Although Deirdre seems better, Augusten still senses her insanity.

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