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.
Natalie and Augusten, who are 18 and 17 get an apartment in South Hadley Massachusetts and begin attending Holyoke Community College (Augusten is inspired by Natalie and passes his GED).
Augusten enrolls in the premed program but spends most of his time writing things that are beyond, not specific to, and not acceptable as his assignments in English 101. He withdraws from school, and a week later receives a frantic phone call from his mother.
The two meet, and Deirdre, who seems unusually clear and sane to Augusten, tells him that Dr. Finch has been manipulating her with medication, and once raped her. She informs Augusten that she is severing all ties with the Finches.
When he returns to the apartment, Natalie has just received a phone call from Dr. Finch saying that Deirdre has gone off the deep end.
Augusten, rather than take sides against his best friend, leaves and stays in a Motel for a few days. He calls Natalie, who informs him that Dorothy is living with the Finches and that Dr. Finch wants his support in getting his mother committed to a hospital.
Augusten does not give his support, nor does he return to the apartment. He gets his own place and also a job waiting tables at a steak house.
Inspired by the Mary Tyler Moore show, he sets his sites on New York City.