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.

Augusten Burroughs

  • The main character and writer of the memoir. He lives with the family of his mother's therapist, the Finches for his own safety [according to his mother and Dr. Finch]. He records the odd events of his life in his journal.


  • Augusten’s mother. A published poet with hopes of someday being included in "The New Yorker." She is prone to psychotic breakdowns.

Troy Burroughs

  • Augusten's older brother. He is the "normal" one of the family, and undoubtedly the smartest. He has an odd obsession with all things mechanical.

Dr. Finch

  • Deirdre’s therapist. Biological father of Natalie&Hope, legal guardian of Vicki, Neil, and eventually Augusten. He uses is position as a psychiatrist to wield a cult-like influence over his patients.

Hope Finch

  • Dr. Finch’s oldest, and most favorite daughter, who also doubles as his secretary. She is the first one to befriend Augusten when he comes into the house.

Natalie Finch

  • Dr. Finch’s daughter who eventually becomes Augusten's best friend.

Neil Bookman

  • A patient of Dr. Finch’s who later becomes his adopted son. After meeting Augusten, he becomes his lover at the age of 33 while Augusten is still only 13.


  • Dr. Finch’s Wife who is treated more like a maid.


  • Deirdre’s first lesbian lover. Deirdre and Fern leave each other after Fern refuses to leave her family to continue to be with her.


  • Deirdre’s second lover. She takes time off of school to visit Dr. Finch, and meets Deirdre through him. She is a rich, African American woman who seems to only like Deirdre because of her love of extremes in life. She paints her nails depending on her mood.

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