Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors is a film adaption of a memoir written by Augusten Burroughs. It takes place in the 1970s where young Augusten lives with a dysfunctional family; an alcoholic father and a delusional poet. After his parents’ divorce, his mother, Deidre Burroughs goes to see a psychiatrist named Dr. Finch. Incapable of raising Augusten, Deidre gives custody of her son to Dr. Finch, where he deals with an even more dysfunctional family. Deidre Burroughs is a poet who believes that she is meant to become a famous writer/poet.

She enters many of her poems to several magazines and newsletters, only to be rejected each time. Each rejection letter she receives, she still believes that she is a talented writer. Nearing the end of her marriage with Norman Burroughs, she believed that he was going to kill her and her son. Dr. Finch was the one who recommended them to divorce and gave Deidre her first medications. This was the beginning of her drug abuse. Later on in the movie, she would mix pills together. He also advised her to give him custody of Augusten so that she could focus on her writing career.

She got into several relationships with other women including a local minister’s wife and a patient from Dr. Finch. According to the DSM-IV-TR, Deidre is diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is described as a person who “demands and expects to be admired and praised by others and is limited in their capacity to appreciate others’ perspectives. ” (DSM-TR-IV, 1995-2012) One of the signs of NPR is one that “has a grandiose sense of self-importance. ” (Zimbardo ; Gerrig, 1999, pg. 662) Two years after her divorce with her husband, she sees him at a restaurant with his new fiancee.

She was very proud of the fact that her poem was published in little-known magazine and that her ‘hobby’ was quite lucrative, even though that was her second published writing. Another sign is that one “is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. ” Deirdre often dreams and has delusions about her on a big stage, receiving awards for her works throughout the film. She also holds many poetry workshops where she helps people form their ‘creative conscious. ’ This workshop is an excuse for the admiration of other people, which is another sign of NPR.

After her relationship with the local minister’s wife, Dr. Finch introduces her to one of his patients and says that she needs someone who worships her and is willing to feed her talent. The moment that relationship ended, she was quick to accept Augusten back into her arms, but she has a manic episode where the police had to stabilize her. Probably one of the reasons of her divorce was due to the fact that her husband did not really care about her writing hobby. One more example of a person with NPR is that he/she “lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. (DSM-TR-IV, 1995-2012) From the beginning of the film, she has shown that characteristic. For example, when she gave away Augusten to Dr. Finch, she didn’t even tell him about the adoption papers until much later. She never considered his feelings and only thought about herself. The only time she truly cared for him was when she needed him. It is unknown what could have contributed to Deirdre’s development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However, it is known that “Narcissistic personality disorder might develop as the result of neglect or abuse and trauma inflicted by parents or other authority figures during childhood.

The disorder usually is evident by early adulthood. ” (Cleveland Clinic, 2011) It was briefly mentioned in the film that Deirdre was ‘oppressed’ by her family and her husband. Other than that, the amount of rejection letters and Dr. Finch led her into a worse state. Dr. Finch basically was the cause of her to be estranged from everyone, including her own son. By prescribing her mysterious medications, she always seemed to be delirious and depressed. When she started to mix pills, that’s where she would go into manic states. It’s no wonder why Dr.

Finch got his medical practice license stripped off of him.


  1. BehaveNet Inc. (1995). Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Retrieved 2012, from       http://behavenet. com/narcissistic-personality-disorder
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (1995). Diseases and Conditions. Retrieved 2011, from       http://my.clevelandclinic. org/disorders/personality_disorders/ hic_narcissistic_personality_disorder. aspx
  3. Zimbardo, P. G. ; Gerrig, R. J. (1999). Psychological Disorders. In P. G. Zimbardo ; R. J. Gerrig (Authors), Psychology and Life (15th ed. , pp. 664-665). Longman.

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