With the film adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors in production, the family of a Northampton psychiatrist has sued the author for his thinly-veiled but allegedly inaccurate portrayal of the doctor. The family seeks “a public retraction of the book and a public statement that it is fiction and not a memoir.” According to the complaint, “Burroughs identified the Turcottes in media appearances, including an interview in People magazine, and … he presented them as ‘an unhygienic, foul, and mentally unstable cult engaged in bizarre and at times criminal activity.'”
In an 2003 interview with Bookslut, Burroughs claimed documentation is available:
I have a newspaper clipping from the period, and there’s an old article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette from — I don’t see the date on here — but it has the doctor’s name: “Dr. Finch appeared today before the State Board of Registration of Medicine in Boston to answer charges of gross conduct.” And the headline is “Dr. Finch Again Faces Investigation.” This was my “father,” and he’s got a whole bunch of newspaper clippings here. And the doctor was notorious in that area, absolutely notorious, so I always felt it was laziness on the part of reporters to question [the veracity]. All you have to do is search western Massachusetts doctors in the ’70s, in North Hampton — how many psychiatrists were there? — and you can access a lot of stories, lots and lots of stories. For example, scooping turds out of the toilet and writing about it, that’s something that people were like, “Did he really do that?” And you know, that is actually documented. He would write press releases, and draw these things up, and send them to newspapers.