Teen With Too Much Esteem


My 15 year old son does not seem to have or want any bond with people, including his own family. He says that he does not care about anyone except himself, including his own family members. By his own admission, other people are to be used strategically, to advance his own interests, in a Machiavellian kind of way (he read Machiavelli on his own initiative and espouses its philosophy). He can be sharp-tongued, haughty, and arrogant, says he doesn’t care about offending people, and acts accordingly. He lacks empathy, doesn’t have any close friendships but has a select few friends that he associates with while at school or during after-school activities. On other hand, he enjoys conversing with us, his family, about school, current events, and intellectual issues, gets straight A’s at school, is a leader in his boy scout troop (where he performs many community service projects), excels in extracurricular activities, and can be humorous and enjoyable to be around. Recently he told me that he thinks he has Asperger’s and would like to get help to improve his social skills. His motivation, he said, is not because he cares about other people or wants more or better friendships, but because he wants to have better social skills so that he can better use others to his advantage. I am concerned that he is becoming more and more Machiavellian, devoid of empathy and meaningful connection to others. Any advice on how to address this behavior?

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