Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.
I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You seem to be a normal person with normal expectations of what adult life should be like. You are describing, though, in your friend someone who does not appear to be normal and who does not have the ability to have a normal view of what adult life would be like. And to further complicate this, he has parents who are enabling a dysfunctional view.
I cannot, of course, diagnose in a forum of this type based on information presented here. That he was diagnosed with mild Aspereger Syndrome (AS) helps tremendously in giving a framework for understanding your friend's pattern of behavior. Especially his tendency to use people for needs rather than to form true reciprocal relationships, which accounts for the first diagnosis of social phobia. With AS, it is not social phobia, it is part of the disorder that there is an inability to form proper social relationships. As the AS gets worse, the symptoms get worse. Some people with AS can't look at people in the eye, for example, or can't sustain a meaningful conversation. That can be interpreted as social phobia at first.
That he's high functioning at work is very consistent with mild AS. When there are tasks that require non-emotional skills, AS people can perform very well. But when it comes to people skills, they have a very hard time and they tend to not do well in those jobs or those aspects of jobs.
But there is another factor here that is tragic: his mother's enabling. If you want to have a more detailed understanding of this, I recommend doing a Google search on "enabling". I recall doing that once for someone and the top entries seemed useful for a general knowledge.
Now, in his mother's defense, with AS it is very hard to raise a kid once they get a little older because that's when they stop being "normal" in social ways. And the mother most likely didn't have a clue how to handle this. She just knew probably that her son was having difficulties so she tried to be helpful. As he got older, when he didn't get any better, she just got used to doing things for him and it became part of her life and something natural. But it is enabling.
And it fed into the father's alcohol issues. That's where her enabling really became probelmatic because the father also enables him as it lets the father defend his own problems. So the three of them have created a web of entanglement based on enabling. Not at all healthy.
I don't know if you want to take the time to read more about AS. But if so, let's start with a very brief synopsis of AS by one of the top experts in AS, Tony Attwood:
If that made you want to learn more, you can continue with one of these two more scholarly discussions. This first one has an AS quiz at the end. Scroll down to it and just read the questions and see informally whether a lot of these apply to him. No need to formally try to use the quiz at all:
Or instead (or in addition if you have the patience) here is a US government article on AS with the diagnostic criteria that may be easier to navigate through than the quiz above:
So, again, once you said he was diagnosed with AS the picture became much more clear and in focus. And the enabling of the parents made sense more as I could imagine them dealing, when he was younger, with his lack of social skills and abilities and his lack of understanding how to be with people in good and healthy ways. Unfortunately, they enabled his lack of skills rather than helping him gain those skills.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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