From a young woman in the U.S.: My 14 year old brother is the issue. We as family understand that teens often go through this phase where they will get mad and not want to be with the family. Our issue is he spends all his time playing violent games on the laptop and not do homework or help out around the house. His grades are suffering, he refuses to make friends, and keeps to himself.
When we take away the laptop because he abusing it, he goes into rage. Not only are his laptop habits bad, he doesn’t like to shower (we have to make him), he doesn’t care for dental hygiene, doesn’t like to do his laundry, wears the same clothes everyday (we have to make him change), and stays holed up in his room.
More on his anger, he’s very irritable and always mad. He can’t stay still and always has the urge to bother another sibling. Every little thing triggers him into some sort of anger. When we try to talk to him about, he claims he never does anything wrong. He says everyone is the problem and not him. He demands that we listen to him and give him what he wants, but he does not reciprocate. He states that he does not care about anything, but wants us to care for him. He says he doesn’t need us and only wants his laptop.
When he is not given what he wants, he gets suicidal and homicidal. Multiple times he has stated his life is not worth living without a laptop and have said things along the lines of “we’ll be sorry.” We tried taking him to counseling, but he refuses to go. He won’t go because he says nothing is wrong with him.
Are we missing something here? Are we making this problem bigger than it is? How do we help him if he doesn’t want the help. I feel like his anger is not normal because I have two other brothers younger than me, but older than him, who did not lash out the way he did. We’ve talked to his doctor, but he wasn’t much help. What do we do now? Thanks!
Thank you for writing. You are absolutely right to be concerned. What you are describing is not normal teenage angst. Your family is not making the problem “bigger than it is.” It is already far too big. I’m sorry your doctor wasn’t helpful, but not all medical doctors have the training or experience to deal effectively with what is clearly a mental health issue.
I strongly urge you and your family to seek out a licensed family counselor even if, especially if, your brother refuses to go. People don’t need to have a mental health issue themselves to see a therapist. Often our job as therapists is to help a family figure out how to get their loved one the help they need. A counselor who knows local resources can offer your family both practical help and support as you deal with your brother.
I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter alone. However, I can say that your brother’s behavior is consistent with a diagnosis of depression. He may have retreated into the world of the laptop and games because he feels he is safer there. He also may feel (and be) more competent in the company of other gamers on the Net than in real life, face to face, interactions with peers. Gamers only care about how someone plays the game. Peers judge each other on their appearance and social skills. Your brother avoids all judgment by focusing only on his laptop.
He has also become quite entitled. He is essentially making you all responsible for his health and well-being. In order to get you all to let him avoid life, he is manipulating you with his anger and blackmailing the whole family with his treats of suicide and homicide. I know it can be terrifying, especially if he is saying things like “you’ll be sorry”. This, again, is material for a local therapist to assess with you. The therapist will make recommendations for how to deal with his threats as well as for how to engage him in treatment.
I wish you well.