He also has to deal with the fact that his father not only becomes a raging asshole bent on his son's destruction the instant he becomes personally inconvenienced by whatever it is that Michael might do to him no matter how trivial the 'damage' might be, he can't bring himself to respect the career that he drifted into because it isn't "practical", as evidenced by this smarmy defense of being an unreflective clod afraid of asking the question "What do you believe, John Patterson and why do you believe it?":
Apparently Mike is getting close to finishing his novel. I always hated writing essays, and this project of his seems like one giant essay to me, so I can't imagine how he could either want to do it, or more importantly enjoy the writing!
As I've said before, writing essays exposes John to the terrifying question "Why?" and the terrifying answer "Because I, John Patterson, am a total f*cking greaseball: and is therefore terrible; this means that Mike's doing so is unworthy because sooner or later, John himself will be faithfully depicted in his books in all his sordid worthlessness.
The end result of the two boomer assholes subjecting Mike to an evil experiment is to create someone so downtrodden and confused that he doesn't even realize how miserable he is. The smug smile on Mike's face comes from the fact that he doesn't quite get that he's been cheated out of being loved for who he was supposed to have been by a moronic monster mom who thinks that a child is supposed to be a doll she can put away when she gets bored.