The Silicon Syndrome

Wearily Ritz' tear-stained face appeared before me. She's wife to an IT/engineer personality who thrives on his job, his technical genius, his career advancement, and his inventions. Ritz starves, from her husband's lack of understanding of her needs, from lack of emotional content, from absence of intimacy, from emotional disconnection.

Author/psychotherapist Jean Hollands calls the union of an engineer/scientist with a non-scientific partner the "silicon syndrome." It refers to a cluster of symptoms that results when a technically oriented thinker mates, works with, or loves a more emotionally oriented person. A major symptom of this is a crippling lack of communication and connection. The "silicon syndrome" couple does not know how to understand and translate each other.

I came to know the "silicon syndrome" in the form of pain in my family circles and in couples who shared their agony with me in therapy. I conduct my practice helping numerous couples heal from individual and relationship wounds. I recognize the "silicon syndrome" whenever the wife says "But he's always busy with his machine or computer." Or, "He's more interested in his technical stuff in the office than he is in me." I noticed that more serious symptoms appear like alcoholism, depression, pornography, affairs, or some type of addiction to signify that there is a disconnect in the marriage.

There could be hope. A purpose of healing is to mend the "silicon syndrome" relationship when it gets out of balance. "Silicon Syndrome" couples can learn how to live, work, and love together even when they're different and do things differently. It can be done. The work required may itch, scratch, or hurt for awhile but it can save the relationship.