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Silverman, M.A. (2003). THE SINGLE WOMAN-MARRIED MAN SYNDROME. By Richard Tuch, M.D. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 2000. 310 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 72(2):518-524.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(2):518-524

THE SINGLE WOMAN-MARRIED MAN SYNDROME. By Richard Tuch, M.D. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 2000. 310 pp.

Review by:
Martin A. Silverman

The following quip by Helen Rowland, American writer, journalist, and humorist (1876-1950), was cited in a New Jersey newspaper, the Star-Ledger, on September 9, 2002, under the heading “Thought for the Day”: “Nothing so annoys a man as to hear a woman promising to love him ‘forever’ when he merely wanted her to love him for a few weeks” (p. 23). Ms. Rowland did not know when she penned these words that she was foretelling the publication of The Single Woman-Married Man Syndrome, a book about a particular type of extramarital affair to which her observation aptly applies.

The author, Richard Tuch, a psychoanalyst in California, describes a particular constellation that can lead to an extramarital affair. A man is seriously dissatisfied in his relationship with his wife but cannot confront and resolve the problems between them. He enters into an affair with a single woman, whom he expects to inflate his damaged ego, restore his wounded selfimage, and soothe his injured pride. The woman who fills this role for him does so because she is acting out a neurotic, oedipal fantasy in which she hopes to wrest him away from his wife and thereby achieve an unconscious victory over her own mother. Each participant in the affair, Tuch observes, is destined to meet with disappointment.

The affair, we are told, derives from “complementary motivations and behaviors of two individuals that happen to fit together like matching pieces of a jigsaw puzzle” (p.

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