‘Fachidiot’. The Germans have a word for it

It doesn’t sound polite, and it isn’t.

The German word ‘Fachidiot’ – pronounced ‘Fack-ID-yot’ – refers to someone who has great subject knowledge in one area… but who doesn’t know or care what happens around them.

A Fach is a compartment in a larger piece of furniture, (like a small drawer in a cabinet) but in a figurative sense, can also mean specific knowledge in a broad field, as in civil engineering, or a particular artistic gift, such as a singer’s tone.

And an idiot is the same in German as in English.

So the word describes someone with a particular knowledge-base or skill; but one which is out of relationship with everyone around them.

The consequence can be a blinkered approach to a multi-faceted problem; or a lack of awareness or interest in the bigger picture and other people’s contributions.

There is probably a Fachidiot in us all, safe in our own tiny slice of truth, and uninterested in the bigger flow around us.

But just as water away from the flow grows stagnant, foul-smelling and unusable, so, if isolated, do our skills and ideas.

Our insights are better in relationship.

As E.M.Forster said, ‘Only connect.’