Hedgehog dilemma


What does Hedgehog dilemma mean?

The Hedgehog dilemma describes the concept of isolating oneself from others.

Hedgehogs have spikes, but they are social animals, so when two hedgehogs want to get close together, they may easily harm each other with their spikes.

The Hedgehogs dilemma addresses this issue in a psychological context.

When two people become very emotionally closed, this creates an increased possibility of them psychologically hurting each other.

Because of this, commitment issues evolve, or anti-social behaviour is developed, so that a person who has been previously hurt will distance themselves from others to avoid getting hurt again.


What's the origin of Hedgehog dilemma?

The analogy originates from Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher (1788-1860).

He described a number of porcupines huddling together for warmth, but because they ended up damaging each other, they would pull away from each other. This would leave them cold, so they would proceed with huddling together again.

At the end, they found it was best for them to keep some distance.

It was then adopted by Sigmund Freud, and added into a psychological context.

Spread & Usage

How did Hedgehog dilemma spread?

The Hedgehog dilemma is frequently used to describe psychological commitment issues in modern day.

Media has also taken its roll, for example the award winning short-film “Henry”, where the hedgehog eventually finds comfort with a turtle, as his shell protects him from the hedgehog’s spines.

External resources

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