The Year of the Porcupine 2020
The porcupine’s dilemma is a metaphor about the challenges of human intimacy. It describes a situation in which a group of porcupines seek to move close to one another to share heat during cold weather. They must remain apart because they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines. Though they all share the intention of a close reciprocal relationship, this may not occur, for reasons they cannot avoid.
Firstly Arthur Schopenhauer, and then Sigmund Freud, have used this situation to describe what they feel is the state of the individual in relation to others in society.
The porcupine’s dilemma suggests that, despite goodwill, human intimacy occurs with the risk of mutual harm, and what results can often be cautious behaviour and weak relationships. With the porcupine’s dilemma, one is recommended to use moderation in affairs with others both because of self-interest, as well as out of consideration for others. The porcupine’s dilemma is often used to illustrate introversion and self-imposed isolation.
One popular therapy is called the reverse porcupine. Sounds painful.