The “hedgehog’s dilemma”, this survival solution when faced with toxic loved ones

The “hedgehog’s dilemma”, this survival solution when faced with toxic loved ones

When you are the victim of a toxic environment, the only solution is sometimes to distance yourself, without completely cutting ties. This is called the hedgehog dilemma. Explanations.

Do you know the hedgehog dilemma? This animal, which hibernates in winter, needs its peers to survive the cold, particularly during its first year of life. But paradoxically, it should not be too close to them either, otherwise it could be bitten and risk infection.

This image, thought up by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in 1850 and then by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s, perfectly illustrates the behavior of certain people towards their toxic loved ones.

Find the right distance to avoid suffering

In dysfunctional families, where violence and toxic relationships reign, distancing is necessary. This allows us to set limits, in order to protect ourselves from the suffering that those around us could inflict on us. According to Anne-Sophie Cheron, interviewed by Marie Claire magazine, adopting this strategy allows you to not completely break ties. “When the family does not know how to manage or no longer knows how to manage, there can be a total breakdown of ties. Others can “play the hedgehog”, reduce contact, so as not to get caught up in patterns of destruction“.

Moving away, a solution that we choose more by default than by desire

When you think about it, who wants to voluntarily cut ties with their family or distance them from their life, for no reason? Person. But sometimes, when a loved one is violent or affected by psychological or psychiatric disorders, this is no longer a choice, but a necessity. The physical and emotional distance established then allows us to protect ourselves.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Learn to choose your relationships, to better appreciate them

But breaking up with loved ones is never an easy decision. It can be a source of guilt. We need to take a step back and understand why making this decision is essential for our mental health.

At the same time, it is also an opportunity to question the other relationships that we can maintain, with friends or work colleagues, for example, and to strengthen them. Because sometimes, despite all the attempts made, it is not possible to ease the existing tensions with those close to you.