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Porcupines and Dilemmas

Claudia Miclaus
Have you tried hugging a porcupine? How much intimacy do we need? Read on to learn about their personality.
Porcupines did garner a lot of attention from the part of indigenous people in North America and also by great philosophers and psychologists, Schopenhauer and Freud. But, what was that all related to? Arthur Schopenhauer wrote Parerga and Paralipomena in 1851, where he made a parable about these creatures and their dilemmas related to the winter.
The porcupines crowded themselves very close together, one cold winter's day, so as to profit by one another's warmth, and save themselves from being frozen to death. But soon, they felt one another's quills, which induced them to separate again.
So, they were driven backward and forward from one trouble to the other, till they managed to find a mean distance at which they could most tolerably exist.
Freud later on quoted Schopenhauer in one of the footnotes to his 1921 essay entitled Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. In his writing, he spoke about the dilemma aspect in relation to the so-called sediment of feelings of aversion and hostility that is brought about by any relationship that intends to last for a long period.
Freud asks rhetorical questions regarding the concept of intimacy and close communication. How much intimacy can we endure? In other words, how much do we need it to survive in this world? Because, the need for it is one of the most common and natural human needs.
Porcupines are some of the most interesting creatures on Earth owing to their physical appearance and behavior. They are strong rodents that can be found in Africa, North America, and Canada.
The African species is more dangerous comparatively, as it has longer quills. Generally, porcupines prefer wooden areas. They can weigh up to 35 pounds and live for about 5 years in natural environment (and for about 10 years in captivity).
The word "porcupine" is derived from the French word "porc d'├ępine", which means a thorny pig. Since ancient times, people believed that these rodents could throw their quills at their enemies; but, that was, in fact, their gesture to get rid of loose and old quills.
They do not shoot their quills to hunt their food or to defend themselves, these elements serve as protection. Whenever the porcupine feels threatened, he raises his pines, which look like an enormous pin cushion.
Those quills are dangerous for his adversaries, as they can go deep inside the skin and cause severe wounds. They are also hard to remove.
Porcupines are also creatures of the night. They have very weak eye vision, which is nonetheless compensated by their great sense of smell. They adore eating fir leaves, seeds, flowers, nuts, all sorts of grasses, berries, water plants, etc. They are also crazy about salt.
They spend their days sleeping in trees or taking care of their newborn babies. The young porcupines can make very fast movements, unlike their parents, and they can also be very playful and active during the day. These animals are also great at swimming.
Of all species, the North American porcupine is commonly found in Canada. The largest male species can weigh up to 24 pounds and grow up to 90 cm high. The funny thing is their reaction when attacked. They turn their backs towards their enemies and lash their quilled tails, which can prove to be dangerous for predators.
With all the wild side, these animals, in fact, live among us. There are people who seem to have a similar personality. All they expect from any situation is being offended by others.
Because of that, trying to get close to such people is similar to the brave attempting to hug porcupine. Due to their lack of response to social interaction, they are held at an arm's length by others, which creates a vicious circle, as it gives such people reasons to keep distance from their fellow humans.