Introvert, Lone Wolf and Porcupine dilemma

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer came with explanation on why people maintain distance from one another, it is called porcupine dilemma.

A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. The porcupines were “driven backwards and forwards from one trouble to the other,” until they found “a mean distance at which they could most tolerably exist.”

Sigmund Freud found this concept so interesting that one day he declared that, “I am going to America to catch sight of a wild porcupine and to give some lectures.” A metallic porcupine is still kept on his table in Freud’s museum.


Concept was used to explain introverts and why people maintain distance and avoid coming very to each other.

But maintaining distance from group also has it disadvantages. Some wolves are thrown out from pack or leave on their own. They become solitary hunters or Lone wolf. There may be advantages of living alone ex. no need to share hunt. But at the same time, lone wolves have difficulty hunting, as large prey like moose, elk, bison are nearly impossible for a single wolf to bring down alone; this task is only possible if they hunt as a pack. Lone wolves will generally hunt smaller animals or scavenge carrion.

wolf hunting[1]

This can be applied corporate life also, like porcupine dilemma, team undergo storming and norming before they start performing.

Introverts like lone wolf miss working on large projects or miss being part of influential organisational network. They may become invisible on top management’s radar and confine themselves to small, insignificant projects or get bypassed during appraisal/promotions.

lone wolf


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