Having a loved one with a mental illness can sometimes feel a lot like trying to love a porcupine. Schopenhauer and Freud have used a metaphor called the Porcupine Dilemma to describe what they feel is the state of the individual in relation to others.
This dilemma suggests that despite goodwill and the desire to have a close reciprocal relationship, porcupines cannot avoid hurting others with their sharp quills for reasons they cannot avoid. This typically results in cautious behavior and unstable relationships.
To work through this dilemma, if you have a loved one suffering with mental illness, consider the following strategies:
- Get involved in a community support program for emotional support and camaraderie.
- Engage in self-care.
- Encourage your loved one to initiate mental health services.
- Communicate openly about your feelings, wants, and needs.
Georgetta Harris-Wyatt, MS
WKPIC Doctoral Intern