Lessons From: Neon Genesis Evangelion

How to deal with the Hedgehog's Dilemma

Neon Genesis Evangelion came out back when I was born in '95 and is still one of the best anime ever made to this day. I know that a lot of people are pretty much against watching anime in all forms, but if you do decide to watch it one day, give this series a try, as it's an interesting character study, and we're going to view one aspect of it. I won't get too deep into Evangelion because you honestly could write a text the size of Finnegan's Wake and not cover every detail that you have to know about concerning symbolism and philosophical messages in the story.

The Hedgehog's Dilemma is a psychological phenomenon in which the problems of human intimacy arrive. Say you have a group of hedgehogs which want to get closer to each other, but in doing so, hurt themselves and therefore must remain apart. They want a reciprocal relation but they cannot achieve one because of their spines, which in the psychological case would be reasons they can't really avoid. Schopenhauer and Freud believed this to be the state of an individual to others in society and that intimacy can't occur without mutual harm, so one must be moderate in his affairs with others in order to protect oneself and others.

In Evangelion you see this with the main character, Shinji, who never really knew his father, and as he got to know him tended to regret it. His caretaker, Misato, was in love with a man named Kaji and though she got a pretty strong emotional high from the relationship, she was also hurt by his aloofness. His father had a lover, who fell harder and harder for him to the point where she eventually did something morally unforgivable and killed herself. The only sane relationship, in fact, seems to be between Misato and Ritsuko, both of which had been friends for a great deal of their lives but never seemed to be too intimate. It was, in fact, Ritsuko who mentioned the Hedgehog's Dilemma to her friend and they both seemed to understand it pretty well.

You realize as the series goes on that pretty much everyone is deeply flawed in some manner, and the way they deal with each other changes a lot as they get to know each other, and they do hurt themselves in different ways as they do. Again, a few characters actually know how to deal with it pretty well, probably because they've had to do it before.

What can we learn from this?

The answer to this problem is not really that complicated. The more obvious way is to actually deal with people more to the point where you realize that, indeed, everybody's flawed and they'll find a way to hurt you eventually, as will you them, even if you both have the best of intentions and even genuinely love one another. This can go to the point where you even feel that some stranger could treat you better than your partner and is where the Dilemma treads on dangerous territory, for it can lead to rash actions by either party.

Like many answers in psychological matters, the way to deal with the Hedgehog's Dilemma is to simply put yourself out there, and to manage your expectations. You have to listen to others, see who they really are, and allow them to be like that and not expect them to be any different, and you must let them do the same with you. 

Pretty much, don't be a dick. 

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Lessons From: Neon Genesis Evangelion

How to deal with the Hedgehog's Dilemma Neon Genesis Evangelion came out back when I was born in '95 and is still one of th...