Mental Model Mondays #10: The Hydra Effect

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Hey friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

The Hydra Effect has always been a mental model I wanted to talk about, for a long time. It’s one of the first models I usually think about before making a decision, since it’s so interesting and, let’s face it, has such a cool-sounding name.

Alright, that’s probably sufficient fanboying over a thinking concept. Let’s get to it.


The Hydra Effect is used to describe situations and counter-intuitive effects of actions that try to reduce/solve a problem, but instead result in the problem multiplying even more.

Basically, have you ever heard of the legendary Greek monster, the Hydra? It supposedly had several long heads which, if one was cut off, two more would grow in its place.

The hydra effect pretty much encapsulates that monster’s power. Whenever you try to reduce or destroy a problem (cut off a Hydra head), the problem becomes worse and even multiplies (more Hydra heads grow).

Picture credit: Grzegorz Rutkowski


-When police take down/arrest one drug dealer, potentially more dangerous ones will almost always immediately take their place, and their clients. An example of the Hydra effect.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far, stay safe and I’ll hopefully see you in the next MMM

(Please ignore the fact this wasn’t posted on a Monday, things got a bit busy not gonna lie, thanks)😅

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