The nature of the things we experience is critical to defining what we know or believe about Therianthropy. We are what we are primarily because we have these inhuman experiences. The aim of this discussion is to explore the persistent or transient nature of these inhuman experiences within the context of a unified spectrum.
First a few disclaimers are in order perhaps. Throughout the evolution of our community many terms have come into and fallen out of popular usage. The need for having a term to describe our experiences in discussion is unavoidable. We are using human language to communicate and human language uses terms.
The goal of this discussion therefore should not be to validate or debate terms but to place the terms we have into a context with each other that is useful for understanding what we experience.
Another word of caution is advised about equating experiences with the validity of one’s inhuman identity. Though it is true that our inhuman experiences are fundamental, it cannot be said that this alone defines Therianthropy.
For example, it is a regular occurrence for two individuals with the same theriotype and perhaps even some similar beliefs to have two very different sets of experiences to share as ‘evidence’. Thus for the purpose of this discussion, concepts of Self Perception
are treated separately.
The end points used here for the observed spectrum of inhuman experiences in our community are ‘Steady State’
. Association with already established terms will be mentioned wherever appropriate.
means largely unchanging. This individual is having inhuman experiences of some kind most or all of the time. I am one of these individuals today but it is interesting to note this was not always the case and that in itself is not an unusual story.
The following terms quoted from our website describe the steady state side of this spectrum of experience:
Therian Guide Wrote:Contherian: A kind of nonshifting therian that has similar experiences as other therians but who do not shift- rather, they are constantly shifted into an animal state, with no variation. This state can be any one of the shifting types listed below.
Suntherian / Vacillant: A kind of therian who, similarly to the contherian, constantly experiences his nonhuman side and do not experience mental shifts; however, they can experience changes on a sliding scale, or combinations between human and animal mindsets, but generally in a manner that is not as extreme as with shifters. Also called "vacillant" in the case of otherkin.
Today I am best described as Suntherian. Although what I am experiencing is always somewhere in between human and inhuman, there are definitely variations or ‘spikes’ towards a more or less inhuman kind of experience.
At first glance there is considerable variation in the way individuals describe their steady state experiences. Upon close inspection however, much of this variability is better explained by overlap with the concepts of Shifting, Self-Perception and Identity.
For example, some consistently experience themselves as their theriotype animal operating in a human body. Yet others of the same theriotype consistently experience themselves as an integrated whole that lies somewhere in between human and inhuman. Both are clearly having inhuman experiences most or all of the time.
For another example, two individuals with very different inhuman identities will frequently be seen to describe virtually the same experience of being ‘somewhere in between’ at all times. All of these individuals are having inhuman experiences most or all of the time and are best described here as 'Steady State.'
(good spot for some quoted examples(?)pending)
The other end point for this spectrum of inhuman experience is Intermittent. As implied by the term, these individuals have inhuman experiences only part of the time and their experiences are usually described in a way that is clearly distinct from their ‘normal’ human consciousness.
Polarized would perhaps also be a good word to describe the nature of this intermittent experience, as there is often a clear polarity between human and inhuman operating modes in the way these individuals describe things.
Below are the rest of the terms found under ‘Types of Therians’ on our website. Note that this intermittent end of our spectrum is being somewhat implied by ‘standard therian/shifter, yet in actual fact this is not always the case.
So called standard therians and polytherians alike can also have the suntherian experience of always being ‘in between mentally’ for example. Here the delicate interplay between Identity/Self-Perception and Shifting/Experience becomes even more obvious:
Therian Guide Wrote:"Standard" Therian / Shifter: Someone who identifies as a single earthly animal, and can have various experiences around this type, including mental or phantom shifts.
Polytherian: A therian possessing multiple types at the same time, and can experience anything possible for each of them. Some of these types may appear more important than others, but it's not always the case.
Nonshifting Therian: A therian who does not experience shifts under any condition, but still identifies as non-human through other means.
As previously mentioned, overlap with the related concepts of shifting, self-perception and identity is a common source of confusion when we try to describe and discuss our experience of therianthropy.
This is especially true of those who not only have intermittent experiences but also have changeable inhuman identities. for a Polytherian, ‘What is me and what isn’t?’ frequently becomes a perpetual debate!
For a contrasting example, a Contherian who has always been this way might sometimes wonder what the heck there is to describe, discuss or debate in the first place! After all, it’s hard to describe something when one has never known any different.
Stepping away from the direct association between self-perception/identity and experiences may help to resolve some confusion.
Now then, having defined these two end points, the concept of a spectrum itself means there is some variability or fluidity involved. This is indeed what can be observed within our community.
As previously mentioned, during my earliest years of experiencing therianthropy my actual inhuman experiences were more on the intermittent end of this spectrum. As I grew older and more accustomed to therianthropy, both my identity and the range of my experiences ‘settled’ to the point where my experiences today are best described as steady state.
This concept of settling was discussed in this thread/poll:https://forums.therian-guide.com/Thread-...e-Settling
While the original point of this discussion was more clearly aimed at identity, the description of individual’s experiences changing from steady state to intermittent through time is also quite obvious.
Other individuals have also reported changes in the persistence of their inhuman experiences over time. Still others experience a range of experiences somewhere in between steady state and intermittent with no clear trend.
(Other quoted examples here(?)(pending))
To conclude this discussion, a few words about the above mentioned overlapping concepts is in order.
One of the few widely accepted ‘facts’ about Therianthropy it that it has something to do with our identity. Therefore, it is central to our self-perception. However, a similar sliding scale exists within our community with regard to identity and self-perception, so the overlap between the two concepts can be very confusing.
For one who is engaged in the process of trying to explore their identity and understand their experiences, being able to separate these concepts and address each one independently may help to resolve a lot of this confusion. Although the two aspects are closely linked, Experience does NOT equal Identity or vice versa!
It should also be noted that the terms quoted above are clearly explained in a way that relates directly to Shifting. For much the same reasons stated above for Identity/Self-Perception, Shifting is being treated here as a separate concept.
Shifting itself is a kind of experience, so the direct association does make sense. On the other paw, the exact same kind of shift will sometimes be described by individuals at opposite ends of the inhuman experience spectrum. For example, both a Standard Therian and a Suntherian may describe a phantom shift in virtually the same way. This again highlights the importance of being able to address these closely related concepts separately.
In conclusion, learning to recognize whether our inhuman experiences are steady state or intermittent can help us understand ourselves and our experience of therianthropy. Regardless of how and where our personal experiences align, it is good to know that we are all part of a unified spectrum.
Soooooo....now that we have this rolling......
As you can see there are a few 'blank' spots left open for direct quotes or further links, as needed. It is very important to the success of this project that input is gathered from as many differing sources as possible.
On a personal note, if I have to start 'knocking on doors' asking members for permission to quote them or begging them to submit links, that is what I will do. However this will put me far outside my comfort zone, as initiating contact with people is Not
one of my strong points. It may be good for me to do this sometimes but....
Not only will volunteering
your help make things easier for me personally, it will also set a good example
for others to hopefully follow. Please! If you wrote a thread or know of one that seems relevant to this discussion, Link it up in the replies!
Thank you so much. I hope this discussion will prove to be useful for those of us struggling to understand and explain our personal experiences with therianthropy.