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Otherkin are people who identify as spiritually or mentally non-human. The term can either exclude or encompass those that identify as animals that have verifiably existed on this planet (called therians), but always includes everyone who identifies themselves as something other than human, including mythological creatures, extraterrestrials, and inanimate objects.
History and subsets
The otherkin subculture grew out of the elven online communities of the early-to-mid-1990s. The first recorded use of the word "otherkin" appeared in July 1990 and the variant otherkind was reported as early as April 1990. The word "otherkind" was initially coined from the word "elfinkind", to refer to non-elf others who joined the communities.
Therians are a similar subculture, identifying as animals of species that have verifiably existed on Earth. Otherkin usually consider therians to be a subgroup of otherkin, though some therians prefer to distance themselves from otherkin.
In 1994 the term "therianthropy" was just coming into use because some felt lycanthropy was wolf-centric and wanted something to include other species. "Therian" and "thrope" are shortened versions of "therianthropy" and also came about into common use around 1994-1995.
Fictionkin are people who identify as either fictional characters or members of a fictional species. Conversely, fictionkin are widely accepted by soulbonders. Otakukin are people who think they are reincarnations of fictitious characters from Japanese anime, manga, and video games.
Like some other otherkin, some fictionkin also explain their existence with reincarnation, believing that fictions have been realities in other dimensions. This of course strongly implies that original fiction writers do not really deserve the credit for creating their characters, leading to some interesting discussions around copyright law and intellectual theft.
Body dysphoria and other-limbs
Some otherkin suffer from psychological discomfort due to feeling trapped in the wrong body. Reportedly, some even experience psychosomatic symptoms of sensations in non-existent wings, tails, and other body parts. Many otherkin also experience bodily dysphoria and even to feel the existence of body parts that aren't really there.
Scientific American describes supernumerary phantom limbs (SPL) as being an even rarer condition than body integrity dysphoria (in which people want to have one or more of their limbs amputated as they feel these limbs do not belong to them), and that it usually occurs following a stroke. Mostly this feels much the same as the phantom limbs of amputees — an illusion, from which sensations sometimes emanate. In a small number of cases patients report that they can also see, feel and use the limb. This phenomenon has not been investigated thoroughly, because there are so few reported cases.
There is an overlap with the extreme body modification subculture; numerous cases exist of people getting extreme plastic surgery to resemble the animal or monster that they identify with or as.
“”One person even said their toes were swelling up and turning color, and that they itched and ached. So many people said "shifting!" and I actually bothered to look those symptoms up and found a thing known as chilblains which is a form of athlete's foot I think, and guess what? That chick's symptoms match chilblains to a T.
Physical shifting or p-shifting is when otherkin physically shape shift into their kintype. This is of course impossible and dangerous. Symptoms of illnesses are ignored as they may be signs of p-shifting. Thankfully, most otherkin know that p-shifting is impossible, and they warn children against it. Unfortunately, many young otherkin are falling for the myth that p-shifting is possible.
Confusing otherkin and furries
Furries are often confused with otherkin. However, furries are those who are fans of anthropomorphic animals as a trope, while otherkin identify as animals or as mythical/fictional creatures. However, many otherkin are furries, often to cope with species dysphoria or to express their non-human identity.
Those who have dissociative identity disorder and have developed a method of loci-esque mental location as a way of meeting up are sometimes represented "internally" as their own character due to being otherkin.
Similarly, the terms "kin" and "kinning" are sometimes used to describe identification with a fictional character by those in the "Kinning for fun" community. Needless to say, the usage of these terms by the KFF community is considered offensive by the otherkin community, and the word "kin" is not used as a verb by actual otherkin.
- Otherkin Timeline: The Recent History of Elfin, Fae, and Animal People
- Therians Against Merging Terminology. felkes.tumblr.com
- Intellectual property posts
- Scientific American. April 14, 2009. The Mind-Body Problem
- The problem with P-Shifting Just another otherkin
- Physical Shift Therian Wikia
- Why Physical Shifting is Bollocks The Green Wolf Tumblr
- A revised Otherkin FAQ
- What is Physical Shifting?