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The Definition of Therianthropy
Amourosa
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Post: #1
The Definition of Therianthropy
Over at werelist we were having this fantastic little discussion about the definition of therianthropy, sparked mainly by my saying that, because I did not identify AS a wolf, I was not a therian.

Turns out, therianthropy isn't so easy to define. So, since werelist certainly isn't the only forum with therians, I wanted to see what kind of consensus we might be able to get over here.

Some things to think about:
1) Does being a therian mean you identify AS an animal?
2) Does being a therian mean you experience some form of shifting (contherian/suntherian/other constantly shifted form included)
3) Does therianthropy HAVE to have a behavioral component or can it be something you just feel and know is right?
4) What about the physiological aspects of being a therian, such as genetic disorders, and various other biological abnormalities that may occur due to therianthropy?
5) Can you have a definition that allows us to define something we can't understand or explain, largely because we don't know what causes it?
- Think of all the different ideas about where therianthropy comes from: spiritual, physiological, neurobiological, psychological, etc.

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2011-04-20 1:36
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Post: #2
Re: The Definition of Therianthropy
Amourosa Wrote:Turns out, therianthropy isn't so easy to define.

I disagree, I think Otherkin and Therianthropy are very simple to define. It's all the extra stuff that the definition implies or hints at that can get confusing (like "as an animal" versus "with an animal"). That stuff is then left up to the individual to elaborate on. But I really think that the base definition can and should be simple and easy to understand.

After Sonne posted her thoughts on the Werelist for her definition, I've come to like this definition: "An individual who is, feels, and/or believes s/he is in part or whole (non-physically) one or more non-human animals on an integral, personal level."

The current definition I have on my website is this: "The belief that all or part of the soul is some type of non-human animal; be it through a mental, spiritual, metaphorical or some other connection." Soul refers to whatever individual thing (essence/spark/DNA/etc.) that makes you...YOU.

Amourosa Wrote:1) Does being a therian mean you identify AS an animal?

I'd say using the term comes down to preference. Some prefer "animal person" for example. *shrug* However, the point is some connection to a non-human animal. If you feel closely associated with wolves but don't believe you either are a wolf or were a wolf, then I'd personally say no, you're not a therian. A close connection to an animal would be on par with really really really liking an animal.

In my mind there is a very distinct difference between feeling close to a certain species and liking it and actually being that species yourself. The later usually leads to the formers though. For example, I feel a very strong connection to the sea but I am not a sea creature. I'm fairly certain orca has been/is a totem of mine, but other than really really really liking the beach, I don't identify as a mermaid, sea nymph, neried, etc. There is a clear difference to me. Does that make sense?

Amourosa Wrote:2) Does being a therian mean you experience some form of shifting (contherian/suntherian/other constantly shifted form included)

Arguments on contherian, sun/syntherian aside: no, not necessarily. Being a therian means there is some sort of connection (mental, spiritual, etc.) that an individual has with a certain species so much so that they effectively are that thing and have a personal connection to it that they choose to identify as.

A lot of folks will tell you that there's a clear difference between believing (ie. wanting to be) you are something "special" and actually really being something other. However, I think the difference lies in consciously acknowledging that you feel other and there's no way to prove it right or wrong. It's that conscious choice to say "yes I believe I am this" that makes people Otherkin. The reason being that you or I cannot say for certain how someone else has experienced something and how they act because of it, it's all subjective. So we on a forum can really only go with what people "believe" about themselves since there's no way to prove any of this.

Amourosa Wrote:3) Does therianthropy HAVE to have a behavioral component or can it be something you just feel and know is right?

This could get sticky very quickly. I know that I can tell the difference between liking a certain thing and relating to it on a personal level/it actually being a part of me. But obviously I can't say that for certain about anyone else. I hate to have to say yes this/no that = therianthropy, but there has to be some sort of distinction somewhere doesn't there?

Acting like an animal, while it can be easily mimicked by RP'ers, etc., is also a very easy way to tell species. However, how does one express gargoyle behavior? Or dragon? Or angel? This could be a problem if included in the definition because people who identify as Otherkin don't always outwardly express it. (That's of course assuming Otherkin is an umbrella term which includes Therianthropy.)

For myself, I don't usually outwardly act like a wolf. (This could be because I just don't or because I've learned to suppress it in public, I don't know.) Does this make me any less of a therian than someone who runs around on all fours and growls all the time? Absolutely not. Therianthropy expresses itself differently to different people. I don't think outward animal behavior needs to be expressly included in the definition.

Amourosa Wrote:4) What about the physiological aspects of being a therian, such as genetic disorders, and various other biological abnormalities that may occur due to therianthropy?

Are some of us just wired differently than "normal" humans? Yep, I know I am. And I have extensive proof from real life experiences to prove it!

Could it be a hereditary thing? Maybe. I've seen therian/Otherkin aspects from both of my parents. Although again, this could be because I'm looking through a "me filter".

I'm not a scientist and it's been years since I had any biology or psychology classes so I can't really answer this. If professionals decided to test people for Otherkin/therian genes I would not be the first to volunteer although I would be curious as to the results of the testing!

I recognize some "off" things about myself and my family (like my abnormally pointy canine teeth), but it could just simply be that we're weird and not related to Otherkin/therianthropy at all. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

Amourosa Wrote:5) Can you have a definition that allows us to define something we can't understand or explain, largely because we don't know what causes it?

Yes, of course. It just needs to be easy to understand, easy to expound on due to personal experiences and easy to change when necessary. And it needs to include that therianthropy can manifest both as a spiritual thing and as a mental wiring thing.

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2011-04-21 20:55
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