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    Mirath
    Creative Commons License: Attribution + Noncommercial
    Firstly, for those who don't know the term 'fictotype', which I use quite often -
    The older Kinmunity definiton - Similar to "kintype". The term "fictotype" refers to the particular type of being a fictionkin identifies as. This term is especially used for fictionkin who identify as human characters, as the term "kintype" does not apply; otherkin must be non-human identities.
    --
    This started off as an initial 'do you just relate to them or not' article, then just devolved into a bit of everything.
    As I've seen around here and other sites for a while, it is easy to mistake a connection with a character/species as an identity as that character/species. In fact I would say the most common question I've seen asked on character-specific fictionkin intros is 'How do you know you aren't just relating with the character, as opposed to identifying as them?'.
    Connecting with something can range from a complete love of a character to going as far as roleplay and making up 'headcanon' ideas/theories. Since characters are made to be related to, it is often how quickly people with new fictotypes seem to crop up, and also seem to come in "waves" when a piece of popular media comes out.
    --
    Below is an explanation on one of the lesser-known terms used in the fictionkin community - Fictionflicker - that is a temporary alternative to being fictionkin and fiction-hearted, and is often seen as more than just a cameo shift.
     
    On the Fictionkin.com forum (one of the main fictionkin sites) as a definition for 'fictionflicker' - " A nebulous experience of shifting through identities as fictional characters and/or temporarily “becoming” a fictional character and the shift in identity and perception this may involve, with or without the experience of memories or past-life leanings if such beliefs apply to the person. This could be likened to a “temporary kintype” that comes and goes. " 
    (Definiton from - http://fictionkin.com/glossary-of-common-terms/).
    This is closely touched on from the description of a fictionflicker LiveJournal site (http://fictionflickers.livejournal.com/profile), and varied at the last few sentences to include - " If you've ever felt yourself "imprinted on" by a fictional identity, if you've ever spent a day or a week feeling like a character, if you've ever momentarily expected to see a different, yet familiar, face in the mirror -- if you've ever felt flickers of fiction in your identity -- this may be a helpful, or at the very least interesting, community. "
    Fictionflicking is listed differently on InCanon (a smaller fictionkin forum which was discontinued in late 2016) as " a temporary shift, where a fictional character may appear for a brief or temporary amount of time (generally caused by circumstance). May be related/similar to soulbonds in some cases. " 
    (Definition from - http://incanon.tumblr.com/post/148947330579/what-is-a-fictionflicker).
    With the InCanon definition - the definition does not go into whether this is seen as a personal identity, just a glorified/extended cameo shift, or in fact related to living character/soulbonds.
    With the Fictionkin.com definition - this can also be seen by some as 'experience taking' which isn't just fictionkin-related, but also doesn't explain how a fictionflicker is different to a long-lasting identity aside from being 'temporary'.
     
    So it seems that there is no 'steady' definition, but the Fictionkin.com definition is the one you are most likely to see around due to the size of the site and its members.
    With fictionflicking, the fact that these can apparently last a while can often throw an identity into question, similar to a cameo shift, and can often stay even after you disconnect from your source material and any associated media, which is often used as a way of 'confirming' an identity as opposed to the identity only coming into focus when the media is found/accessed. 
    When you step away from any source material or associated media, see if your sense of identity fades away or persists through the times. If it fades away completely, chances are it was a fictionflicker, if it persists then more stock would be in the idea of this identity being genuine.
    --
    In games where you can customize the playable character, this falls into more of a gray area, as you could always run the risk of unconsciously pouring yourself into said character. This may require extra questioning in order to get to the bottom of 'is it an identity, or is it just because they are modeled after myself?'
    Questioning might not be the easiest at times, especially if you're like me and want to pick your identity to pieces... I could say that it's much easier to ask questions on a fictionkin forum than an Otherkin one, but sometimes the questions remain the same throughout the communities, give or take the different identities. And of course, you get 'fluff' in both communities, but fictionkin seem to get grilled harder due to it.
     
    So, what do you question? Where do you start?
    That seems to be it right there.
     
    - As said before, taking time away from any source material or media connected to the identity in question can help immensely as to whether it's just a 'trend' or not. The sense of identity may fade away to nothing, or it may persist through the times you're away from the source material. Although at times it may be dampened down to such a low level that it doesn't feel like it is there, but chances are there will still be a feeling of a different identity, or other signs.
    - In slight contradiction, returning to said source material may also reinforce the feeling of identity in regards to the feelings of deja vu or 'instinctual' reactions to events and/or other characters. Most people run the trial of leaving their source material for a few months/years, and then returning, in order to attempt to rule out anything false.
    - Think of how you felt before you found your source material, even though the majority of the time everything seems to 'click together' after finding said material, some claim to experience shifts, memories, and/or a sense of identity before they find their source material.
    - Similar to Otherkin/Therians, the more fictotypes you claim to have, the less you're likely to be believed. The saving grace is how much detail you can give in explaining your identity for every fictotype, and not just going off something like 'oh I just feel a connection to them'. The same question may even be asked a few times, just styled differently, or maybe in a different approach than the run-of-the-mill wording.
    - One way in order to question would be to document everything - every shift, every memory, every instance of even childhood that might have a chance of lining up with the identity in question. Document it, and then question why it's that way, if it could be something else, see if it's a reoccurring factor.
     
    As with any Otherkin/therian, some fictionkin don't have memories, or might not shift, or might not experience home/'canon'-sickness or a sense of instant familiarity. As with the other communities, it isn't a requirement, but due to the nature of fictionkin (character-specific or not, spiritual or psychological or a mix), it is usually put under more interrogation. And yes it can put some people off if you can't answer it 'correctly'.
     
    In contrast, saying you're '100% sure and don't doubt anything at all' may get you a few odd looks. Because that could mean that you blindly accept it without questioning and discovering more of yourself. 
     
    Long story short, a lot of questioning techniques used by Otherkin/Therians can often be used for fictionkin, just with a few minor tweaks.

    Siofra Wolfaen
    Creative Commons License: Attribution + Noncommercial
    What are "Otherkin" and "Therians"?
    Put simply, if one identifies as an Otherkin or a Therian, they feel that in some way, they do not identify as human. Yes, an otherkin/therian is human. 100% biologically human. Being otherkin has nothing to do with biology. This identity is purely on a non-physical level.

    Accepted Definitions:
    Otherkin: Someone who identifies partially or wholly, spiritually, psychologically, or neurologically as a non-human creature on a non-physical level. Common identities are those of dragons, elves, fae folk, etc.

    Therianthrope: Someone who identifies partially or wholly, spiritually, psychologically, or neurologically as a non-human, terrestrial animal (living or extinct) on a non-physical level. Common identities are those of wolves, big cats, and a plethora of other mammals, avians, reptiles, and even dinosaurs. (Therianthropes are a subgrouping of Otherkin.)

    A Brief History
    The otherkin community dates back to around 1972. Primarily, those within these small circles, held elven identities and communicated via pen and paper mailing lists. It wasn't until the 1990s when other creature identities joined in via email. Coincidentally, in 1993, a group of people started a newsgroup called, alt.horror.werewolves. From what we can gather, this is the first instance of Therianthropy being talked about on a more public scale, and that they had no connection with the otherkin community until a few years later. Today, both communities have a solid presence on social media and other platforms, such as forum sites and Discord servers. Whether the individuals wish to disclose this information publicly, is up to them.
    Common Topics of Discussion
    When talking with an otherkin or a therian, or with a mixed group, there are some words and phrases that may sound rather confusing unless explained. Among these, are the words, “kintype,” “theriotype,” and a group of phenomena called, “shifting.” If an otherkin/therian talks about their “kintype” or their “theriotype,” they are referring to what they identify as. Examples: “My kintype is a dragon.” “My theriotypes are grey wolf and eagle.”
    It should be noted that neither an otherkin nor therian can change their biology. Their DNA will forever be that of a human, CRISPR Chimera breakthroughs notwithstanding. Should the term “shift” be used in general talk, it is most likely referring to one of the many types of sensations that are commonly felt by those who identify as otherkin or therian. These include:
    Phantom Shifting: The sensation of having limbs (ears, tails, wings, etc) that are not physically there. These types of shifts can occur occasionally, never, or have a constant presence.
    Mental Shifting: Where the mental state of the individual becomes more fitting to the kintype. This could result in posture changes, as well as uttering some non-human noises (growls, mews, roars, etc). Some otherkin have stated that their mental shifts are constant and vary in intensity, while others have said they have never experienced one, or they happen on occasion. Astral Shifting: These shifts are similar to phantom shifts, yet only occur on the astral plane. Many mix these two phenomena while explaining them. Dream Shifting: The individual will have a shift into their kintype during a dream. Dream shifts are treated with skepticism, because dreams are compilations of past memories that the subconscious has stored. Sensory Shifting: When the senses are perceived to be heightened to match that of the kintype. An example would be: Someone who identifies as canine could have a heightened sense of smell. However, this type of shifting is heavily debated, due to the fact that human senses are limited to what is biologically possible. Cameo Shifting: Shifts that occur that are not of your kintype. These can be very confusing and often times persistent. Example: A feline therian having the phantom shift of large wings. Berserker Shifting: Another highly debated form of shifting, berserker shifts can be likened to the transformation of mythological werewolves. While having a berserker shift, the individual will lose all control of themselves. Physical Shifting: This form of shifting has been determined to be impossible. A human being cannot willingly or unwillingly change their biological structure. This is not to say that it is not wished by most otherkin and therians.  
    Apart from the various “shifts” that one can experience, there is also the talk of how one categorizes their identity. As laid out in the definition of the two terms, one usually believes that they are either a “psychological” otherkin/therian or a “spiritual” otherkin/therian. Both of these categories are not mutually exclusive, as there are those who believe that they have both a psychological and spiritual component to their identity. In order to fully understand what separates the two explanations, a brief definition of each is required.

    Psychological Otherkin: Psychological otherkin believe that identity stems from psychological or neurological phenomena. However, since there are no current scientific studies that cover non-human identification at this time, the basis for a psychological otherkin is seen through the individual’s personal beliefs. These beliefs could come from a variety of variables including:
    This non-human identity is directly ingrained into their psyche. This could mean that the individual has had these feelings and experiences from birth. Whether these experiences and feelings were realized during childhood, adolescence, or even as an adult, varies from individual to individual.
    Others even take a more simple approach, and explain that they do not know why they identify this way, and it is one of the realms of abnormal psychology that has not been thoroughly investigated and researched.
     
    Spiritual Otherkin: Spiritual otherkin believe that the explanation for their non-human identity comes from their spiritual beliefs. It should be noted that otherkin is not a religion or a set of religious beliefs, but rather an integral part of one’s identity. Some spiritual otherkin use reincarnation and past lives to explain why they identify this way, but reincarnation and past lives are believed by both otherkin, therians, and non-kin alike.
     
    What Otherkin Isn't and Common Misconceptions
    This is by far one of the most difficult sections to explain. One of the underlying “rules” of the otherkin and therian communities is that “No one can tell you what you are/identify as.” This is a very personal identity and can only be discovered by the individual. Now, this is not to say that someone cannot ask questions, ask to be questioned by others, or inquire about what someone else has experienced. In fact, questions and sharing experiences is highly encouraged, all the while keeping an open mind and understanding that one can only help point you in the right direction and not directly say, “You are X” or “You identify as Y.” This section is not to discourage anyone who is questioning a non-human identity. It is, however, to outline some of the more recent and incorrect ways that the definitions have been interpreted, as well as other common misconceptions about otherkin and therians.
    As the otherkin and therian communities have had set definitions since their inceptions, this is not to say that the definitions have stood the test of time. As with every type of identity phenomena, individuals have warped the meanings to fit their own definitions. Here is a small listing of common misinterpretations and misconceptions:
    “Otherkin is something that is chosen.” Like with any other identity disorder, it is not inherently chosen. One either fits the definition or not. Some believe that their otherkin identity stems from coping with past trauma. They did not choose to cope this way, it merely happened. Should someone choose to use a non-human identity as a coping mechanism, they are referred to as "copinglinks" and are not considered otherkin.  
    “A very strong connection to or liking something a great deal.” These are two of the most common that are seen amongst newer and younger otherkin today. The novelty and idea of identifying as something non-human looks appealing and it is relatively easy to establish a connection or an obsession with one or more animals/non-human creatures. However, as stated before, otherkin and therians do not choose their identities. They painstakingly unpackage all the data and feelings from years of questioning and introspection. There are those who dislike their kintype or theriotype so strongly, that they want nothing to do with it, and do not like talking about it.  
    “A kintype is something separate from you.” This is false because how can your core identity be separate from you? Your identity is an integral part of you. There are other categories for this type of phenomena, and would moreso fall under the category of plural systems, headmates, tulpae, or even those diagnosed with DID.  
    "A kintype is the same as a "Spirit Animal/Guide" or a "Totem Animal." To distinguish the extremely different nature of these three, often times similar sounding ideas, they must be defined, then compared to the definition of a kintype. Spirit Animal: A separate, spiritual entity that may be non-human. Commonly known to guide one through life and spiritual matters. Totem Animal: A non-human creature commonly chosen to represent a group of people and their see of ideals. Totem animals are not seen as an integral part of one's core identity. Comparison to a Kintype: A kintype is neither separate nor chosen. Therefore, "Spirit Animals/Guides" and "Totem Animals" are not viewed as kintypes.  
    “Identifying as Otherkin is a mental illness.” This particular misconception is enough to discourage anyone questioning this type of identity or even those who have identified this way for multiple years. The conclusion that any type of different identity is a mental illness is not only highly incorrect, but also rather rude and condescending. Many otherkin/therians do feel what is referred to as “species dysphoria”. Dysphoria is the displeasure or disassociation that can follow with not seeing what you are feeling. It mainly describes the displeasure with the physical body not aligning with the perceived identity.  
    Sources and More Information
    Definition: Okami, Naia, “Terminology & Lexicon,” May 3, 2016  History: Scribner, O. “A Directory of Otherkin Writings and Other Works, Organized by Topic, v. 0.6,” The Art and Writing of O. Scribner. 8 September, 2012. <http://orion.kitsune.net/nonfic.html> Ashenfall, “A Guide to Shifting,” April 28, 2017  Viserion Grey, “Introductory Guide to Psychological Otherkinity,” May 8, 2016  Viserion Grey, “Introductory Guide to Spiritual Otherkinity,” May 8, 2016  “What a Kintype Isn’t,” Author wishes to remain anonymous as well as where the source is taken from. Permission to use was directly from author.

    AshenFall
    Creative Commons License: Attribution alone
    Shifting is an integral part of being otherkin/fictionkin to a large portion of the communities. Though certainly not essential to consider oneself otherkin or fictionkin, you’d be hard pressed to find a place where it isn’t mentioned or discussed in some form.

    In this article I will attempt to go into detail about the various types of shifts often spoken about in the community, in a bid to educate and inform. Of those listed below, some are widely accepted, others are debatable or even outright denied.
    Note: Throughout the article you will see some terms with letters in brackets (e.g. (M)ental Shifting). This signifies the shorthand form of the term, in the case of Mental Shifting, this is M-Shifting.
     
    Methods of Shifting
    Voluntary Shifting: Some otherkin/fictionkin are able to voluntarily evoke shifts at will. Often used when one wishes to feel more like their kintype(s) be it in a certain scenario or just because they want to. 
    Involuntary Shifting: The opposite to the above, involuntary shifts can occur for any number of reasons. Some are triggered by certain stimuli or emotions (.e.g a loud noise, a particular aroma, stress, elation), others have no clear cause and just occur out of the blue.
    Non-Shifting: Not a method of shifting, but most applicable for this section. As briefly mentioned in the introduction, though uncommon, there are a number of otherkin/fictionkin who do not experience shifts of any kind (not including those who consider themselves contherian, discussed later in this article). This doesn’t make them any less worthy of the otherkin/fictionkin labels than those who do shift in the slightest. It’s part and parcel of the many different ways that a non-human identity can manifest itself. There have been instances of those who once frequently shifted but one day find themselves not experiencing them anymore. Though perhaps disconcerting for the person involved, this doesn’t at all make someone “less otherkin”.

    Types of Shifting

    (M)ental Shifting: Perhaps one of the first shifts newcomers to the community will see mentioned, it is one of the more common types of shifting in the community. These occur when one takes on the mentality of their kintype(s)/fictotype(s). For example, someone with a canine kintype could feel more inclined to react by growling or barking than a human reaction, or become more preoccupied with chasing/hunting perceived prey. A character specific fictionkin will likely find themselves presenting behaviours and mannerisms far more in line with their fictotype than themselves. For example, wording, movements, reactions. Someone with an avian kintype may feel the urge to take flight when startled, even though they rationally know this is not possible. The actions are usually subconscious and not willed on (unless one who has the ability to voluntarily shifts) and not to be confused with merely "acting". They may not always be voluntary, but they are still normally fully controllable and manageable. 

    (Ph)antom Shifting: Along with mental shifting, phantom shifts are by far the most frequently mentioned in community spaces. They can often tie in with other types of shifting (particularly mental shifts) or even provoke them. Much like the medical term of supernumerary phantom limbs, it is the feeling/sensation of having a limb or other (usually movable) body part which is not physically there or is different to the existing counterpart. Most individuals (bar character specific human fictionkin) have kintypes that do not closely resemble the anatomy of a human body and so it isn't surprising they can feel parts of them that are "no longer there”/are absent but expected. This can happen in two different ways. Sometimes these phantom limbs will overlap parts of the existing body, but feel and "move" much more like the limbs of your kintype(s)/fictotype(s). It may also be uncomfortable if the feeling interferes with other parts of the body. An example of such a case frequently mentioned is when this occurs with the jaw and teeth.
    In the case of phantom limbs such as wings or a tail, they naturally don't overlap parts of the existing body. They are completely separate from any physical part of your body, but this does not make them feel any weaker or less real when experienced. A common misconception I have seen is that one can actually 'see' their phantom limbs. This is not true outside of anecdotal rare cases of extremely strong phantom shifts (only the shifter would be able to see this much like a controlled hallucination). This goes the same for those who claim others have interacted with, felt or seen their phantom limbs, it is most likely untrue. They are not physical in any way.
    Side Note: In some parts of the community, particularly Tumblr, the phantom sensations experienced in Phantom Shifting are referred to as astral limbs instead of phantom limbs. This is not to be confused with Astral Shifting, which will be discussed below.

    (D)ream Shifting: This occurs when one takes on the form of their kintype(s) or fictotype(s) within their dreams (this may be from the beginning of the dream or entail a physical transformation). Though widely accepted as a form of shifting, it is vital to bear in mind that alone dream shifts are not "proof" of one's identity, as from a scientific perspective, dreams are but a product of the mind. Whilst some people do believe dreams have a more spiritual cause, even in these cases caution should be taken and dreams shouldn’t be the sole reasoning. After all someone could dream of being a flying rhinoceros, but that does not make said person a flying rhinoceros-kin no matter how much they dream it if they have no other "evidence" to base it on. Dream shifts should be held with heavy skepticism if still in the phase of discovery, lest one be misled.

    (Se)nsory Shifting: Heading into lesser mentioned shifts now, sensory shifts may not sound the most extraordinary of claims out there, but there has been debate over them. It occurs when an individual gains the sensory perceptions of their kintype(s)/fictotype(s). For example, someone whose kintype is canine may find themselves to have a better sense of smell than usual. On the contrary, someone whose kintype is a mole may find themselves with reduced eyesight. Bear in mind that sensory shifting can only occur within what is physically possible of the human body and it is far more likely that sensory shifting is due to subconscious focus on the senses in question than it is to be indicative of a supernatural power or a physical anomaly.  

    (Au)ra Shifting: Seldom mentioned in the community, this occurs when one's aura takes on the shape of their kintype(s) or fictotype(s). Due to the nature of auras, this form of shifting depends on personal beliefs. Those who hold spiritual beliefs will be more likely to state they experience aura shifting, but even then it all depends in whether one personally believes in auras or not. For those who believe in auras, it is likely that those who can see or read auras would be able to notice the change and comment upon it.

    (As)tral Shifting: Like Aura Shifting, this is again dependent on one's belief in the astral plane. Quite self explanatory, this happens when one either voluntarily or involuntarily shifts into their kintype(s) or fictotype(s) in the astral plane, their non-physical astral body taking the shape. Much like Dream Shifting this will most likely be a visible change to the individual and/or others on the astral plane, as it takes place within those realms and is not a product of the physical body changing in any way.

    (Bi)-Location Shifting: Again, another of the types of shifting dependent on one's belief. The basic idea of Bi-Location shifting is that the spirit leaves the body and travels elsewhere to roam in the form of the individual's kintype(s)/fictotype(s). In that sense, it is most likely a form of OBE experienced, with the exception that the spirit body appears in its nonhuman form and that this takes place in the physical world as opposed to the astral plane. Bear in mind that this type of shifting does not mean one would appear visible to others in the area where their other body is roaming. Although some have claimed that indeed, their bi-located body is also physical and visible to others, no proof has been found of this and such claims should be treated with healthy skepticism.
    (S)piritual Shifting: Occurs when the spirit/soul shifts into the form of the individual’s kintype(s) or fictotype(s). Again dependent on one’s belief system. For some people, this may be a constant thing, or temporary. Has also been used in some circles as a blanket term for some of the above shifts (Aura, Astral, Bi-Location), which involve at least some aspect of the spirit or soul changing form.

    (C)ameo Shifting: This kind of shifting can manifest itself in any of the above ways. The key difference is that the individual experiences a shift that is not of their own kintype(s)/fictotype(s) and instead is of another non-human being. These can occur just once, or several times. Some people may experience hundreds of cameo shifts of different species and beings, others may experience cameos of a select few species, some may just experience one or two in their lives, if any. If one infrequently shifts into a particular being, but doesn’t feel they qualify as identifying as said being, then it could easily be a cameo shift. On the contrary, if someone is experiencing extremely frequent cameo shifts, then it may be wise to look deeper into things to see if it is a kintype or in fact is just a common cameo.
    (B)erserker Shifting: The name originating from the Norse Berserkers, this is perhaps, minus physical shifting, the most contested in this article. Berserker shifting in the context of the otherkin community is considered to be when an individual mentally shifts into their kintype(s), but to a much more extreme level. In such a shift the individual has little to no control over themselves and may do things harmful to themselves or others as a result. There are many people who propose that the term shouldn’t be used and that doing such inadvertently encourages others to behave recklessly or not seek professional help for dangerous behaviours. The general consensus is that if someone is experiencing what they perceive to be a Berserker Shift, then all other potential causes should be ruled out first to ensure there isn't an underlying reason. 

    (P)hysical Shifting: In the vast majority of otherkin and fictionkin circles, anyone claiming they can physically shift will not get a welcoming reception. Physical shifting entails the individual physically changing into their kintype(s)/fictotype(s), much like the werewolves and other shapeshifters of myth. This is impossible for a number of reasons. To physically change into another being would mean the body would have to rewrite genes, change bone structure, move around vital organs (or even create/get rid of some) at an extremely rapid pace. Something that would be unsurvivable biologically, and certainly not possible by the laws of physics. Even if it were magically possible, it would likely be truly agonizing and life threatening to go through the change. With this in mind, always be wary of people who claim to be able to physically shift and stick to the belief that it is not possible until proven otherwise with reliable evidence. There have been plenty of cases of people building up small followings of gullible people to boost their own egos or leech from others. There is no special gene or magical book that can turn you into another creature.
     
    Non-Shifting Categories
    Non-Shifting: See above. 

    (Contherian)thropy: The name derives from the community where the term was first used, but now is used in other areas of the otherkin and fictionkin community outside of therian groups. An individual is a contherian when they do not experience shifts, but instead are in a constant state of shifting for lack of a better term. The levels of non-human/human experiences stay constant and do not fluctuate.
    (Suntherian)thropy: Also known as Vacillant Therianthropy. Like the former, suntherians are also in a state of being "constantly shifted" but unlike the contherian, experience fluctuations in the strength and severity of these experiences. These may be very slight in difference to drastically different from day to day depending on the individual. It has been described similar to a sliding scale. 
     
    Originally Written: January 2016. Latest Update: October 2018.

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