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Shifting/Species Dys/Awakening Experiences?

Witchkat

New member
Hey y'all! 

I'm in the process of discovering if I truly am a Therian or not, and I would love for folks to describe to me what it's like to experience Species Dysphoria (if you do) and also shifts in general. I just wanna see if my experiences line up without me looking into specifics first and I get affected by them, if that makes sense? Like I get the concept, but it's so much different to hear someone talk about it firsthand, and I wanna see if I can relate to more than simply a definition. I would also love to hear about your personal awakening process!!

So yeah, I think that's it! I just wanna hear your stories! I hope they'll help me categorize my own. 

Much love, 

WK

 
hey !

i'm probably not the best person to answer this, since i don't really shift or kin something very 'animal'. however -- still wanted to throw in my two cents (must be my god complex acting up lol). 

i get heavy levels of dysphoria with my appearance -- for me this takes primarily forms of consistently wanting to look different. it comes for me in bursts of feeling like i have to change my appearance. i'll jump from wanting to file teeth to cutting a chunk of my hair off to needing a change in eye color. it'll happen very similar to an unstable change in mood: very erratic, if that makes sense. 

it's honestly all about your own experience -- while i am definitely dysphoric there could be another that experiences more or a different type of dysphoria than me, or vice versa. everyone's experience is still different, even if some of the feelings are similar, so you're valid ! 

i hope this helped a tad and wasn't just me blabbing -- though i do tend to talk a lot. 😉

 
I personally don't experience species dysphoria, but I can talk about my mental shifts.

For me, they happen pretty seamlessly every day. I'm not always shifted, but the frequency makes it hard to pinpoint when they start and when they end (for some people it's very obvious though). My shifts range from subtle to somewhat strong, with triggers being...pretty much anything.

Subtle shifts include but not limited to: raptor arms, "leg as a tail" (when laying down), sniffing to investigate objects even where it wouldn't be useful, etc. These are the type of shifts that can be triggered anything like food, an unfamiliar object, things in the environment (like stairs), etc.

Stronger shifts for me would be: my room is my den, vocalizations, nesting, etc. Some stronger shifts are caused by specific things. For example, the "dragon comes out" if I happen to lose something in my room and I'll completely tear it up looking for it. One of the keys on my musical keyboard is missing since I knocked it over during one of these episodes and it was never found again (I didn't, but one of the running jokes in the system is that I ate it).

In either case, while they can be triggered, they also tend to happen for no particular reason at all.

As for my awakening, it's less of "this is when my shifts started" and more of "this is when I discovered what it's called". I've had shifts for as long as I can remember, but I didn't actually discover therianthropy/otherkinity until somewhere around 2011 when I decided to find an answer by googling "wolf in a human body". I believe I first discovered the term on isitnormal.com

 
I think everyone's experiences are different, but here are mine, personally:

I haven't experienced much species dysphoria for a long time. For years it was terrible because I had a lot of other things I was dealing with in life and was just young and my brain couldn't handle it, and turned hating the way my life/body are into specifically species dysphoria. I'd occasionally have something trigger me and send me spiraling into this dark place where all I could think of was how much I hated my body and feeling trapped in my life and wanted to run free through the woods. I've broken out of that, fortunately- but occasionally I will still have small dysphoric moments where I will remember that I don't have x body part and think "huh, weird, it should be there". I think I mostly get it with my tail, and lemme tell you, it's still weird af not having a tail :Laugh:  It never gets worse than that anymore, though. Just a moment of weirdness remembering my body isn't what it's "supposed" to be. I would say, from what I've seen, a fair amount of kin don't get species dysphoria.

I think shifts can be as small as noticing you feel a bit more "animal" than usual. I don't have many strong shifts anymore but when I do, it's going from normal human self to, suddenly an outside influence triggers a shift and I feel almost more animal than human. I stop thinking in words as much and become more instinctual (but of course, not to the point that I'll do anything really stupid lol). It's hard to describe what it's like to shift other than "suddenly u just think like an animal" lmao.

I'm not sure if by "awakening" you mean when I realized I felt animal or when I found out about otherkin. Gonna assume the former. I think for both elf and dog I've sort of felt them since childhood. As a kid, I grew up around dogs and because my family wasn't great at connecting with me, I ended up feeling like I belonged more with canines than humans. I remember telling all of my friends in elementary school that I was part dog  :Laugh:  I never really grew out of this, and then discovered the kin community when I was 14.

As a kid I think I showed signs of being an elf? I'm kinda still figuring it out, haha. But, I've always had a deep connection to/need to protect nature, to the point I was convinced for a long time that it was connected to some sort of kintype, but couldn't figure it out until recently. Finally putting a label to my feelings is wonderful, though. Being an elf makes so much sense. It's great.

 

Red-in-Tooth

Machairodont Felid
VIP
Since this question is particularly personal, I will approach it from a few varied angles with the hope that it offers another perspective and some enlightenment as a result.

A dysphoric experience, of any variety and not limited to any one identity and body integration disorder, is a pervasive and obsessive feeling that something is not quite right with the individual in some fashion. It is an incessant subconscious nagging that something about their being, in this case their human quality, is just not right and that it is flawed in some fashion. What further cements this is that it causes psychological discomfort, at times even distress if not pervasive underlying stress. What I mean by this is that the person suffering from a dysphoric experience never quite feels at ease with that portion of themselves and it causes a great amount of concern and thought for them. They might, although are not explicitly prone to, consider altering themselves in physical ways to bridge the gap such as by their dress and appearance, although they may also alter their behavior; generally these are conscious decisions by dysphoric individuals, as in order to alleviate their source of discomfort about themselves they attempt to rectify it. Another important element of dysphoric experiences are that they are often irrational and can easily be led to the extremes in attempt by their sufferers to solve them. This is not explicit either, allow me to note, rather if their solutions to their dysmorphia and dysphoric life are not resolved, many will pursue greater and greater ends to do it in the hope of success. A strong parallel would be eating disorders and how rapidly those can spiral out of control.

Do note, species dysphoria is not a recognized diagnosis in either of the two major medical manuals and I would be surprised to see it appear under any sort of conventional care. It can be, although is obviously not commonly, a serious threat to the well being of an individual as it can be, if not compensated for, prone to leading into threats like depressive states. Again, not an assured outcome, instead something that should be addressed by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

With that out of the way and hopefully informative, I will attempt to explain some amount of what a manifested and transformative state of mind is, or what is often called "shifting". In many ways the best description for this experience is that the individual has a layer placed over their personality and perception that alters their state of mind and experiences. Or in some cases, had layers removed, as I could best describe in my case. When I experience one of these manifestations, it as if all the cloudiness of the human world is briefly peeled back and some more raw element of the self is exposed; the mask, the Persona, is removed and there is almost a lucid, euphoric clarity. The world becomes clearer and sharper, noise, scent, touch, all the senses even to the more obscure ones like balance become heightened but most of all, there is a sense of being outside and other than the physical body. There is this ethereal guise that extends beyond the physical and it, for me, gives me the sensation that there is an intangible and invisible field of outline that is me. This is not some.sort of extraordinary or supernatural thing, rather it is a perception of the self as the self, as if my body filled this space and that it behaved according to that.

The best way to describe this is to denote the experience of supernumerary phantom limbs. I can feel myself in ways that are physically impossible and that I know do not tangibly exist, only that it feels like they do. The brush of wind through whiskers, how it carries down across the fur, how an idle element as a tail behaves without so much as conscious thought of its existence, rather just awareness of it in the same sense any individual regularly knows they have limbs but never pay much mind to them. But these changes during a "shift" are not just limited to the imagined physical, they are notably behavioral, often projecting a sense of feral demeanor, regality, authority, and menace. They are not uncontrollable urges, rather they color the perception of the world and the experiences of it. This is to say nothing of moments of recall subject to these but I could go on forever.

These states consciousness that are altered are what makes up a "shift". Think fo the word less in the sense of how people often do as "shapeshift" and more of a paradigm shift, a shift of phase or state, an enormous but brief change of that variety that fades in or out.
 

Witchkat

New member
Wow. Thank you all so much for your answers... Honestly I didn't expect such a decent response. Normally these forums always fizzle out with just one or two at the most. Super appreciative of you guys. <3

After reading your information, you've sort of clarified some things for me. Personally, its so much easier for me to accept something of myself if there is already a founded community of folks who share the same experiences I may be having. Reading about them just validates my experiences further. This was eye-opening and honestly I think I needed it.

The best way to describe this is to denote the experience of supernumerary phantom limbs. I can feel myself in ways that are physically impossible and that I know do not tangibly exist, only that it feels like they do. The brush of wind through whiskers, how it carries down across the fur, how an idle element as a tail behaves without so much as conscious thought of its existence, rather just awareness of it in the same sense any individual regularly knows they have limbs but never pay much mind to them. But these changes during a "shift" are not just limited to the imagined physical, they are notably behavioral, often projecting a sense of feral demeanor, regality, authority, and menace.

This quote specifically got me. It's almost like looking into a mirror. I have always done this, sometimes it's more intense than other times, but it's still there. Like an engrained part of my being.

And this one as well:
it's honestly all about your own experience -- while i am definitely dysphoric there could be another that experiences more or a different type of dysphoria than me, or vice versa. everyone's experience is still different, even if some of the feelings are similar, so you're valid !

Honestly was just so sweet and uplifting...

After reading this and a few other searches, doing my research, watching videos... I have to conclude I'm a Jaguar kin. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. It's really helped me out.
 
I have managed to develop extreme species dysphoria. I have always felt I was never supposed to be a human, even at a very young age, (not even 10 years old). This was a long time ago. A few years maybe, unsure. So in a dream, I ended up dreaming that I had wings of flesh with a human body. Dragon, demon, I do not know. I will assume dragon. Dragon is a form of "demon" by definition anyway(not the evil definition).

I was near an ocean. So I decided to attempt a dive bomb. I flew up over the ocean into the clouds, then descended. Though I was late and had the grab my wings to scoop enough air so I could stop the dive bomb. Best experience I ever had in my life.

After that my species dysphoria got MUCH worse. Like to a point where I probably should be medicated.

It tortures me almost every day.

I always felt I was meant to fly. Though I was too tall to be a fighter pilot. or even a stunt jet pilot. Evey day I am haunted by not being able to fly.

My phantom wings, tail, and body are very extreme. They flare at random times, or while listening to music.

I don't understand how a human mind is able to do this, but it depresses me greatly.
 
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Amber

Astral skydancer
Staff member
Guardian
Gold Donor
VIP
Even if a lot of very helpful and interesting things were already said, let me try to add another personal experience since I agree that species dysphoria is - as with many things - a highly individual subject. I have a very vivid imagination, and I guess this is why in my case, species dysphoria mostly happens when I'm delving too much into draconic media. Mostly books, images and (most prominently) movies. The feeling it creates has led me to stay away from said media for years. It's notable that this does not appear with any other kind of media, only such where dragons of a certain type appear - representing realistic, intelligent and wise creatures instead of animalistic beasts, that is. Also, them appearing in a fantasy-like medieval setting seems to play a role.

The most intense level of species dysphoria I've experienced was with the novel Dragonheart and/or the movie Dragonheart I. I could feel an intense connection to the story, the whole setting and of course Draco. The main feelings this created were sadness, longing, despair, and feeling of being displaced in this world. The sadness was mostly related to the realization that I should be like Draco both in body and mind, but am not. The longing related to the urge to recreate that, the despair to not being able to. The feeling of displacement lasted for as long as 5 days. In effect, I felt incapable of doing daily business with the same amount of dedication and concentration as usual. Alas, real-life things just felt meaningless. Another feeling created was pain. Not physical of course, but some kind of mental pain, which is probably created by the combination of all the feelings mentioned above. I shall add that all these feelings were by magnitudes more intense than with any other fiction I've ever experienced. I suspect that the fictional setting created a mental image that related so much with my true self that the mind had severe trouble to let go.

I think this makes obvious why I tend to be very wary to stay away from according media. Although the feelings can be controlled to some extent, such control will take away most of the supposed joy that the media is actually intended to create, which makes it pretty pointless to look at. I'm usually more open to it when I've got a week of vacation ahead of me, so that some days of feeling displaced don't hurt much. But even without consuming media, there are situations that remind me of my true self enough to create the same pain. For me, this is one of the major problems of being otherkin, or maybe "things-to-deal-with" to use other words.
 
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Effervescent-Daydream

Well-known member
I suppose I can throw in my two cents.

Shifts are a bit weird for me. They happen frequently but are usually fairly transient; sort lasting and/or not very intense. It's not often that I become very deeply shifted, at least not in a mental capacity. I might find myself wanting to chase things, crawl on all fours, enjoy a good headpat from a kind human, etc. They can happen spontaneously but are often triggered by something in the environment. Cats have very keen hearing and eyesight, for example, so something like seeing the wind in the trees or hearing birds chirping might catch my attention and make me feel shifty. Phantom shifts can also happen at random but often accompany m-shifts. Using the bird example from before, not only might I experience a change in mentality, but feel my phantom cat-ears perk up as well.

I do experience some degree of dysphoria, but thankfully not often. Dysphoria, in my experience, is often triggered by other stresses. I sometimes find myself thinking "if only I could suddenly be in my real (feline) body and never have to deal with these human problems ever again". Phantom shifts can trigger dysphoria in me as well. I occasionally have shifts in which my hands feel more like paws. I usually curl my fingers under themselves somewhat during these shifts, to simulate a paw shape. But sometimes I stop and take extra notice that I have fingers and they just feel... wrong. Another example could be my ears. I feel like I have cat ears, then walk up to a mirror or other reflective surface and realize I don't. It's odd at times seeing your reflection not match who you feel that you actually are. It's like looking at a stranger.
 
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