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Therians are people who identify, in some intrinsic way, as an animal that exists or has existed on earth. Some believe that their soul is that of an animal while others believe the cause of their animal identity is psychological. They experience primarily Phantom Shifting (Ph-Shifting) and Mental Shifting (M-Shifting). Ph-shifting is when they feel phantom limbs that correspond with their animal identity (called a theriotype). This is NOT physical shifting, almost all therians regard physical shape-shifting as impossible. M-shifting is when they take on the mindset of their theriotype. They may end up behaving more like an animal or seem completely human.
When it comes to personality, therians are just like any normal human being. They understand they will be looked at differently from other people because of what they call themselves, and for the most part try to blend in with society. For some their identity is spiritual, while for others it's psychological. They walk, talk, and act like anyone else.
Therian types are categorized as any living or extinct animal that has once or still exists on Earth. Although wolves and felines are more common, they are not the only types. It is hypothesized that they are common due to the close connectivity that humans and these types have had with each other throughout history.
There are different types of therians, who experience different degrees of shifting and identity.
- Shifter Therian: This is the "typical" kind of therian. Someone who identifies as an animal and experiences a wide range of shifting.
- Contherian: A therian who does not experience shifting, but is instead at a permanent state of half human and half animal
- Vacillant (sun/syn) Therian: The term is disputed. This type of therian experiences a limited range of shifting, and has the base instincts of their theriotype ingrained into their personality.
- Cladotherian: A type of therian who's identity encompasses an entire family (or clade) of animals, instead of only a single species.
- Polytherian (Polywere): A therian who identifies as more than one animal.
Therians often experience shifts of which there are many types:
- 1. Phantom shifts: These shifts are when the person can feel parts corresponding to their animal body as supernumerary phantom limbs added on to, or overlaying their physical body.
- 2. Mental shifts: Where the shifter takes on a mentality of the theriotype. Most try to hide these shifts to blend in with society.
- 3. Dream shifts: These shifts involve vivid dreams of being their theriotype.
- 4. Auric shifts: When the individual's aura or astral body may shift or change to resemble that of their animal side.
It is often thought that furries and therians are the same. This false. Therianthropy is an identity, and a therian does not choose their identified species. While there is some overlap, not all therians are furries and vice versa.