Types of Shifts by Sonne

  • By: Sonne
  • Written: 2008/2009

There are more types of shifts than listed and defined here, but these are the key ones used in discussions and writings pertaining to therianthropy. And thus these terms listed do not encompass the full expanse of ways in which a person (therian or not) can experience “shifts” to a non-human creature. They are limiting, and though terms have been made for some other types of shifts, they are rather redundant and/or needless (since the term is self-explanatory, as some of these listed are, but the ones listed are generally used more often anyway), and nevertheless they don’t cover all the shifting manifestations of therianthropy. Also keep in mind that these shifts are not exclusively therianthropic and can be experienced by people who aren’t therians or by therians to animals that aren’t of their theriotype(s). These shifts can also come in the manner of being voluntary or involuntary.

Mental Shift (m-shift): this term indicates a change in mindset toward a non-human creature. That change/shift can be very mild, to very strong, and any level in-between.

Many therians tend to understand mental shifting as being an extreme shift in mindset toward one’s theriotype (or other animal) when that is actually only one type of manifestation of it, and it happens to be the seemingly more uncommon type. Most m-shifting is the mild to moderate types when part of a human mindset/mentality is maintained. Some people can signify these shifts in supposed percentages of %human, %[theriotype], etc., but not everyone who experiences m-shifting can or will denote theirs with percentages.

It is unclear and undecided by consensus on whether ‘minor fluctuations’ toward or away from the animal mindset should be considered a type of mental shift, mainly because they do mention some level (albeit very minor) of mental ‘change’. There are also the implications that people sometimes see in the concept of m-shifting with them assuming that it indicates a notable separation from the ‘therioside’ and the person, when instead mental shifts do not have to exclude integration of the theriotype(s) with the human or self. Also, the boundaries as to what is and is not a mental shift have not been clearly defined by a therian community consensus. The term’s definitions are often so vague or ambiguous that they could be applied to more or less than mental shifting itself might actually encompass.

Phantom Shift (ph-shift): the term is based off of the “phantom limb” experience that some amputees have, but this is only a similar, obviously not the same, occurrence. It is when a person feels a non-human body part attached to or super-imposed on their human body.

The specific ways in which these can be experienced varies vastly, but included amongst them are a diversity of levels of ‘realism’, some being very minor to some even being so intense that the phantom part feels almost or entirely “real” regardless of the fact it is not physical. Some phantom parts are constant, but the ones referred to in this definition are those that are temporary and ‘shift’ in and out of occurrence. Other effects associated with some phantom parts include pain or discomfort in/on or associated with the phantom part, movement (voluntary or involuntary) of the phantom body part, and reactions to outside ‘real’ stimuli such as objects, sounds, movement of other things, and so forth.

Astral Shift: when a person shifts his/her astral body to the ‘form’ of a non-human animal, whether it be of a person’s theriotype or some other type of animal.

Dream Shift: self-explanatory, but this is a shift that occurs as the person shifting partially or entirely into his/her theriotype(s) or any other non-human animal within the dream. If the person shifts to an animal that is a theriotype of his/hers then it is a therianthropic dream shift, and if it’s to some other type of animal then it’s, of course, non-therianthropic (as applicable to other types of shifts).

Physical Shift (p-shift): this type of shift is widely and often highly believed to not be possible to occur, but because of its usage on therianthropy sites and boards it’s defined here. As the name indicates, a physical shift is a shift that would occur with the person’s physical body changing partially or entirely into a non-human animal. Some people claim that because they experience color changes in their irises that it is or maybe a very minor physical shift, but well-made arguments have been made against that notion and other claims of actually physically shapeshifting, in part or whole.

Cameo Shift: used to indicate a shift not of a person’s theriotype(s) (like a “cameo appearance” in some forms of media). This term is not used widely much anymore, and the term itself is actually meant to denote that the person is experiencing shifts to an animal that the person doesn’t ‘usually’ shift into—the animal is a rarer occurrence to shift for the person. However, that latter description gives implications that an animal shifted to non-rarely (even if not necessarily on a regular basis) would be a theriotype, when instead shifting does not define a therianthrope nor his/her theriotype(s), and thus a more frequent occurrence of shifting to a non-therianthropic animal could be from the person experiencing some other form of animal connection, animal spirituality, or such similar things.