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Spirit of the Wind
Therianthropy as a ResultI am going to be mildly arrogant and say that I think that quite a bit of the current thought on therianthropy may be going about it the wrong way. At the very least, going the wrong way if universally defined rather than individually.
By ‘going about this the wrong way,’ I mean that there seems to be a general tendency to think of therianthropy in terms of a process or means rather than an end result. When I read threads on the Werelist, they frequently talk about therianthropy being due to this or that, as if therianthropy has a single root cause--maybe not the same single root cause for everybody, but a root cause for each individual. I read threads saying that maybe it’s due to souls, or maybe it’s due to neurology, or maybe it’s due to acquired behaviors. And to the credit of those who post these things, they remain open-minded towards the possibility that it isn’t that way for everyone.
In my opinion, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is no logical reason that something thought of as a single linked trait cannot arise due to multiple influences. We simply do not understand therianthropy to the point where we can say for sure. But we do understand the brain to the point where we can say that certain therianthropic traits can arise due to separate, often completely unrelated causes.
Take phantom limbs, for example. I recently experienced what could be dubbed ‘phantom paws’. And yes, they felt like phantom paws, and my brain interpreted them as phantom paws. Notice interpret. They were most likely not, as I initially thought, phantom paws. Most likely, they were odd sensations brought on by bloodflow abnormalities after lying down in my bed after two and one half hours on the road in a cramped seat. But my brain interpreted them as phantom paws, and that’s what got me thinking. The vast majority of our phantom limbs may be abnormalities such as these--exactly what kind of abnormality I don’t know. There are glimmers of data regarding the matter regarding phantom limbs, body image, and some lobe in the brain that I believe is abbreviated to the TPJ, but there’s nothing very definitive that I’m aware of. In any event, the phantom limbs that are due to abnormalities, whether of bloodflow or the TPJ, would almost certainly not have the same exact cause as snarling in anger or wanting to kill and eat small animals.
Does this make our brain interpretation false or not? Well, yes, but that does not necessarily kill therianthropy. It does, however, make the idea of therianthropy as something with a single root cause in all cases that less likely. In my opinion, what matters is not why a phantom limb occurs, but how our brain interprets it. Our self-image, I think, has been modified in order to construe what normal people would regard as simple odd feelings as phantom limbs--that would also explain why so many therians cameo-shift phantom limbs. And I think that that is what in the end matters. This is the mind we’re talking about, and all sorts of weird stuff goes on there. Placebos, nocebos... Why does does the why of therianthropy have to say if we’re delusional or not? I say it does not. Therianthropy does not have to postulate on the why of therianthropy for therianthropy to be real. What therianthropy is to me is the end result, and while I might be driven to answer the why, I know that it doesn’t necessarily matter, or at least doesn’t say whether or not I’m right or wrong.
What if almost all of our behaviors can be explained through similar means? I’ve heard people argue it, and argued back that therianthropy is a group of behaviors, not an underlying condition, at least not in all cases. But I think that an addendum should be added--part of therianthropy is how the brain interprets this information. It is well-documented how our brains can turn random noise into patterns. It is also not unheard of for a therian to interpret everything as a shift. Perhaps a large part of therianthropy is interpretation--this thing and this thing and that thing are because; I’m a therian, we think. Of course, most people don’t exactly have consistent symptoms- a few common trends are reported, but on closer examination these ‘trends’ turn out to be general things (phantom limbs) that cover a huge range. Instead, I think that a consideration of therianthropy as an end result is in order. Instead of ‘this thing and this thing and that thing are because I’m a therian,’ ‘this thing and this thing and that thing make me a therian.’ I do not believe that I am a therian and therefore have behaviors x, y, and z, I believe that I have behaviors x, y, and z, therefore I am a therian.
Make no mistake, I do not criticize trying to discover the why of therianthropy; I am not against theories of therianthropy. On the contrary, I am for them, because theorizing and such is in my nature, which is Architect, and therefore fundamental to my identity. But I feel that theories of therianthropy must not make the mistake of saying that either the theory applies to a specific person completely or it does not at all.
Written November 2010, Revised January 2012
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