"Upbringing, Imprintation, and Self-Development" (December 19, 2007)
This essay is more accurately on some of the main effects my upbringing has had on my therianthropy, in which some of that may have included forms of imprinting. Upbringing, though seemingly a rarely discussed topic in regards to affecting therianthropy, it doesn’t tend to, in general at least, stand as being as “taboo” in the therian community as imprinting, but both concepts are prone to raising suspicions from members in the community. This seems to be because of the consistent standard that therianthropy is something a person is born with and further, often stating or implying that theriotypes are not developed (as in the particular type of animal, as opposed to how that therioside manifests in an individual or how they experience that animal)—in essence, stating that theriotypes are nearly set-in-stone from birth (either because of spiritual, soulistic, and/or mental factors), but may not manifest until later in a person’s life. My own personal experiences indicate that upbringing was an important, though I doubt only, factor in the manifestation of my particular theriotypes and how I experience them—in that I was not always domestic horse, tame/domestic-like feline, mongoose, and having my ground-dwelling avian aspects. Yet I personally believe I have been a therian since my mental and emotional “self” was “born”, per se, when I was a young child (not when I came out of the womb), though I may have had the high potential to become a therian since before my physical birth (such as having the proper “mental wiring” for therianthropy).
Until now, I have vastly refrained from mentioning my childhood pre-eleven-years-old in regards to my therianthropy except for minor bits and pieces sometimes; maybe in large part because I was afraid to speak up among the masses of therians who can recall their first therianthropic childhood memories, usually occurring when they were toddlers or later, but still early childhood. My memories that far back of being “animal-like” call to mind my nearly typical children’s desire to mimic and play/pretend as various different animals I liked, though I can’t very well remember those times in specifics, but I do know I probably had a lot of them as a young child, many of which I think gravitated toward canines since I was more fond of and connected to dogs as a child than I was to cats (which flipped later on in my life, around my teenage years). I also don’t tend to take much credence in my “animal-like” behavior then, because even if it was therianthropic, I don’t think I can well make that distinction at this point in my life—most especially with those memories being so vague and the fact that I was so prone to pretending to act as numerous types of animals. I’d just rather stick with contemplating my memories starting around age 11 when I became a much more independent and more self-aware individual who didn’t spend so much of my time mimicking what animals I liked or “wanted to be” instead of understanding who and how I am as a person and individual. However, even though I can’t think back and name off many, or probably any, memories that young (before age 11) of me manifesting my therianthropy (any of my theriotypes), I have recently and for awhile been putting pieces together of what aspects of my childhood and upbringing have probably affected my therianthropy and in what ways they likely did so.
The main example that comes to my mind is my domesticated mindset, therianthropically. Although the topic of my therianthropy pertaining to domestic, feral, and wild mindsets is a subject for a separate writing, I am mentioning it mildly here because of its significance. I can’t speak for other therians as to why they have a wild, a feral, and/or a domestic theriotype(s), but I can speak on behalf of my own personal therianthropy in that me being a domestic human for some reason seemed to significantly impact my therianthropy. Which currently, that seems the exception rather than the norm among therians because of the fewer domestic theriotypes compared to wild-type ones, and that some or most of those domestics maybe such for reasons unrelated to being a human (and thus raised domestically, though of course there are some exceptions to domestic humans, like feral children). My domestic upbringing cemented itself deeply enough into my mind when I was a child that it affected and blended into a lot of my therianthropy, and I consequently don’t have nearly as strong of a “wild mind” (including many desires, instincts, and shifts) that I have heard so many therians describe, particularly a lot of the wild theriotype ones. In a way, it can be likened to the concept of exotic animals being raised from birth to be more ‘tame’ and have a more ‘domestic’ mind and attitude, however my therianthropy seems to have taken that concept a step further into converting what may have potentially ended up a wild-minded feline and/or horse type (mustang, for example) into domestic animals. Even mongoose seems fairly ‘tame’, although I unfortunately haven’t found information and media on the behaviors, attitude, and assumed mindsets of tame mongooses. Yet I don’t want to give the wrong impression that my theriotypes are so extensively tame that they have no wildness/feralness to them because they do, though such times are the notable minority.
I also was not a type of therian who ever tried to disassociate myself from humanity—I always recognized I was human and “only human”, even during my unfortunate misanthropy phase as an early teenager. This mindset about my humanness may have affected the types of fluid blending and particular manifestations of my theriotypes in relation to my human aspects, in a way that allows a vast variety of non-human aspects, experiences, thoughts, and manifestations, but with them blending in a way that causes minimal conflict with my human aspects (without occurring as contherianthropy). Among other things, I have found this apparent in my phantom sensations, with my mind not recognizing phantom parts that would (subconsciously) seem too far outside the realm of my human body sensations. Pivotal ears are about the furthest stretch I experience (which ironically are my only constant phantom parts), yet I do have the capacity to move my real, human ears, just not in a way that is actually pivotal of course (only mild movements forward and back), yet I can feel those ear muscles still there on my head, I just don’t have the proper physical ears to reflect how those muscles move. But my mind will not “feel” a tail (of any type), a muzzle, a beak, or hooves as a few examples, yet my mind “understands” these aspects through body-oriented thought with or without phantom sensations—such as me feeling horse legs but not the actual hooves, or ‘fangs’ but not a muzzle. Personally, I think my mind could comprehend just fine many of those unrecognized phantom sensations, but it doesn’t for some odd reason and it subconsciously drew those lines years ago (though if I tried enough, I could probably train myself to feel such phantom parts, but I prefer to just let mine occur as they naturally tend to); though of course I could just be drawing assumptions where there is only coincidence.
My prey-mindedness also appears to be in part caused by my childhood social experiences, although it probably wasn’t the only contributor to it (I may have already had that potential, similar to how I may have already had the high potential to become a therian in general). Looking back on my years as a child, I realize the amount of negative criticism that was pointed toward me by most people in my life—my family, teachers, classmates, and friends. Most of these things were mild and I was never actually “bullied”, but the repetition of this criticism numerous days a week, at home, on vacation (to see my extended family), and at school, for years likely led to impacting my mindset in some notable ways. I learned to not drag attention to myself, to stay still and silent, to give people little reason to point me out negatively and throw out their criticism (regardless then of whether it was meant in humor, distaste, or as an insult)—I essentially learned to “hide” while being out in the open. Which also led me to questioning and doubting many things I would do, even minor tasks, and I still retain some residue of that but I have it pretty well under control.
This ‘hiding’ behavior developed as I aged and displayed itself in various ways, with it eventually working itself into my therianthropy in some ways. Sure, the equine instinct to just run away exists in me and I experience that desire sometimes, but I more often use the ‘hide in the open’ tactic as my main form of ‘protecting’ myself. My mind and instincts act as if I am less visible than I actually am—giving some of my clothing choices (which generally don’t fall into the norm for clothing seen on most people where I live), I actually stand out noticeably often times, especially when I was in high school, and yet I treat my clothing like it doesn’t drag attention to me at all, like it’s just natural color/pattern that isn’t noticeable (like a form of camouflage). Unless I have friends or family with me, I try to not be seen eating in public—instinctively it makes me feel “vulnerable”, even in circumstances when I would be less noticeable if I was actually eating. In numerous situations, my mind comprehends inaction about something as less noticeable to others than doing what I think I am supposed to do, which ironically works against me sometimes with me trying to avoid criticism—this doesn’t usually happen when I have been told specifically what to do, but instead tends to happen when I assume I’m supposed to do a certain thing yet doubt myself about it, so I choose inaction. Both cat and mongoose (as real animals and my theriotypes) have this kind of mentality, even though they are predators and can be vicious at defending themselves if circumstance calls for it, they are small and potential prey animals that if spotted by greater or larger predators it would make them vulnerable and put them in danger. Fleeing is an option to them, but it’s a latter option rather than the primary one—they’re designed to stay still and quiet when potential danger is around them, to be hidden even when the surroundings are mostly open (or to hurry under or in something that can hide them better, which I’m prone to do as well). If there is time to hide more adequately, do so, but if there isn’t, then compact your body, remain still, and keep silent while in the open; something that is reflective of my own thought process and instincts, even if they technically don’t make sense in most human related situations I use or feel those instincts in.
Phobias, past and present, I believe also come into play some with my therianthropy. I don’t have any very water-oriented theriotypes, and though there maybe some present, subconscious bias about that as I’ve tried to figure out and confirm what animals my theriotypes are (which would indicate that instead I could be ‘lying’ to myself about my theriotypes regarding water-orientation, but that isn’t lining up properly enough), I think my long-standing phobia of drowning is a larger and more accurate contributor to that. It’s not at all out of range for a therian to have a theriotype that loves, lives in, or is otherwise strongly associated with something that person is phobic of, yet my therianthropy seems to have eased away from that scenario. I also as a child had a strong fear of falling from potentially more deadly heights (not a fear of heights themselves, but just of falling from them, which I didn’t associate with heights in general) on the account I had an accident when I was 18 months old when I fell out a two story window, which apparently had a deep, negative impact on me mentally until my pre-teen years when the phobia subsided. However, I think the years of my childhood that involved me succumbing to that fear created an influence on part of my therianthropy, with me having primarily ground-dwelling animals as theriotypes and none of them being arboreal (to my knowledge at least at this time), and this includes my avian aspects (whether they are therianthropic or not).
When my fear of falling went away my mind became free to feel and embrace connections to flying and aerial floating, which have remained an important part of personal symbolism and fascination to me since then, yet my avian aspect never seemed to develop into a tree-dwelling or otherwise avid flyer, or at the least the bird was one to remain on the ground most of the time, even if it would do longer traveling through flight (which is something I have to look into further). It isn’t a flightless bird, but nevertheless it is built with long legs and a body designed for feeding, running, and living mainly on the ground, though if it doesn’t fly at all then it would be some form of avian-like dinosaur (which I’m not leaning toward yet). Rather than these being matters of personal, conscious preference to be this or that particular animal, they are more appropriately along the lines of various aspects of myself, my upbringing and socialization, and my developed behaviors (through numerous factors) that have led to a notable contribution in creating what types of animals my theriotypes are. Simply put, it isn’t a case of me “choosing” my theriotypes, but instead that my life, circumstances, and development-of-self played a large part in creating some specifics and more general aspects of what my theriotypes are now.
As far as animal imprinting goes, I can assume that such wasn’t a very large influence in ‘creating’ what my theriotypes are, but it likely had some significant part to play. Yes, I liked horses as a child, I collected horse figures and loved playing with them. I don’t know if that was an influence from my therianthropy, just a fairly normal thing for a little girl to do (which it was, but the question being as to if it was just that), or if it was something that created a sort of ‘imprinting’ on my mind regarding horses so that it later on affected my domestic horse therianthropy, though I’m apt to believe the last option probably occurred to some extent (but maybe just in a more minor way). I didn’t have the opportunity as a child to spend time with horses, even though I wanted to and still do, but I could watch them on TV and in movies, yet there was never enough exposure and understanding through information and media for me to comprehend and manifest the mentality of a horse in the way it is within me presently (and for many years now), so imprinting wouldn’t have affected me deeply enough with horse for my therianthropy to be as it is currently.
Cats, however, I was regularly exposed to, even though they were always kept outside, wandering freely around my family’s property when I was kid so I didn’t have as much personal contact with them then as I do and have in recent years (with my cats living inside), yet I still had a fascination for cats, more particularly large, pantherine types of cats as opposed to a focus on the small types of felines. More exposure of and interest in cats could have eventually influenced some aspects of my behavior, mindset, and thought to add some level of contribution to me being a cat therian, but I’m not talking about having an obsession with an animal and simply subconsciously mimicking them, I’m instead talking about the influence of an animal becoming imprinted to some extent into core, deep aspects of myself during major stages of mental and self development. I think maybe that happened to a much lesser extent with canines since I was closer to them emotionally and socially as a child and I picked up some behaviors and mannerisms from them, but I’m not a canine therian, I just have a few fragmented bits of canine-like things I do that I haven’t aligned to any of my actual theriotypes. So with that and the fact I was fond of and nearly obsessed with some other types of animals during my childhood that aren’t my theriotypes, as well as the fact I didn’t have opportunity for mongoose imprinting, I’m sufficing this at imprinting being some likely level of influence on me therianthropically, but it not being a main factor in what my theriotypes turned out to be. For others though, there maybe some therians in which the imprinting factor runs deeper or is a larger contributor to their theriotype(s), yet because of the nature of the subject, it becomes a difficult thing to discuss and can understandably come off suspiciously, especially with the amount of people who want to simplify the concept to just being obsessed with or having a strong liking/fondness for a certain type of animal and subconsciously and/or consciously mimicking that animal until they trick themselves into believing they are a therian of that theriotype(s). However, there’s bound to be a lot of grey area for this concept and deciding what is and is not ‘legitimate’ in terms of therianthropy for it can become rather difficult.
For me, I’ll continue questioning all of these things I’ve gone over here, to look into them further and see if they continue to align and make sense to me, with me possibly discovering more as my search and introspection continue. And on a related note to this topic of upbringing and the development of theriotypes, I am open to believe that at some point later in my life my theriotypes may change, including that I may lose or gain one or more, or that any of them become more specific or more general, or that any of them could alter into a different species, whether similar or not to my current ones. Yet, that is something that is likely to happen under circumstances of many, many years (and considering the development of my overall and specific self changes at a slower rate now and in future years, the process would hypothetically take a number of times longer than it did during my childhood and teenage years), or that some largely life-changing event or process (be it good or bad) could cause a change in my theriotypes to reflect the consequent change in myself. The important thing to note about this therianthropic development process I have mentioned here is that we, as humans, are not entirely stagnant beings--we change, we develop, we adapt, and I see no reason why therianthropy (as a concept and experience), with it being a core, integral part of ourselves, has to be completely excluded from that (understandably, it could be excluded in part depending on the explanation of therianthropy’s origin/cause, but by concept and state-of-being, therianthropy should not be thought of in standard as being always stagnant from physical birth to physical death).
If I, as a human, change substantially from when I was a child to the way I am now, why should it be considered illegitimate for therianthropy to follow suit accordingly as well with that development? Why should it be believed that particular theriotypes can’t ever develop because they must always remain the same animal(s) from the point at which the therianthropy manifests (usually believed to be at or before physical birth), so that they are equatable to our physical, human bodies, instead of our intangible, flexible, and changing selves? If speaking in terms of spirits or souls (depending on the definition of “soul” used), for whatever specific origin/cause of therianthropy, a lifetime as a human and fractions of that human lifetime may not be able to cause a change in theriotype(s), and thus they could be stagnant (as far as animal type goes, but in how they manifest specifically, that could likely change) for an average human lifetime; thus I do not discount in this other people’s explanations for what causes therianthropy (or at least their own personal therianthropy). However, if speaking in mental terms of origin, therianthropy has less reason to remain as unchanging in species as our physical bodies because of the lack of physical limitations (which in part some of those could be applied to some concepts of spirits and souls) and the normal capacity and tendency for the mental, emotional, and behavioral self to develop and change as the individual ages. Either way, it’s not respectable to automatically discount another therian’s experiences of a changing, developing theriotype(s) immediately without explanation from the therian claiming such, because of either community standard norms and/or strictly believing that a certain person’s single explanation for the cause of therianthropy encompasses all therians and if anyone falls outside the range of what would or seems could happen by that cause then they are “not a therian”. This doesn’t imply a total lack of disbelief about any certain therian’s claims or to exclude questioning people entirely, but just to be more open-minded about what can and sometimes is experienced by therians that doesn’t fit with the community standards—just because they are the standards does not mean they are necessarily the whole truth, especially with the bias they create toward parroting these standards of what is ‘legitimate’ without giving proper opportunity and openness to mindfully hear individuals’ explanations of their therianthropic beliefs and experiences.