A Field Guide to Alterhumanity
Otherkin, Fictionkin, Therianthropy, Plurality and More
This is a carrd-based web document covering what's already out there on the internet, all in one tidy spot, in attempt to prevent further spread of misinformation.
This document is written and handled by a 25+ year old fictive in an DDNOS system with multiple kintypes, kiths, and years of experience in the community. Please be aware this is all written from memory and once-thought common knowledge, and thus has little 'official' sources.
Otherkin, therianism, and related terms are, first and foremost, spiritual understandings of the self and the soul. Anything beyond that have sub-terms and are typically newer in coinage.
This article also covers Multiple Systems, which are caused by dissociative identity disorder, because it also falls under the Alterhuman label -- they are different experiences entirely, and are mentioned here for clarification purposes.
The umbrella term used here, Alterhuman,
was popularized by Alt+H and coined here.
OTHERKIN - Person who acknowledges, identifies as, or otherwise believes in a past life that is non-human in nature, such as elves and dragons.
THERIAN - Person who believes in or feels connection to this-world animals such as wolves, foxes, cats, etc.
FICTIONKIN - Person who believes in or feels connection to specific species or characters in media, for example being a random wild Pikachu, or specifically Ash's Pikachu.
KINTYPE - A term used to refer to the entity that one feels a connection towards, e.g. someone has a wolf kintype.
KIN SHIFT - When someone feels a stronger connection to their kintype, such as 'returning to old habits' or 'being homesick'. Some feel they are always in a kin shift, where others may feel them more rarely.
CAMEO SHIFT - The phenomenon where someone experiences a "kinshift" to something that someone does not feel they are truly kin with.
POLYKIN - The term for someone with more than one kintype. In older days, especially in therian circles, having only a singular kintype was more common, though this is no longer the case.
OTHERHEARTED / SYNPATH - When someone feels connected to or identifies with an entity (character, animal, etc.) but not spiritually, typically only relating to them even if heavily.
KITH / -HEARTED - Term used to refer to one's Otherhearted connection (ex. My kith is a fox / I am fox-hearted).
PLURAL / SYSTEM - Any person who shares a body with multiple other people, typically due to a dissociative disorder of some type.
MEDIAN SYSTEM - A label used for anyone who feels not quite singlet, but not dissociated enough to consider themselves fully plural either, feeling 'in the middle'. These systems may share a singular identity with their host, or have only one fronting member, etc.
DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is the mental status of one body holding multiple personalities, known as Alters. Systems with DID typically have amnesiac blackouts, and do not share memory well between each alter.
DDNOS / OSDD - Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder. Systems that share memory well, do not have blackouts, or any other unclear diagnostic criteria that does not suit DID.
FRONTING - Verb used to describe when one alter has more presence at the 'front', controlling the body. Multiple alters may be aware at once, referred to as co-fronting or co-consiousness.
HOST - Term used to refer to either the 'core' or 'original' of a system, though does not always apply in the case of systems either with no current host or that never felt they had one. For these systems, Host refers to the one that fronts the most often.
ALTER - An alter is one of the alternate 'personalities' or beings that share the body. Another common slang term for them is Headmates.
INTROJECT - An alter in a system that is in some way inspired by outside beings such as cartoon characters, people you know irl, etc. An alter without a 'base' like this is just called an alter.
FACTIVE - An alter in a system that is in some way derived from a real person, such as an abuser, a celebrity, or a family member. This is slang for 'Introject'.
FICTIVE - An alter in a system that is in some way derived from media, such as an alter who behaves like and/or feels they have the appearance of a character (e.g., an alter who identifies as Dr. Who upon formation). This is slang for 'Fictional Introject' these days, though was also used in early Soulbond circles.
ANP - Apparently Normal Part. This term refers to alters that behave more or less like any other person, and are the most common type of alter.
PERSECUTOR - A type of alter that misbehaves, such as via abusing other alters, fronting to do harm, or self harms the body. Can be either rehabilitated or integrated.
PROTECTOR - A type of alter that does what they believe is best for the system, taking on a guardian role. May be overdefensive in some cases, fronting whenever trouble arises.
LITTLE - A type of alter that is a child or otherwise young-minded, extremely common in systems with trauma around that age. Also common are age-sliders, alters that may 'slide' between different ages.
GATEKEEPER - A type of alter that, similarly to the Protector, tends to focus more inwardly, keeping track of any persecutor alters or walk-ins.
WALK-INS - A type of alter that believes they were not split from any core, and simply 'appeared' into the system, typically bringing their own memories and confusions upon arrival. A system that commonly experiences this type of disoriented alter may use the label 'Gateway system'.
HEADSPACE - Also known as 'inner world' or rarely 'otherworld' or 'happy place', it is the mental manifestation of a location inside a system's mind, where each alter is 'visible'. Where some may have blank headspaces, others may have more complicated ones, such as inner worlds that have multiple rooms and locations for each alter to live.
INTEGRATION - The act of alters reforming back into one solid identity. This is the end goal of many types of dissociative disorder-focused therapies, but can occasionally cause discomfort in the community.
ASTRAL LIMBS - Previously known as 'phantom limbs' (considered ableist by some), describes the phenomenon in which a kin shifted individual or [often nonhuman] alter feels sensations of their presently-nonexistent body parts, such as animal ears, tails, or wings.
SOULBOND - The term soulbond was originally used for the phenomena in which writers felt their characters 'spoke' to them. Smaller early 90s groups used Soulbond to mean a Fictive, so some may believe the words to be interchangable, or that fictional introjects stole the term. Some websites about soulbonds are similar to tulpas, in that they encourage forced dissociation; the writer of this article strongly discourages this.
What is Otherkin?
Historically, Otherkin is derived from Elves!
Elfkinkind were the most documented kintype around the early 70s, finding spiritual connections through the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and not officially coining the terms Otherkind and Otherkin until around 1990. More on this here, in a document by Scribner.
Terms like Otakukin and later Fictionkin weren't coined until later, though debatably due to the Lord of the Rings being a sourceworld for many Elfinkind, they rose to prominence one and the same.
With that out of the way, let's head back to basics;
Otherkind or Otherkin are terms relating to people who, spiritually, typically due to past-life or alternative-world beliefs, feel they were or are connected to non-human beings. Most otherkin consider the term to be an umbrella, covering Fictionkin and Therian as well, though Therianthropes may prefer otherwise.
Defining a Kintype
As mentioned above, the entity that otherkin feel their connection to is known as a kintype. True kintypes are always spiritual in nature, feeling that one's soul is somehow connected to the entity in question, typically either through cross-universal reincarnation or through multi-universal simultaneous existence. There are other ways that otherkin may feel their connections, but these are most typical.
One great misunderstanding in the community is that not all otherkin identify as their kintypes, like their kintypes, or sometimes have even consumed the media / researched into their kintypes, and feel the kinshifts and may have 'memories' from the kintype regardless.
If you are questioning otherkin connections but do not identify in any way with the text above, there are other terms that you may feel suit you better!
Otherhearted is a term used to describe people who feel connected to an entity (animal, character, etc) but do not feel any sense of self-identity towards it, for example one may greatly relate to a character but not feel spiritually connected to them. Where otherkin have kintypes, otherhearted refer to their connections as kith. The term Synpath has the same definition, and was coined only due to misinformation.
Multiverse and Beyond
WIP section about multiverse, alternate selves, etc. Will include paragraph pertaining to non-spiritual kin
Kindred spirits, System woes
WIP section about the otherkin-system community blend, addressing issues with "actually me" and clarifying fictives vs fictionkin.
How To Survive In A Strange World After Sliding In To An Alternate Timeline - A pdf booklet primarily aimed towards fictives.
Astraea's Web - A very old web page from the 90s with a wealth of resources, including their own more expanded glossary.