Mental shift (MS or m-shift): occurs when a Therianthrope temporarily has a change in mindset from the humanside to animalside and thinks more instinctively like the therioside or other nonhuman creature. Cameo mental shifts are possible. During a mental shift, the Therianthrope usually expresses animal behavior and vocalizations while the human body remains physically unchanged.[1]

The term first appeared on Alt.horror.werewolves in 1995, but this phenomenon was most likely discussed earlier. This is still a commonly discussed shift in the community that is experienced by most Therianthropes. The term shift used alone usually refers to a mental shift. Other types of shifts are usually specified.

See also: Shift (Therianthropic)

Mental shifts can happen in the midst of any emotional state. These changes in consciousness, whether voluntary or involuntary, are not always at the same level of intensity. Mental shifts can be very mild to very strong and any level in-between. During mild shifts the human mindset never fully vanishes. By the same token, many Therians claim that even when not "shifted" the animal mindset is never fully dormant.[2]

It has been hypothesized that involuntary m-shifts are more likely when the Therian is still coming to terms with their animal nature. Some Therians choose to study their shifts to learn what triggers them. They can then use these triggers to induce shifts when they choose to. It is important to learn to control shifts of any kind, and shifts are not an excuse to cause others harm.

A strong mental shift can make a person lose the ability to think in words in favor of thinking in pure awareness. This full shift, especially if due to an emotionally heightened state, can be referred to a Feral Shift. If you know that you are prone to strong mental shifts, it's good to learn the sensations that are precursors of your shifts so that you can suppress it until you find a safe and private place to experience your shift.

A Were by the name of Grigsbeast gives an interesting perspective of his mental shifts in an AHWW post from June 8, 1996.

"Mentally shifting made me realize that almost all of our time in modern 'civilization' is spent ignoring outside reality in favor of daydreams, fantasies, thinking about work, friends, or anything but the noisy, ugly, crowded, dirty, utterly evil reality we have managed to create for ourselves.  "We ought not to think and act as if we were asleep" but awakening confronts us with a reality worse than nightmare, one in which we have to skulk around in misleadingly-named newsgroups instead of enjoying our animal heritage (which I believe lies within absolutely everyone, though most will deny it unto death)." [3]

Benefits of voluntary mental shifting

Studying your shifts and knowing what causes them or triggers them can be beneficial. Voluntary mental shifting is associated with a feeling of freedom and inhibition. When experienced during meditation, mental shifts are an excellent way to relieve stress and to generally feel better. Being able to shift at convenient times and safe places can help reduce the feelings of species dysphoria.

Using mental shifts to discover one's theriotype is another benefit. If one finds himself or herself feeling the need to growl during a mental shift, it is likely that the therian has a canine theriotype. However, it may simply be a cameo shift.

Lack of shifting

A number of therians claim that they have only one mindset that is both human and animal at once, rather than separate mentalities that they shift between. These Therians are known as Contherianthropes.


  1. Orion Scribner, “Otherkin lexicon: A multi-lingual dictionary of jargon used in the communities of otherkin, therianthropes, and other similar peoples, v. 0.1 Abridged.” The Art and Writing of O. Scribner. 8 September, 2012.
  2. Therianthropes United, Mental Shift, December 18, 2007 (archived page accessed June 2, 2018)
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