And no, they aren't mentally ill.
Otherkin is a term used by people who identify as partially or entirely nonhuman, either in a spiritual sense or in terms of not being comfortable in their own body. They might feel like a dragon, an elf, a lion or a wolf — anything.
How they feel inside doesn't match how they look on the inside.
Otherkin isn't a mental illness; rather, a freedom of expression. Many otherkins admire certain aspects of their kintype (the animal they feel akin to), and seek to develop their own characteristics to mirror them.
It's like having a role model within yourself. A fox is sly and smart, and those are qualities that a human should have as well.
There are two ways that people start to identify their otherkinness:
- They've always known themselves to be different and usually had an affinity for an animal. One day, they come across the idea (probably on the Internet) and realized they're not alone.
- They have a sudden spiritual experience that leads them to the conclusion that they're otherkin.
They may feel as if they have a tail or extra large ears, almost like a phantom limb. They know that taking another form as an animal or a dragon is impossible, and that for the foreseeable future, they're human ... although they may feel as if they aren't on the inside.
With the unusual nature of the basic otherkin premises, there has been some negativity directed at it, along with the idea that many people adopt the otherkin identity to justify social difficulties, such as feeling like an outcast or having problems talking to the opposite sex.
Others have problems with people who call themselves otherkin because they feel they're merely calling themselves that as way to feel special and unique, without having or doing anything to back that claim up.
But you don't have to be serious all the time when you're otherkin; you can have fun with it, too.
While some people may consider the otherkin unbalanced, they aren't thought of as being a good fit for mental health treatment. What they're doing (mostly games and chatting online) isn't illegal, doesn't victimize other people, and isn't a form of mental illness (unless people become delusional about it), so there's no need for treatment.
Otherkins aren't furries, plushies, or into cosplay; although they do enjoy video games and fantasy novels — both involving a lot of imagination. Through video games, a certain freedom is created: a virtual fantasy world, a virtual self, and an outlet to be your otherkin to be whatever you want to be.
It's clear that otherkin goes much further than just having a spirit animal.
Check out this video about what it means to be an otherkin:
You might find otherkins strange, but to them it's merely a way to express a part of who they are. You may not like it or even agree that it's a form of self-expression, but try to practice acceptance and tolerance where these people are concerned.