Since a lot of therians experience what is known as the phantom limbs phenomenon, I decided to write an article on how I experience and perceive phantom limbs. While this might not be true of everyone in the therian community, phantom limbs have been thought to be a major indicator that someone is something other than human. Obviously it is different for everyone, but there are some things that share similarities across the therian community. Phantom limbs are one of them.
Feeling phantom limbs is almost a daily occurrence for me. It can happen while I’m on my way to work, at my office, while I’m watching TV, any time. And for the most part, my phantom limbs are always there and unless I consciously think about them, I don’t necessarily notice them. It’s usually through exterior sources that I tend to notice my phantom limbs. For example, if I’m reading articles online or researching my animal side, since I am thinking about them more than normal, I tend to notice my phantom limbs more. I doubt that I would notice my phantom limbs if I were in a very human situation like being in a crowded restaurant. Like most things that happen outside the realm of normal human psyche, phantom limbs are noticed when we’re thinking about them. Why would we notice them if we weren’t consciously thinking about them? For example, you’re not aware of your different muscles or body parts unless you specifically concentrate to alienate one of them. They all work together to make up your physical body. But if you think about moving just a finger and what that feels like, you get a better understanding that one little part makes up the whole. For me, it works the same way with phantom limbs. While my tail and ears, etc. are always there, unless I focus on them, I don’t really notice them.
Since I am a wolf therian, my phantom tail naturally moves out of the way when I sit down. It gets itself out of the way of normal, everyday activities just like other parts of my body. I don’t trip over my feet because I’m simply used to them always being there. The same can be said of my phantom tail; since it’s always there and it’s a natural part of my aura and energy, it moves with my body.
However, I find it harder to focus on my phantom tail when I’m sitting in a chair and I believe this is because it’s an unnatural position for a wolf to sit in. I most often feel my tail when I’m walking because I notice the slight bump of it hitting against the back of my legs. Again, this doesn’t mean that my phantom tail isn’t there when I’m sitting or when I’m in an unwolf-like position, I just don’t notice it as much. However I can almost always feel my phantom ears. If any interesting sound catches my attention I can almost feel them perk up. Since the ears are on top of my head, outside influences like sitting in a manmade chair rarely affect them. I can be walking down the street, sitting at my desk, etc. and will consciously notice them.
While my tail and ears are my most often noticed phantom limbs, I have occasionally noticed phantom paws, a phantom muzzle and even on a few rare occasions, phantom fur. I seem to only notice my muzzle and paws when I focus solely on them. Is this because I simply focus more on one type of phantom limb over another? I’m not sure. But for whatever reason, I am less aware of my muzzle and paws than I am of my ears and tail. I think one explanation is that the ears and tail are parts that are not normally there to the physical eye. My muzzle and paws obviously have to overlap my real nose and mouth and hands so perhaps since I am still acutely aware of my hands and face I am less likely to notice a wolf muzzle and paws over top of what is physically there. Since I don’t have a tail or ears on the top of my head in this human body, the sensation given off from those phantom limbs resonates stronger with my consciousness so that I notice them more often than other phantom body parts.
Originally written March 21, 2007