I am otherkin. Depending on what circles you run in, you may know this as a completely legitimate identity, a bunch of crazy SJWs, or not know of it at all. (If you’re in the last group — subculture of people with the spiritual belief that they are not human, usually involving reincarnation somehow.)
I am also a Redditor, and Reddit really, really likes the second interpretation.
One of my hobbies is debating people. Depending on the subject, platform, intensity, and how much I regret getting into the debate, this can run the entire spectrum from the best to worst thing I did all year. I am also in possession of an incredibly misplaced sense of justice, one that has led me into far more trouble than it’s worth but that I am convinced is one of my better traits anyway. Thanks to the intersection of all of these, I ended up getting into a debate about otherkin on a recent AskReddit thread about things people are unable to take seriously.
Someone I was debating looked through my post history and discovered that I am also psychotic; to be precise, the evidence points towards me being in the prodromal stage of schizophrenia (likely undifferentiated subtype).
I pointed out that my otherkin identity is very stable and has existed since before the onset of those symptoms. I didn’t get a reply.
I ended up bowing out of the argument because someone essentially asked me to explain the specific basis behind my identity and that would be SO MANY WORDS HOLY SHIT, but I’ve been thinking about it over the past few days, and particularly about that person’s questioning and their response or lack thereof.
“You have mental health issues, thus you being otherkin is a delusion” is a line I am not unfamiliar with. This is the first time I can remember being specifically targeted with it, unless you include a lot of interesting and complicated things mainly revolving around the Columbine shooting that are really better off not elaborated on, but that’s more of a rite of passage than anything. I have seen it said to so many people that I couldn’t even tell you all their names. Some people call it ‘concern trolling’, but I think that term has been completely destroyed and is if anything self-parodic. It is simply everpresent, displacingly simplistic, and a damned lie. For one, most of the mentally ill otherkin I have met, including myself, generally have delusions at least a little distinct from our otherkin identities — I really cannot figure out how me being a demon is related to anything involving an intergalactic cabal with some interesting similarities to Chief Bromden’s Combine (or, when I am less charitable towards myself, the plot of The Neverending Story).
But when I think about it intensely, as I am wont to do, and when I spiral into a completely insane and off-kilter train of thought about the whole thing, as I am also wont to do, I find myself questioning whether it is even important to separate the concept of ‘otherkin’ and ‘delusion’, or even whether something being a delusion is inherently bad, as opposed to bad only if it serves as the direct cause of bad things, or, on certain occasions, whether something being a delusion makes it false.
Technically, I have not been diagnosed as psychotic within the medical community, because I am shockingly good at lying by omission. I understand that the average person does not believe in most of the things I believe in, and I also want to avoid getting a particularly stigmatizing diagnosis — I’ve been diagnosed with some pretty stigmatizing things as is, and I would like to inform you that it is not fun and that you should avoid it if at all possible. I have also found that, given that I usually see therapists for things like anxiety and family issues, many of them do not pick up on my less-hideable schizophrenia-spectrum traits, or fail to recognize them as what they are if they do (the therapist who fired me — its own story — noticed that I had a tendency to create neologisms, but ascribed it to autism instead, and many have done the same regarding speech traits that indicate thought disorders). However, I do have many friends who are on that spectrum or who are otherwise well acquaintanced with the psychiatric community, and the consensus is “Yup, you’re somewhere on there and you might be moving towards the more extreme end of it”. I personally hope I’m not getting worse, but I’ve also noticed myself hallucinating, so I get the feeling that could be false hope.
The clincher there is that I have very high rates of schizotypy. How high? Well, my ex was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, and I consistently scored higher than him on every single measure of schizotypy. As far as I can tell, this has existed throughout my whole life, and I tragically did not start identifying as otherkin before conception. This technically means that Asshole Redditor was right. I realized that not too long after I revelled in how much I showed him — I am nothing if not self-aware — and began considering exactly what that meant.
Now, to segue into something that is almost otherkin but actually has literally nothing to do with otherkin anymore: There is a group of people out there who call themselves divine.
They are a recent splinter group from otherkin, formerly going by the terms ‘godkin’ and ‘celestial’. They hold the belief that they are literally gods, devils, deities, that they are deserving of worship and that once they really were.
Most of these people have been diagnosed with some kind of mental illness, particularly psychotic disorders and schizophrenia-spectrum conditions. This isn’t something they hide or that they consider invalidating. In fact, they discuss it openly, extensively. People will say in the same breath that they are schizoaffective and that they are God. They will describe their beliefs both as grandiose delusions and as the gospel (forgive the pun) truth. There is no mental disconnect, and it’s not something influencable by cognitive dissonance — they don’t contradict, not at all. They simply are, coexisting.
This is a belief I share. (The ‘something can be both false and true’ part, not the divine part. Though ‘demonkin’ isn’t that much of a stretch…)
I am quite aware that I am, to use the vernacular, fucked up in the head. I am also quite aware that holy shit, guys, you’re being brainwashed by the cabal! If anything, I consider my delusions a positive; the criteria for ‘brainwashing’ is, essentially, a failure to create, philosophize, and accomplish, so writing a blog post or a film script or a song is a good way to avoid that, and will likely be a good thing in the long term even minus any threat of being brainwashed by the cabal. This is probably why I am at least a little certain that they’re real; if they can serve a beneficial purpose, why fix what’s not broken?
Now, this comes with the caveat that I am garishly self-aware, and I generally spend a lot of time thinking about absolutely everything forever, and that as I am possibly a pathological narcissist, it tends to involve me. Factoring delusions into this, I tend to get into feedback loops about how I know something is a delusion, but I also know it’s real, but I also know it’s a delusion, but it’s also real, but it’s a delusion, but it’s also real, but…
And there’s a funny little word in there — ‘also’.
Here’s the clincher. I don’t believe anything is independently real.
This includes everything from the tiniest quark to the observable universe. Every single aspect of what we call reality, what we call fiction, and what slots into some incomprehensible place between the two is not, in fact, reality — not on its own merits, at any rate.
Reality exists only when we independently create it. Quasi-solipsistic, but not quite — though everyone exists in their own reality, those of others is still real, just not real in the same way.
I often start talking about ‘layers of reality’ at this point, but for some reason, that phrase often triggers me into severe thought disorders and I start babbling about the 21st Century Suicide Prince, so we’re going to avoid that path.
Nonetheless…’reality is something that exists only in the perception of it’ is the ultimate basis of my personal philosophy (unless you count ‘idk, something about pataphysics’). This validates the cause of the divine, validates the cabal, and, ultimately, validates the concept of otherkin both in those completely well-adjusted and those worse off than I am.
And it validates Asshole Redditor, whose perception of reality has no room for otherkin in it.
But don’t tell him I said that.