Furries in therapy

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/06/furries-in-therapy.html


I know I could use some insight into furries. And no, no sarcasm intended; I don’t mock or make fun of the subculture, but I’ve never really understood the attraction, or what it provides someone, or how the community works.


Where to begin?

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Where would the New Yorker be if it weren’t for tiny desert islands, upper class women having discussions over a glass of wine, and therapy couches?


Probably in an art gallery, bitching.


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IMO, for a lot of people it looks like a more or less fun hobby. A hobby with a lot of porn, but still a hobby. I guess dressing up like a wolf isn’t much different than a Stormtrooper or The Shadow. Wanting to be a wolf isn’t much different than wanting to be a Stormtrooper or The Shadow. I suppose it can go too far thinking you ARE a Stormtrooper or The Shadow, but I am not sure how many furries actually commit to that level.


I think a lot of furries are probably people who would be more likely than average to suffer from mental health problems if they weren’t furries. There is something inside them that needs expression and not being able to express it would be a problem, but being able to express it makes them resilient.

That’s a distinction people without experience with mental health have trouble getting their heads around.


I met these guys at Pride a couple of years back and they were all really sweet and friendly.
If wearing a costume makes you feel good go ahead and do it!


Interesting! I’m glad that therapists and the like are taking people’s entire lives into account and not just treating them as if they need to get away from something they enjoy and become “normal” (whatever THAT is!)!

Boom! Just goes to show that subcultural life that mainstream society often belittles have much to offer!


Absolutely. And let’s not forget that the fursuiters are just the most visible part of the furry fandom. There are a lot more people who just like the idea of anthropomorphic animals, from cartoon characters to aliens, and from werebeasts to what are essentially normal people, only wolves or cats or giraffes as well.

It’s also a neat way of engaging with real-world prejudice and stereotyping, while also distancing things a little, to make the issues easier to appreciate and understand. See Zootopia, for example.


Shit, my fursona was therapy to a degree.

There’s the fursonas that are just “me in a virtual cartoon animal suit”. But there’s also the fursonas that are someone else. Someone you’d like to be. Someone you fear you’d be. They’re ways to explore the possibilities of who you are, and can act as templates to change yourself towards.

I mean, it’s not like my broke GenX ass could afford to go to an actual therapist. That’s for people with lots of money, that’s for people with insurance. So instead I worked through my issues by pretending to be a dragon lady on the internet.


The world would be a better place if the Furries took over.


What do you mean that I can’t bring my service furry on the plane ?


The world could certainly cope with a few more tickled tummies and scritches behind the ears.


I’m sold.


That would include most people, IMO. I realize furry fandom runs a big spectrum, but you would be hard pressed to find cartoon fans who don’t like some anthropomorphic characters. I mean, that is half of Disney.


Furry is such an enormous umbrella that it’s hard (if not impossible) to boil a person’s involvement in the community down into a single root explanation. I suppose the lowest common denominator is just finding anthropomorphic animals cool, which is kind of a “you either get it or you don’t” sort of thing, like enjoying hot rods or model trains or brutalist architecture. That said, since it’s a self-applied label, there are also plenty of folks who like Disney cartoons who don’t identify as furries, and that’s perfectly valid.

Some people definitely come to furry from a more spiritual angle, and there’s some overlap with the Otherkin community as well (furry-specific 'kin tend toward the label of “therian”). It’s less of a surface-level “I’m a dog!” thing and more along the lines of reincarnation/past life beliefs. Some of those folk also disassociate themselves from the broader furry community, because the latter does tend to lean more toward fandom than deep self-identification.

As for what it offers, for a lot of people it’s a place to belong (furries are pretty broadly LGBTQ+ friendly, and there’s a lot or crossover between the two communities because both are “outsider”/social outcast groups). To that end, it can also be a comparatively safe space to experiment with self-expression and identity. It’s sort of the literal reverse of “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”; if you’re a dog on the internet, that’s what people know you as. If that dog 'sona also happens to be the tool you’re using to explore your sexuality or gender identity, well, it certainly beats the risks of doing it in meatspace. I think that’s also at least part of why there’s seemingly a lot of more risqué content (the other part being that furries are still people, and people like porn. There’s also a lot of overlap with various kink communities because, again, non-conforming social groups and subcultures).

A lot of folks also find a creative outlet in the aesthetic, and it’s a huge non-corporate-owned universe in which to play and worldbuild, even if a lot of folks do get “inducted” through corporate properties (Looney Toons, Zootopia, Lion King, Beastars, Disney’s Robin Hood…). Whether it’s visual art, writing, fursuiting, crafts, or whatever else, it’s a big play space that isn’t bound by any particular rules, conventions, settings, characters, or aesthetics.

Can confirm, ear scritches are the best, said the person with an arctic fox avatar. :wink: