Perception Shifters

December 5, 2008 at 10:50 am (General)

jandevilhaufI was trying to think of various types of shifters today, and realized a lot of what I think are shapeshifters, perhaps others do not.  Do they have to physically change to be labeled a shapeshifter?  Yes, I suppose they should.

There are borderline shifters that don’t necessarily physically change, but alter perceptions of how they appear.  The shifter itself may see itself differently, while others do not.  Or others may see the shifter differently, while it does not.

I have a few examples, but I’d love to hear more.

In the recently canceled My Own Worst Enemy, Christian Slater stars as a spy who’s ‘normal’ self is a ruthless, emotionless super-spy who performs his tasks with stealth and skill.  When a chip is switched inside his brain, he ‘shifts’ to Henry, the unassuming accountant who has a family and a nine-to-five job.  His perception of himself is shifted while the world views him the same.  I love this show!  Why do good shows always get canceled?

For another example, in my upcoming THE DEVIL TO PAY, my character of the devil, Himself, appears to others as their greatest temptation.  So let’s say if HImself were to appear on my doorstep, he’d look like Johnny Depp.  For you, he may resemble Clive Owen, or Gerard Butler.  You see?  He looks like the one thing you want most.  But to him, he looks like himself (unless he looks in a mirror, then he can see what you’re seeing).  So this shifter alters other’s perceptions while not physically changing.  I consider him a shifter.

These more subtle forms of shifters are so interesting.  I’m sure there are many more forms of them on television, in movies and books.  Tell me what or who you think is a perception shifter.  I’ll give away a copy of THE DEVIL TO PAY to a commenter (check back Sunday for winner).




  1. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Hey Michelle. Yeah, I liked that show too. (My own worst enemy) but then again your devil might come to me in the form of Christian Slater. KIDDING HUBBY! Seriously though, that’s a fantastic outlook though – perception shifters. Hmm, does make one think.

  2. Colleen said,

    I read a book like that once, but I can not think of the title at this moment… Devil as my temptation… hmmm… definitely someone HOT and sexy! 😀

  3. Karin said,

    Perception shifters are very interesting. Your description of Himself reminds me a bit of Mystique from the X-Men, who could change into any person she wanted.

    I think the heroine in THE NIGHT SERPENT by Anna Leonard might be a perciption shifter or a bit more. There are times in the book where odd things are described as happening to her that she doesn’t seem fully aware of, including one scene where her eyes change, but for her it’s only like a film came over them and she doesn’t know what is going on. So, there may be a touch of actual shifting going on as well as perception shifting.

  4. Pam P said,

    Michele, I was so disappointed to hear that Slater’s series was canceled, one of my favorite new shows. I guess you could say he’s kind a of a shifter, the brain shifts his pysche. Reading this post about your Devil appearing as someone else puts me in mind of an older TV show, Quantam Leap, where Scott Bakula appeared in the body of someone else. Can’t wait to read it.

  5. Lindsey Ekland said,

    Actually I do not think Himself actually qualifies as a shifter but as a mentalist or magic user. People’s perceptions of him change depending on what they desire which he facilitates but that does not fundamentally change who he is physically or mentally. His perception can shift when he looks in a mirror to see what the victim sees. This is a form of glamour like many elves use when visiting earth or having non-fae visit the fairy world.
    A shifter changes physically to something amimate or inanimate. Whether by magic or some other process the shift involves mass and transformation between the two points. In Sherilyn Kenyon’s books her men become wolves in form and function though they can think human.

  6. Zara said,

    The way a vampire sometimes uses glamour to alter a human’s perception is the only example that comes to mind for me. I know I’ve read many books that would qualify as having a perception shifter, but I cannot think of a specific one right now.

  7. Cathy said,

    My perception of a shifter is a physically change of some kind has to happen. In the book I just finished the woman started fires, caught on fire and smoked, but she remained the same. Not a shifter, he however had a demon half and changed size, glowed and destroyed things in this mindless state. I’d say he shifted.
    I’d love to read your book, I love paranormal and liked all your books I’ve read so far.

  8. azteclady said,

    What an interesting question!

    The obvious answer would be, yes, a shifter must change forms physically to qualify. However, the idea of influencing others’ perception of itself is extremely intriguing. Like Zara mentioned, the glamour used by some vampires or other paranormal beings… invisibility, perhaps? I am not sure I would consider that shifting but it’s an interesting premise.

    And now I’m thinking of another question. Anyone remembers the old Nora Roberts Silhouette Night Shadow, where after a car accident and a long coma, the hero can literally walk through walls and other stuff? Is he a shifter?

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