Cartoon: multiple Jeffrey Baumgartners in a row - representing his multiple realities

A Quantum Link Between Creativity and Insanty?

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

One of the debates in the world of creativity research centres around the apparent connection between creativity and mental illness, with some researchers claiming a strong link between the two and others claiming those researchers are wrong. I wonder if the first group of researchers are correct and if quantum physics and the multiverse may be the link.

One of the wilder propositions of quantum physics is that we exist in a multiverse in which there are a near infinite number of parallel universes, co-existing simultaneously and each in an unreachable alternate reality from the others. Further, whenever anything happens (in any of those universes), that could have two or more outcomes, the universe splits in two with one universe for each option. For example, if you invite me to dinner (thanks very much, I'd love to!) and we have a discussion about whether to go to the local Thai or the local Italian restaurant, our universe splits into at least two universes, one in which we go to the Thai place and the other in which we opt for Italian. And, if one of us even considers Ethiopian, there will be another universe still. As we look at the menu, debating dishes, yet more universes are created for each considered menu item. Indeed, if you really cannot decide between penne alla Norma and the spaghetti alla puttanesca, don't worry. In the multiverse, you will have both.

Multiple Jeffrey Baumgartners in his homeoffice

So, how does this connect to the link between creativity and insanity?

I have been described publicly, such as in reviews for my novel, The Insane Journey, as "highly imaginative", as very creative and as eccentric (sometimes using less politically correct terms!). That means that in many situations, I tend to visualise more options than most people do. And some of those options are weird, some are socially unacceptable and some are just evil. Fortunately, my parents brought me up to be respectful, polite and law-abiding. So, my mind promptly rejects the evil ideas and usually rejects the socially unacceptable and overly weird ideas.

But, if the multiverse theory is correct, these situations are creating a new universe for each idea I have, even the irrational and evil ones my mind in this universe rejects as completely unacceptable. By nature of having these ideas, I am creating realities in which they are realised.

Creating Alternate Evil Jeffreys

For example, if I am walking along one of the country lanes in my village and a group of cyclists, in their Lycra costumes, race past on their specialist bicycles, my mind often briefly considers the option of sticking my elbow out in order to knock one over. Since gangs of cyclists around here tend to ride in close formation, that would almost certainly result in a number of them going down and getting hurt.

I never seriously consider this option, of course. I am a pacifist and a bicyclist. But, in the multiverse, if the idea even comes to mind as an option, then a new universe is created where evil Jeffrey does indeed knock down loads of bicyclists.

Naughty Jeffrey

As a man, I think about sex from time to time and, to be perfectly honest, occasionally even more often than that. Some of those thoughts are not acceptable behaviour and to act upon them would get me into trouble. I have no desire to act on such thoughts; I feel that sex is an act of love, or at least shared pleasure, between consenting adults. Nevertheless, the multiverse implies that just having sexually deviant thoughts creates new universes where a sexual deviant Jeffrey is locked up for his horribly actions. I hope not!

I love kids. But just saying those words often causes me to add in my mind, "...gently sautéed in white wine with onion and garlic." Does this create a new universe in which a really sick Jeffrey does that? I hope not! I really do love kids!

Slightly Evil Jeffrey

Less evilly, if I see a push chair with a baby in it, by a table in an outdoor café, it might cross my mind to run, grab the push chair and dash off with the baby just for the fun of it! Has an insane Jeffrey done this in other universes?

And so on. I regularly have thoughts of doing strange and occasionally evil things. I have sexually deviant thoughts. I have criminal thoughts. I have thoughts about cheating on people. Everyone does, I expect. But creative people, by nature of having creative minds are likely to have more diverse and more frequent insane, evil and deviant thoughts

If the quantum physics hypothesis of a multiverse of alternative universes is true, there must be universes created in which an evil, insane Jeffrey does terrible things; a universe in which he is considered psychotic and locked up for the safety of society and himself. Moreover, remember, in each new universe, the actions of the Jeffreys there cause additional splitting of universes. So, in the universes in which I go bad, I create new universes in which I am even worse.

Our Lunatics are Creatives in Other Universes

Of course, looking at it the other way, people that are insane in our universe are likely creative thinkers in other universes. It just happens that this particular universe is the one in which their inappropriate thoughts became reality.

I Hope I Am Wrong

I hope this hypothesis is wrong! My parents raised me to be honest, respectful of others and considerate. I like to provoke people now and then, but I do not want to hurt anyone. As I have said, I am a pacifist. But, I have a crazy imagination. And, if the multiverse theory is true, then there are probably uncountable evil Jeffreys causing mischief, and worse, in their alternative realities. I don't like that idea at all. It makes me want to rip off my shirt, paint strange symbols on my chest, jump on my desk and scream in frustration while tap-dancing. And, viola, there may be a universe out there in which I do precisely that. But, I hope not!

Further Reading

 Read the Wikipedia entry on multiple universes for more information and links to further reading.

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