Illustration: Daniel Strange
Dimension jumping sounds like something you'd read about in a Frank Miller comic, and that's because it kind of is.In short, "DJ" is the idea that, with the right technique, you can jump into a parallel universe where life is invariably better – like they do in the movies, but in real life, from the comfort of your bedroom or while you're on a toilet break at work.Unlike similar concepts which have been around for centuries – like astral projection, whose veterans claim to have had an intentional out-of-body experience – dimension jumping is a relatively new, predominantly-online phenomenon, found in YouTube tutorial videos and on a Reddit page with over 60,000 members.
The posts on the subreddit often describe how exactly to DJ, or what can be achieved by doing so. In one, the poster describes feeling "very unfilled and unhappy" in their job, and says they want to jump to a "fulfilling career" within a specific organisation. Two days later, the same user writes that they've received a phone call offering them an interview at the organisation they'd posted about wanting to work for.Largely, it's similar to stuff written about in The Secret – the idea that you can "attract" what you want out of life by following the "Law of Attraction", i.e. just thinking about wanting something loads. Only, because the principles of dimension jumping have been forged largely by anonymous people on the internet, and not a septuagenarian writer from Australia, the methods to "manifest" your desires are a bit weirder.
Dimension Jumping is centred around rituals – i.e. a task that'll help the user get from one place to another. One, described as the "mirror method", involves someone sitting in darkness and staring at their reflection in the mirror. Another, the "two glass method", involves emptying water from a full glass into an empty one, symbolically "emptying" your life of what you don't want and "filling" it with what you do.Some jumpers believe they've purposefully jumped to a parallel universe through a combination of these methods and a desire to change their life. Others believe they have accidentally jumped. These stories can be more unsettling to read, like the guy who says he woke up in a new house with a wife and kids he doesn't recognise.
Ryan Draft is a 31-year-old Psychology student from Michigan who falls into the first category. Initially, he tried the two-glass method out of curiosity and, he says, has successfully done it several times since, jumping to a dimension where he is more content, and even one where his flatmates do the household chores more often. He has since concocted his own "mental method", borrowing tips from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) – a divisive therapy technique based around perception and personal choice, which has been called a pseudoscience.The core idea behind dimension jumping – that several universes exist besides our own, such as the "parallel", "daughter" and "bubble" universes – has long been explored in scientific circles.For example, the late Professor Stephen Hawking dedicated his final days to writing a research paper that addresses the multiverse theory he first proposed in the 1980s. Submitted ten days before he died in 2018, Hawking theorised that if the Big Bang created several universes alongside our own, they'd be similar to ours and share the same laws of physics. Meanwhile, a 2017 study from the Royal Astronomical Society entertained the theory of a multiverse.That said, no amount of scientific theorising detracts from the fact some DJ adherents genuinely believe they have managed to transcend dimensions – a belief that raises questions about the state of mind of those involved in the dimension jumping "scene".
Professor James Alcock from the Department of Psychology at York University, Toronto tells me, "It's likely that people who report dimension-hopping are high in what psychologists refer to as fantasy-proneness, a personality characteristic associated with a difficulty in distinguishing fantasy from reality."Professor Alcock, author of Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Beliefs Are So Compelling, also explains that dimension jumping is all based around perception and memory, both of which can be "wildly inaccurate". "The only thing unique about this dimension-hopping is the interpretation that people give to it – an interpretation that is encouraged by the social interaction fostered by web pages dedicated to the supposed phenomenon," he says."I've heard of instances of people getting psychosis from doing it, but I don't know the truth of that," says Ryan, the dimension jumper from Michigan. "It gives reality a very surreal aspect. It's kind of similar to how Salvador Dali had a certain method for adjusting his perspective to reach the outlook he needed to paint his surrealist paintings. He said that he'd induce a certain form of psychosis whenever he did it. When I read that, I thought, 'That sounds a lot like DJ…' There's definitely something to it, whether it's a psychological aspect or a metaphysical aspect."One dimension jumper, a 16-year-old named Nick, who met me in person over a cup of tea, explained, "You jump to a different existence where your past is different and therefore your future will be different." He added that, after one of his jumps, he met a girl in the real world who was into the same music as him – namely A Tribe Called Quest and Marvin Gaye. "I'd never come across anybody that plays that music," he says, "then she started talking about it and I was like, 'Woah!'"Despite Nick's perceived successes, it's difficult to ignore the fact that a number of the dimension jumpers I spoke to seem to suffer from some kind of mental health condition.Isaac, from Iowa, says he'd previously thought dimension jumping could be linked to poor mental health. "It is something I've thought about," he said when we spoke on the phone. "I've actually been dealing with paranoia and schizophrenia. I have hallucinations, visual and auditory." Similarly, a woman I spoke to online known as SamsaraMobius has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia. "The theme of my life has been dimension jumping… since I was little, before anyone talked about it," she said, adding that during her schizophrenic episodes "strange things have happened".Whether dimension jumping is a placebo, a reasonably convoluted example of confirmation bias, a manifestation of poor mental health or simply a fun philosophical thought experiment, what's undeniable is that, for some of those who believe, DJ has helped to improve their lives.@JAK_TH