Immanuel Velikovsky was a Russian-Jewish psychiatrist most known for his controversial writings on ancient history, particularly “Worlds in Collision,” released in 1950 and over the objections of different academicians and scientists, became a best-seller in the United States. After finishing his medical studies, he began editing and translating scientific works into Hebrew for the periodical Scripta Universitatis, a project that was instrumental in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, he was more interested in ancient history, particularly celestial-caused global disasters and the reconstruction of ancient Middle Eastern history. After more than a decade of investigation, he completed two manuscripts, ‘Ages of Chaos’ and ‘Worlds in Collision,’ which were widely panned and barred from publication due to the lack of physical evidence for his claims. Despite the growing controversy, he proceeded to write new books in response to his critics’ criticism and queries. ‘Earth in Upheaval,’ ‘Oedipus and Akhnaton,’ ‘Peoples of the Sea,’ and ‘Ramses II and His Times’ were among them. His work, on the other hand, was recognized and respected over time, and he began giving talks at prestigious universities across North America. As a token of appreciation for this infamous psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced films about his life and work.
Childhood and Adolescence
Immanuel Velikovsky was born on June 10, 1895, into a rich Jewish family in Vitebsk, Russian Empire (now Belarus), as the youngest of three sons to Shimon Velikovsky and Beila Grodensky.
He learned a variety of languages as a kid and was later sent to Moscow’s Medvednikov Gymnasium to finish his education, where he excelled in mathematics and Russian and graduated with a gold medal in 1913.
He traveled extensively throughout Europe, visited Palestine, and went on to study medicine in Montpellier, France, and paramedicine at the University of Edinburgh.
Before World War I, he returned to Moscow and earned a medical degree from Moscow University in 1921.
After finishing his medical degree, Immanuel Velikovsky relocated to Berlin and began working as an editor at the ‘Scripta Universitatis’ journal, where Albert Einstein oversaw the mathematical-physical section.
He moved to Palestine in 1924 to practice medicine and psychoanalysis, which he had learned in Vienna under Wilhelm Stekel, a Sigmund Freud pupil. He also began editing the ‘Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana.’
His first paper was on the use of abnormal encephalograms to characterize epileptics. He also published a number of pieces in medical and psychoanalytic periodicals, including a few in Sigmund Freud’s ‘Imago.’
He took a one-year vacation to New York with his family in 1939, just before World War II broke out, and used the opportunity to research for his book ‘Oedipus and Akhenaton,’ based on Sigmund Freud’s ‘Moses and Monotheism.’
His first book, ‘Worlds in Collision,’ sparked a lot of debate before it was published because of his understanding of the solar system. Venus was thrown from Jupiter as a comet 3,500 years ago, and its gravitational force threw other planets off of their orbits or impacted their spin, including Earth’s.
After being rejected by eight publishers, Macmillan published the book in 1950, but due to greater pressure from academicians and scientists, particularly astronomer Dr. Harley Shapely, Macmillan later shifted it to Doubleday.
Immanuel Velikovsky’s next book, ‘Ages in Chaos,’ was released by Doubleday in 1952 and was a meticulous study of historical reconstruction between the Exodus and the Early Divided Monarchy era from 1450 BC to 840 BC.
In 1955, he wrote ‘Earth in Upheaval’ after being depressed by critics’ reactions to his ‘Worlds in Collision.’ He provided geological and paleontological evidence in this book to back up the theory he proposed in ‘Worlds in Collision.’
After spending most of the 1950s and early 1960s as an outcast on university and college campuses, his prophecies came true, and he began receiving requests to speak. He gave lectures in front of standing-room-only crowds at universities around North America.
His book ‘Oedipus and Akhenaton’ was released in 1960.
‘Peoples of the Sea’ (1977) and ‘Ramses II and His Time’ (1978) were originally intended as a sequel to ‘Ages in Chaos,’ with the reconstruction extending until 33 BC.
He finished two further books as part of his ‘Ages in Chaos’ chronology: ‘The Assyrian Conquest’ and ‘The Dark Ages of Greece,’ which remained unpublished until his death and were eventually made available online through the ‘Velikovsky Archive.’
Later in 1982 and 1983, he published ‘Mankind in Amnesia,’ a psychoanalytic work on his theory of collective amnesia, and ‘Stargazers and Gravediggers,’ a book about the academic resistance to his work.
Major Projects of Immanuel Velikovsky
Despite being prohibited by numerous academic institutions, his book ‘Worlds in Collision,’ which describes the expulsion of Venus from Jupiter as a comet and the effect of its gravitational field on other planets, became a non-fiction best-seller in the United States.
Achievements & Awards
Immanuel Velikovsky received an honorary Doctor of Arts and Science degree from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1974.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1923, in Berlin, Germany, Immanuel Velikovsky married violinist and pianist Elisheva Kramer. Shulamit Velikovsky Kogan, born in 1925, and Ruth Ruhama Velikovsky Sharon, born in 1926, where the couple’s two daughters.
In 1975, Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, created a Center for Velikovskian and Interdisciplinary Studies in his honor.
He died on November 17, 1979, at the age of 84, at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, after suffering from diabetes and periodic depression.
‘The Jewish Science of Immanuel Velikovsky,’ by Duane Vorhees, is a biography of Velikovsky.
Ruth Ruhama Velikovsky Sharon, his daughter, has authored two biographies: “Aba – The Glory and the Torment – The Life of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky” (1995) and “Immanuel Velikovsky – The Truth Behind the Torment” (2001). (2003).
Immanuel Velikovsky’s Net Worth
Immanuel is one of the wealthiest psychologists and one of the most well-known psychologists. Immanuel Velikovsky’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
The publication ‘Scripta Universitatis,’ which he published and translated into Hebrew, was essential in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.