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Helen Schucman

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Helen Cohn Schucman
Helen Dora Cohn

(1909-07-14)July 14, 1909
New York City, US
DiedFebruary 9, 1981(1981-02-09) (aged 71)
New York City, US
Occupation(s)Professor of medical psychology, Columbia University
Known forA Course In Miracles (ACIM)
SpouseLouis Schucman

Helen Cohn Schucman (born Helen Dora Cohn, July 14, 1909 – February 9, 1981) was an American clinical psychologist and research psychologist. She was a professor of medical psychology at Columbia University in New York from 1958 until her retirement in 1976. Schucman is best known for having "scribed" with the help of colleague William Thetford the book A Course in Miracles (1st edition, 1975),[1][2] the contents of which she claimed had been given to her by an inner voice she identified as Jesus. However, at her request, her role as its "writer" was not revealed to the general public until after her death.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Schucman was born Helen Dora Cohn in 1909 to Sigmund Cohn,[4] a prosperous metallurgical chemist, and Rose Black, the daughter of a former rabbi from Germany. [5] They married on October 18, 1896, in Manhattan and Schucman had an elder brother, Adolph Cohn,[6] who was almost 12 years her senior. Though her parents were both half-Jewish, they were non-observant. Schucman's mother Rose had an interest in Theosophy and various expressions of Christianity such as Christian Science and the Unity School of Christianity.

However, it was the family housekeeper, Idabel,[7] a Baptist, who had the deepest religious influence on Schucman while she was growing up. In 1921, when she was 12, Schucman visited Lourdes, France, where she had a spiritual experience, and in 1922 she was baptized as a Baptist.[8] Later in life, she considered herself an atheist.[9]

She received her B.A. from New York University (NYU), (1931–1935), where she met fellow student Louis Schucman[10] in 1932 and whom she married, in a 10-minute ceremony in a local rabbi's office, on May 26, 1933. Louis owned one or more bookstores on "Book Row" in Manhattan,[11] and during the early years of their marriage Schucman worked at his main store. Growing restless in her early forties, she returned to NYU to study psychology. She received her M.A. in 1952, followed by her Ph.D. (1952–1957).[3][12]


A Course In Miracles (ACIM) Combined Volume

Schucman was a clinical and research psychologist, who held the tenured position of Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. During her tenure at Columbia University, Schucman worked with William Thetford,[13] whom she first met in early 1958.

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) was "scribed" by Schucman between 1965 and 1972 through a process of inner dictation.[14] She experienced the process as one of a distinct and clear dictation from an inner voice, which earlier had identified itself to her as Jesus.[15] Her scribing of A Course in Miracles began with these words: "This is a course in miracles. Please take notes."[16]

Wouter Hanegraaff[17] distinguishes Schucman's process as a type of channeling that articulates revelation, clarifying that "... in cases of inner dictation in which the medium hears a voice dictating messages, (s)he writes down [these messages] in a fully conscious state." Hanegraaff continues by specifically characterizing Schucman's case as spontaneous channeling, indicating that "...[o]ver the years the voice proved to be remarkably consistent, stopping the dictation when interrupted [by Schucman's daily activities] and continuing at the next opportunity."[18] Hanegraaff also references specific dialogue between Schucman and William Thetford citing author Robert E. Skutch,[19][20] among other authors, including Kenneth Wapnick (1942-2013),[21] whom Hanegraaff indicates as a "good" source for complete discussion on this subject.

During this time, Schucman worked in a collaborative venture with William Thetford in scribing A Course In Miracles (ACIM) and also with its initial edits.[16] The main transcription process took seven years, from 1965 through 1972, during which time she would take down the notes in shorthand, then each day read back these notes to Thetford, who would type them out while she read them. After all the ACIM material had been initially transcribed it was then edited for publication by Schucman and the other two primary editors, Thetford and Kenneth Wapnick.

Cover of Absence from Felicity, Schucman's only biography

Schucman also wrote two supplemental ACIM pamphlets[22] by the same process as well as a collection of poetry later published as The Gifts of God. Following the transcription and editing, Schucman began to reduce the level of her direct involvement in the ACIM related effort and was never as heavily involved with teaching or popularizing the material as were its editors, Bill Thetford and Kenneth Wapnick.

Helen Schucman, painted by Brian Whelan


In 1980 Schucman was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. After a prolonged illness, she died of related complications at age 71 in 1981.[3]


A collection of her poems, The Gifts of God, was posthumously published by the Foundation for Inner Peace.[3]

Absence From Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles is the only biography of Schucman. It was written by her longtime friend, Kenneth Wapnick.

Wapnick later founded the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (FACIM), an organization that claimed to hold a copyright to A Course In Miracles. Upon Wapnick's death in 2013, the purported copyright to A Course In Miracles reverted to the Foundation For Inner Peace (FIP).


  • Schucman, Helen (1960). Evaluating the educability of the severely mentally retarded child. American Psychological Association. OCLC 62427139.
  • Schucman, Helen (June 1972). The Retarded Child from Birth to Five: A Multidisciplinary Program for the Child and Family. John Day Co. ISBN 978-0-381-98127-3. OCLC 303564.
  • Schucman, Helen (1989). The Gifts of God. Berkeley: Celestial Arts. ISBN 0-89087-585-5. (contains 114 poems that share the spiritual content of the Course as well as the prose poem "The Gifts of God," which summarizes the teachings of the Course)


  1. ^ The 1st edition of A Course in Miracles was published in 1975 as a 4-volume set of books. Vol. 1 contains Chapters 1-14 of the "Text" section of the Course, Vol. 2 contains Chapters 15-30 of the "Text" section of the Course, Vol. 3 contains the "Workbook" section of the Course, and Vol. 4 contains the "Teacher's Manual" section of the Course. The Foundation for Parasensory Investigation - founded and run by Judith Skutch and her second husband Robert E. Skutch - was the publisher of the 1st edition of the Course, and also held the 1975 Copyright to the work. The Freeperson Press, a small privately owned printing/publishing company located at 325 Ninth Street in San Francisco, California, did the actual printing and binding of the 1st edition of the Course. The edition published by the Foundation for Inner Peace claims that the course "was published in three volumes in June 1976". The 1st edition of the Course consisted, in total, of 300 sets of the 4-volume Course. These 300 sets of the 4-volume Course were printed and bound - over a period of several months in 1975 - by the Freeperson Press. Eleanor Camp Criswell, owner/manager of the Freeperson Press, was in charge of the printing and binding of the 1st edition of the Course. Consequently, it has become customary to refer to the 1st edition of the Course either as the "Criswell edition" or the "Freeperson Press edition". Criswell only printed 100 sets of the 4-volume Course at a time - as they were needed for sale and distribution - so the 1st edition of the Course is actually three separate "printings" of the books. The "first printing" of the "1st edition," consisting of the first 100 4-volume sets of the Course printed by Criswell, were bound in yellow covers. The "second printing" of the "1st edition," consisting of the next 100 4-volume sets of the Course printed by Criswell, were bound in white covers. The "third printing" of the "1st edition," consisting of the final 100 4-volume sets of the Course printed by Criswell, were bound in blue covers. By February 1976, all 300 4-volume sets of the "Criswell edition" of the Course had been sold and/or distributed. Judith (born Judith M. Rothstein on April 12, 1931) married Robert Edward Skutch (born July 19, 1925) in 1966 (it was Judith's second marriage), but they divorced (on friendly terms) in 1980. Later in the 1980s, Judith Skutch married William Wallace "Whit" Whitson (December 3, 1926 - February 8, 2018) and became known as Judith Skutch Whitson. Eleanor Camp Criswell (born May 12, 1938) became known as Eleanor Criswell Hanna [Wikidata] after her marriage to philosopher Thomas Louis Hanna (Nov. 21, 1928 - July 29, 1990) on June 25, 1974. Thomas L. Hanna was the originator of Hanna Somatics, aka Hanna Somatic Education. In 1975 Thomas and Eleanor co-founded the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training, located at Novato, California.
  2. ^ A complete copy of the 4-volume 1st edition of the Course, known variously as the "Criswell edition" or the "Freeperson Press edition," has been placed online and can be read here: http://openacim.org
  3. ^ a b c d "Biography". Archived from the original on 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
  4. ^ Sigmund Cohn (July 14, 1871 - February 1951) was a prosperous metallurgical chemist, born in New York City. Sigmund died in February 1951, and he was cremated on February 4, 1951, at the Ferncliff Crematorium located on the grounds of the Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum (Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York). Sigmund Cohn began his business career by partnering with David Belais (July 2, 1862 - June 5, 1933) in 1901 to form Belais & Cohn, which was located at 13 Dutch Street, near the Financial District in lower Manhattan, New York City. When Belais & Cohn was dissolved in 1917, David Belais remained at 13 Dutch Street and, partnering with his brother Henry Belais (March 2, 1857 - June 1, 1940), resumed business under the name Belais Brothers. Belais Brothers went out of business in 1929. Shortly after the dissolution of Belais & Cohn in 1917, Sigmund Cohn moved to 44 Gold Street (which is only about 2 blocks east of 13 Dutch Street) in lower Manhattan and resumed his business under the name Sigmund Cohn Manufacturing Company Inc. Over the years this company (whose main office was located at 44 Gold Street at least between 1919-1950) became very successful and expanded to become several different companies, located in different states. The parent company, which eventually relocated to Mount Vernon, New York, now operates under the name of the Sigmund Cohn Corporation. From the beginning of his career in 1901, Cohn was engaged primarily in the business of platinum refining and in the manufacture of precious metal platinum alloys for the jewelry industry. In the 1900-1925 period, the jewelry industry was by far the largest consumer of platinum alloys. Presently (2013) the Sigmund Cohn Corporation, via its several companies, specializes in manufacturing precious and base metal products, and supplies approximately 20 different industries, including: aerospace, defense, medical devices, semiconductors, temperature measurement and control, automotive components, jewelry, and electronics. After Sigmund Cohn's death, his son Adolph Cohn (1897-1984) became President and Director of Research of the Sigmund Cohn Corporation. The current President and CEO of Sigmund Cohn Corporation is Thomas A. Cohn (born 1957), who is a great-grandson of Sigmund Cohn. For additional documentation on the history of both Belais & Cohn and the Sigmund Cohn Manufacturing Company Inc., see http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=1&xmldoc=19478716gztcm865_1664.xml&docbase=CSLWAR1-1950-1985&SizeDisp=7 - Cohn v. Commissioner 6 T.C.M. 865 (1947) (Sigmund Cohn v. Commissioner. Docket No. 9659. United States Tax Court. Entered July 18, 1947)
  5. ^ Rose (or Rosa) Black (September 1, 1875 - April 1944) ( see: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WPN-ZHY ), who was born in Cairo, Illinois, was a daughter of Simon Black (Block) and Amelia ("Minna" or "Minnie") Holzstein (Holdstein, Holstein or Hollstin). Rose B. Cohn was cremated on April 4, 1944 at the Ferncliff Crematorium located on the grounds of the Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum (Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York). According to U. S. Census records, Simon Black was born in Germany in August 1827/1828, and immigrated to the United States in 1861. He and Minna Holzstein were married in New York City. Minna died on January 30, 1897, in Manhattan. Simon Black was trained as a rabbi, and it is known that he acted in that capacity while living in England.
  6. ^ Adolph Cohn (November 19, 1897 - October 1984) - He was cremated on October 31, 1984 at Ferncliff Crematorium located on the grounds of Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum (Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York).
  7. ^ For a detailed account of the relationship between Schucman and Idabel, see Journey Without Distance - The Story Behind A Course in Miracles (Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1984), by Robert Skutch, pp. 19-21.
  8. ^ com/helen-schucman Helen Schucman – the reluctant author of ACIM[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "MARIANne's FAITHFUL | Vanity Fair | June 1991".
  10. ^ Louis Schucman (August 19, 1908 - December 15, 1999)
  11. ^ Louis Schucman specialized in selling Americana and used and/or rare books. After 1935 he maintained several bookstores on "Book Row" in Manhattan, both upstairs and on the street level. "Book Row" was an area of Manhattan consisting of a certain part of Broadway and the section of Fourth Avenue between 9th and 14th Streets. Louis was a member of the Fourth Avenue Booksellers Association, whose membership in its heyday included 21 booksellers. In 1953 his main bookstore, named Louis Schucman Bookseller, was located at 77 Fourth Avenue. Louis retired from the bookselling business in 1993, at which time he sold his entire remaining book inventory to Pennsylvania State University. See Marvin Mondlin, Roy Meador & Madeleine B. Stern - Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2004; [Berkeley, CA]: Distributed by Publishers Group West) - Chapter 12 of this book contains information on Louis Schucman and his various bookstores in Manhattan.
  12. ^ The Scribe
  13. ^ William Newton Thetford (April 25, 1923 - July 4, 1988)
  14. ^ Wapnick, Kenneth (1991). Absence from Felicity
  15. ^ Wapnick, Kenneth (1991). Absence from Felicity, pp. 97-131.
  16. ^ a b "The Scribing of "A Course in Miracles"". Foundation for Inner Peace. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  17. ^ Wouter Jacobus Hanegraaff (born on April 10, 1961) - Full professor of the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and President of ESSWE (European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism). He is the editor of Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, and is the author of several books, including New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1996).
  18. ^ Hanegraaff, WJ. (1996). New Age Religion and Western Culture. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. pp. 24, 30. ISBN 0-7914-3854-6.
  19. ^ Robert Edward Skutch (born July 19, 1925)
  20. ^ Skutch, Robert (2001) [1984]. Journey Without Distance: the story behind "A Course in Miracles". Celestial Arts. ISBN 978-1-58761-108-7.
  21. ^ Kenneth Lawrence Wapnick (February 22, 1942 - December 27, 2013)
  22. ^ Supplements to A Course in Miracles: 1. Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice 2. The Song of Prayer. Viking Adult. 1996. ISBN 0-670-86994-5.


  • Robert Skutch (1996). Journey Without Distance: the story behind "A Course in Miracles". Mill Valley: Foundation for Inner Peace. ISBN 1-883360-02-1. (discusses the pre-publication history of ACIM)
  • Kenneth Wapnick (1999). Absence from Felicity: the story of Helen Schucman and her scribing of "A Course in Miracles" (2nd ed.). New York: Foundation for A Course in Miracles. ISBN 0-933291-08-6. (discusses Helen Schucman and the pre-publication history of ACIM)

External links[edit]