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THE EXORCISM OF ANNELIESE MICHEL
Remember the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose? It scared the
hell out of everyone but what if I tell you that it was based on
real events. Similar events happ...
Remember the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose? It scared the hell out of everyone but what if I tell you that it was based on real events. Similar events happened with a young girl named Anneliese during the 1960s in Germany. What is different about this event is that this was the first time such a case was taken to the court of law.
The movie was based on the life story of Anneliese Michel, a resident of Germany born in 1952 in Klingenberg. She was raised as a strict Catholic and was said to be a bright girl.
In September 1968, at the age of 16 years, she experienced her first episode of losing consciousness. She later described that she felt as if something was pressing down on her chest and pinning her to the bed. Eleven months later she had a similar episode and her mother took her to the family doctor, Dr. Vogt who referred her to a neurologist, Dr. Luthy. He ran a brain scan but the results came back normal. He diagnosed her with a possible form of seizure.
Anneliese had four more of these episodes in the next 4 years. The second episode was in 1969 and again a brain scan was done but the results were normal. The third episode occurred during 1970 and she was prescribed an anti-conversant. The fourth episode took place in 1972 and this time an anti-seizure medicine was added to the prescription.
During the spring of 1973, Anneliese started hearing knocking sounds and a voice damning her to hell. Her mother saw her furiously staring at the statue of Virgin Mary with black eyes. According to the mother, Anneliese hands had turned into thick paws with claws.
In September, during her visit to Dr. Luthy, Anneliese described horrific visions of demon faces tormenting her. She felt like the devil was inside her. She complained of smelling burnt feces. Dr. Luthy advised the family to consult a Jesuit, a religious official, but later denied this claim. The family visited Father Alt in September 1973 for consultation.
In November 1973, Anneliese met with a Freudian Psychiatrist who diagnosed her as a neurotic with possible epilepsy and claimed that she showed epileptic patterns.
During July 1975, her behavior worsened. She did not sleep, ate flies and spiders, and licked her own urine. She began destroying rosaries, crucifixes and holy pictures. She showed strength close to superhuman. In one instance, she squeezed an apple till it burst.
Father Rodewyk who was an expert on exorcisms was convinced that she was possessed and an exorcism was approved by the Bishop. On September 24th, 1975 the first exorcism was done by Father Renz. The entire exorcism was tape recorded and during this time, the demons revealed that there were five of them inside of Anneliese, namely:
What shocked the priest was that Anneliese described Fleischmann perfectly and she had no way of knowing him as he was an excommunicated priest from the 1500s.
In May 1976, Anneliese started banging her head against the walls, biting people and refused to eat anything. She weighed around 80 LBS at the time yet showed great strength.
In June, she refused a doctors visit even though she had a high fever.
On June 30th, another exorcism was done during which Anneliese only said two words please...absolution. She died the next day.
Anneliese Michel died of starvation at the age of 23 years. She weighed 68 LBS and 67 exorcisms had been performed on her.
In 1978, the parents of Anneliese, Father Renz, and Father Alt were accused of negligent homicide and the case went to trial.
Position of the Defense
The defense produced eyewitness testimonies and submitted the recordings of her exorcism as evidence of possession. They claimed that Anneliese was permitted to deny medical treatment. Thea Hein, a family friend, stated that Anneliese begged on her knees to not suggest medical attention. During the end of Anneliese life, Father Alt even looked for medical help and on May 30th, Dr. Richard Roth visited Anneliese. He claimed he did so just for scientific curiously and not as a physician. According to him, there were no signs of external injuries which were in stark contrast to Father Renz who claimed that Anneliese had several bruises, swollen cheeks, and black eyes.
The autopsy revealed no signs of brain damage that could cause epileptic seizures. The court, however, neglected key pieces of evidence like Anneliese dilated pupils and the fact that her body showed no signs of ulcers which are found in starvation victims.
Position of the Prosecution
The prosecution claimed that Anneliese had epilepsy and psychosis and that her parents and the priests were liable for not saving her life. Furthermore, Father Alt, according to the experts exhibited signs of Schizophrenia. They claimed that the medicine suppressed the epileptic seizures which led to a delusional psychosis associated with epilepsy. The exorcisms played into the fantasy of Anneliese who behaved normally between the exorcisms. It is interesting to note that the visions that Anneliese had pre-dated the medicine.
In the end, the court ruled in favor of the prosecution and the accused were sentenced to 6 months in prison and a 3-year suspension for the priests. They were also required to pay for all the court costs. The court ruled that Anneliese was unable to make decisions for herself and should have been forced to submit to medical care.