In 1975, Anneliese Michel was exhibiting some undeniably bizarre and frightening behavior, and her mother was at her wits' end. So, Mrs. Michel contacted the Catholic Church to exorcise her daughter. Anneliese had been hearing voices and exhibiting violent reactions to religious objects – hallmarks of demonic possession – and her parents were convinced she was possessed. The tale of the exorcism of Anneliese Michel was the basis for the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but the real story behind her behavior and her ultimate death is much more terrifying than anything Hollywood could have imagined.
Anneliese Grew Up In Germany With A Staunchly Catholic Mother
Born in 1952, Anneliese Michel was brought up by Bavarian parents alongside her brother and sister. Anneliese's mother had a daughter prior to Anneliese's birth, but the child, Martha, died at the age of 8. The death of Martha prompted Anneliese's mother to put a lot of pressure on the young Anneliese, particularly when it came to prayer and religious devotion. Anneliese was a good student, especially when it came to language study, and she was described as happy and playful but was under the constant watch of her parents. The family attended Mass twice a week and, according to doctors Anneliese met with later, she developed neuroses related to religious iconography as a result of punishments inflicted upon her as a young girl.
She Began To Demonstrate Symptoms Of Epilepsy And Experience Social Stigma At Age 16
While at school one day in 1968, Anneliese blacked out for a few minutes and, according to her friends, was in a trance-like state. Anneliese didn't remember the event and said that she was fine afterwards, but the same night, she woke up to a heavy feeling on her body and then wet the bed. She was kept home from school the next day, but there were no recurrences, and the family thought she was fine.
Over a year later, in August 1969, Anneliese had a similar event and was taken to a doctor to determine the cause. Her local doctor, Dr. Vogt, referred her to a neurologist, Dr. Siegmund Luthy. He did not diagnose her with anything, but shortly after visiting him, she was hospitalized for tuberculosis in February 1970. While in the hospital, she had a third event and, in addition to being depressed and lonely, was ridiculed and excluded by the other patients after wetting the bed.
Soon after this third experience, Anneliese said she saw colors, heard sounds, and experienced feelings of euphoria while saying a rosary. She was taken for more tests with another neurologist, Dr. von Haller, who diagnosed her with epilepsy and prescribed her medication.
Medicine Didn't Help Anneliese, And She Began To Think She Was Cursed
Anneliese eventually returned to school in 1970 but was withdrawn and depressed. She continued to have seizures, visit doctors, and experience frustration with her situation. She threw herself into Catholic books and practices, graduated from high school, and started college to become a teacher. Despite these efforts and continued medications, her condition worsened. By 1973, she experienced hallucinations while praying and believed she was damned. She was obsessed with the idea that the Devil was inside of her and began to see a priest as well as her doctors.
Her Behavior Became Erratic And, Frankly, Kind Of Gross – She Once Licked Her Own Urine Off The Floor
Anneliese's behavior became more extreme from 1973 onrward. She was said to have licked her own urine off the floor, eaten coal, ripped her clothes off, and even eaten bugs. She began to avoid religious items like crucifixes and holy water, and she displayed symptoms of what the Church considered demonic possession. Her family became desperate and asked several priests for an exorcism, but they declined and encouraged continued medical treatment. Eventually, the Church relented and granted Anneliese an exorcism to drive out any evil spirits within her.