Case of Anneliese Michel: Exorcism in 1970’s

Woman levitating over bed / excorcism

Anneliese Michel was a girl, born in Bavaria in Germany in 1950’s. She was born to a very catholic family. At the age of 17, after two seizures episodes, she was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. She received medication and went off to college. Unfortunately the medication was not working on her and she experienced the next big seizure incident, which scared her friends. 

Over her next years in college she developed new symptoms, she started believing she was possessed by a demon. She saw the faces of demons, she heard them talking to her. As her family consisted of strong believers, they easily acquired this idea. Anneliese and her family started searching for priests to help her, while constantly praying. Firstly many priests denied her their help, as she was searching for somebody who would perform exorcisms on her and this practice was no longer allowed nor supported. However after many tries Anneliese found a local priest who agreed and she even gained an approval from a bishop to get the exorcism.

When they gained approval Anneliese had already very strong delusions on which she was acting out, for example she would rip the clothes from her body or perform 400 squats during one day. The two priests, which gained the approval, performed 67 exorcisms on her in a span of 10 months. Over this time her delusions deepened and became more specific as the exorcism had been carried out. She also prayed on her knees so much that she injured her knees severely. She was restrained multiple times as this was required for her exorcisms. At the end of 10 month she stopped eating and as a result died from malnutrition and dehydration.

This tragic story shows that the dark ages of the middle ages have not fully ended even until now. Moreover all symptoms which Anneliese experience can be explained scientifically. Firstly she experienced scissors as a result of temporal lobe epilepsy and after all her delusions could be defined as hyperreligiosity, which is a characteristic of Geschwind syndrome. Both temporal lobe epilepsy and Geschwind syndrome typically go together. However diagnosing Anneliese is not possible nor relevant right now, it is very important to think about her case as an example when beliefs can change our understanding of the word so much that a life of a young girl was lost. Anneliese died at the age of 23 in 1976.

Paoletti, G. (2021, August 12). Anneliese Michel And The Shocking Images From The Exorcism of The Real Emily Rose. All that is interesting.

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