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Exorcism Movie Inspiration: Anneliese Michel

‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ portrayed the exorcism of a school-aged woman that took a few pages from the life of Anneliese Michel. In this article, you will learn details about Michel and what happened to her after the exorcisms were performed.

It was said that Anneliese Michel was supposedly possessed by demons and because of her behavior, had an exorcism performed on her. As a result, the German Catholic woman died. Her official cause of death was malnutrition and dehydration. Michel was raised in an observant Catholic family household. She was so devout that she would sleep on a bare floor during the wintertime to make reparations for the sins of wayward priests and drug addicts.

It was 1968 when Anneliese began to experience convulsions. She was 16 and a high school student. At the time, her parents were unaware that she was suffering from an epileptic attack. However, Michel started to hallucinate during prayer. She also started to hear voices that told her she was ‘damned.’ By 1973, Michel was depressed and contemplating taking her own life. Over time, her behavior continued to worsen. She would strip off her clothes, eat coal and spiders off of the floor, and lapped up her own urine.

Michel was 23 years old in 1975 when an older woman traveling on a pilgrimage concluded that Michel was suffering from demonic possession because she was unable to walk past a certain icon of Jesus Christ. She also refused to drink the water of a holy spring. An exorcist in a nearby town also examined Michel, and felt that she was possessed by a demon.

Michel went through 10 months of unsuccessful psychiatric treatments. Professional gave up on medical treatment and relied on exorcisms for healing. The rites of exorcism were performed on Michel between 1975 and 1976 , in a span on 10 months. She experienced a total of 67 sessions of exorcism , averaging about one or two per week. Some of the session lasted up to four hours. In this time period, she started to speak more of dying so that she could atone for the wayward youth and priests of the modern church. She also stopped eating.

It is said that Michel requested to stop consultations with doctors for her epilepsy. She had lost hope in modern medicine curing her. Anneliese Michel died in her sleep on July 1, 1976. An autopsy stated that she died of malnutrition and dehydration. Over the course of nearly a year, she went through a semi-starvation period at the same time that the rites of exorcism were performed. At the time of her death, she had weighed 68 pounds.

Two films were loosely based on the life and events that surrounded Michel’s case ,  “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Requiem.”