When I was growing up, my mother practically forced me out of bed at 5 am on Sunday’s to attend church. She practiced Catholicism since she was a child and felt it was necessary to instill the same morals in me at an early age. Every Sunday morning, I would do the same routine which was composed of kneeling, standing and sitting while listening to religious ramblings which in return left me feeling apathetic and downright bored. I'd stare off into space wondering why I was here. And for jokes, I'd try to steal the money from the collection basket that got passed around. To add more to the situation, I'd act as if I was being burned by holy water. My mother was not amused.
My young brain just couldn’t fathom why all this shit was so important. And then it dawned on me--religious folks were afraid of going to hell. They were practically terrified of having their souls condemned for all eternity. But who could blame them? Hell seems terrifying enough but what’s more terrifying than hell? I think demonic possession is.
Some would say death is a terrifying thing. Some even say that sharks are the epitome of nightmares. But if I'm being completely transparent here, I'm deathly terrified of demonic possession. To be completely out of control of your own body while an unseen force just completely dominates you is some horrifying shit. That is my number one fear.
The scariest movie of all time is the Exorcist. And there’s a reason for it. People from different religious backgrounds felt absolutely terrified after watching this film. The Exorcist had such a cultural impact upon its release--audiences had endured hours of waiting in line just to see it. Afterward, there were reports of people leaving the theater or fainting after watching it. A little extreme, but whatever...
But there's another film that is far more intense--in my opinion. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a film based on the case of Anneliese Michel. This film is centered around a trial involving a priest who performed a failed exorcism on a young girl. But I wanted to know the true story that inspired the film.
Anneliese Michel was born in Leiblfing, Germany. She was raised in a Catholic household. Anneliese upheld strict religious practices with her family. But at the tender age of sixteen, Anneliese experienced her first black-out. One evening while laying in her bed, she could feel an invisible force pressing down on her chest--pinning her to her bed. In the Exorcism of Emily Rose--there is a similar scene in the film replicating the event...
Almost a year later in August of 1969--Anneliese experienced a similar event. According to the family doctor, Dr. Vogt hypothesized this event as a seizure. Pause. A seizure? A seizure may have the symptoms of muscular contractions or spasms--but feeling as if something is pressing down on you--how is that considered to be a seizure? After running a brain scan--Dr. Luthy concluded that there were no signs of strange activity.
In 1973 after continued years of receiving medical treatments, Anneliese reported hearing voices of someone damning her to hell. She also claimed that she saw visions of demons and admitted that the devil was inside of her. Later that year, doctors diagnosed her as being neurotic and claimed that she was exhibiting "epileptic patterns". Along with dilantin, she was prescribed with another drug called tegretol. How many drugs are you going to give her until you realize that it's not something that can be treated with medicine? Excuse me while I roll my eyes forever...
In July of 1975, Anneliese's behavior worsened. Surprise, Surprise. She barely slept. She would lick urine off the floor. And she would eat flies and spiders. Her rage intensified as well. Unable to stand the presence of religious items, she shattered holy pictures, destroyed rosaries and obliterated crucifixes. What would you call that Dr. Vogt? Is that just another epileptic pattern?
Father Rodewyk, an expert on exorcisms was convinced that Anneliese was possessed. And after receiving approval from the Bishop, an exorcism was granted. The first exorcism conducted on Anneliese Michel was on September 24th 1975. There are 42 audio recordings from the event. These recordings may be disturbing to some viewers and you can listen to them (here.)
In May of 1976, Anneliese's family tied her up to prevent her from hurting herself. She would pull out her hair and bite herself. Along with self-infliction, she refused to eat. She claimed that the demons who possessed her didn't allow her to. After years of suffering, her family found her dead in her room on July 1st 1976. She had died at the age of twenty-three after sixty-seven exorcisms weighing sixty-eight pounds at the time of her death.
Her death was tragic to say the least. A young, bright and beautiful woman with her life ahead of her had fallen prey to supernatural occurrences. Anneliese was buried in the Klingenberg Cemetery, Klingenberg am Main.
But what could be worse than losing your daughter over an unseen force? Going to court for negligent homicide. In 1978, Mr. and Mrs. Michel, Father Alt and Father Penz went on trial for the death of Anneliese Michel. They were found guilty. Guilty of something they really couldn't control. How could it be negligent? The autopsy had revealed that her brain wasn't damaged by epileptic seizures which was the diagnosis from medical professionals. If anything the doctors should have been held accountable not the parents or the priests. But that's the beauty of our justice system--am I right? No worries--I'm just over here grieving over my daughter and now I have to go to prison...
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, you have to look at all of the aspects in regards to this case. I believe her doctors misdiagnosed her and should have been held accountable. Her condition couldn't be cured by modern medicine. And I truly believe that her family and her priests had done everything they could to save her.
I want to hear from you. What do you think? Was Anneliese truly plagued by unseen forces? Or was she suffering from a psychological or mental disorder?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!