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Many events happen around us. They are usual and we know why. But on the other hand, we sometimes find unusual things happening that cannot be explained. They are the unsolved mysteries cases that remain without any explanation. If you have watched the 2005 movie, ‘the Exorcism of Emily Rose, you may have experienced horrifying events the movie, and the truth is that it is not entirely fictional, instead of based on a real story of a girl called Anneliese Michel. 

The real story is actually the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. It is one of the few actual cases of the possession of a demon that went to be a court case. Do demons exist? This story proves to be the evidence for this question, and let’s who is this Anneliese Michel and the true story behind the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. 

Who is Anneliese Michel? 

Anneliese Michel

Anneliese Michel, fully known as Anna Elisabeth Michel was born in 1952 in the small town of Klingenberg, in Bavaria Germany. She was raised as a strict Catholic who attended Mass twice a week. She was described by everyone as a very bright and likable girl. 

In was in 1968 September, Anneliese was 16 years old, and she first experienced losing consciousness. She suddenly got blacked out at school and began to walk around the dazed. Her friends and family described Anneliese to be in a trance-like state. 

And late at night she felt as if something was pressing down on her chest, and pinning her to the bed. 11 months later, in August 1969, a similar event happened where she woke up in a trance and wet her bed. Her body went through a series of convulsions which caused her body to shake uncontrollably. 

After this event, Anneliese’s mother took her to a family doctor Dr. Vogt and a neurologist, Dr. Luthy. They examined her and ran an ECG, and brain scan but found nothing wrong with her body. They hypothesized it is possibly a form of seizure which is a sudden, uncontrolled electric disturbance that occurs in the brain. 

Over the next three years, Anneliese experienced two more events that were similar and she has prescribed two medications, which are an anticonvulsant medication and an anti-seizure medication called Dilantin. 

Both of occasions, they noticed the ECG would come back to normal and will have only a minor irregular pattern. But nothing explained her symptoms accurately. 

The diagnosis that failed 

She was continuing to take medications for temporal lobe epilepsy, which causes loss of memory,  experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations, and seizures.  It was said that temporal lobe epilepsy, can cause Geschwind syndrome,  which is a disorder that causes a psychiatric disturbance in a person experiencing intense beliefs and events interfering with the normal functioning. 

After diagonalizing,  she began taking medications for epilepsy.  And then she enrolled in the University of Wurzburg in 1973.   But the medication she was taking for the disorder,  did not help and as time went by, her condition began to get worsen. But she never stopped her medications.

Possession of demons

Things took to turn strange for Anneliese, and she began to hear knocking sounds in her bedroom. She also heard voices damning her to hell. Her mother was worried about her situation when she found Anneleise furiously staring at the statue of the Virgin Mary. Then Anneliese began to believe that she was possessed by a demon and she needs to find a solution.

She began to see the face of the devil wherever she went and heard demons whispering in her ears. She also got the smell of something that had the aroma of burnt feces. She heard them while she was praying and that was when she confirmed that the devil must be possessing her.

Exorcism of Anneliese Michel

Anneliese went out to a priest to help her with her demonic possession. But all the clergy she approached rejected her request of her and instead said that she should seek medical help and we need the permission of a Bishop. But she noticed that her delusions were extreme at this point. 

Unsolved Mysteries cases

Believing that he was possessed by a demon,  she ripped off the clothes from her body and performed up to 400 squats a day.  she barked like a dog and crawled under the table. She started to eat spiders and coal. she once bit the head of a dead bird and licked her own urine from the floor. 

She destroyed the holy pictures, rosaries, and the crucifixes on the wall.  She exhibited strength by throwing her sister like a Ragdoll.  She was found squeezing an apple effortlessly with one hand, and it exploded. 

The unofficial diagnosis

The first time Anneliese Michel was diagnosed by an older woman, who accompanied her on a pilgrimage. At that time, she noticed Anneliese avoiding walking past the particular image of Jesus and she refused to drink water from the holy spring. She also claimed that Anneliese smelled hellishly bad. 

An exorcism was performed

When things went off to an extreme, she and her mother found a priest called Ernst Alt, who believed in her possession. 

A priest named Father Rodewyk engaged in this case. He was considered an expert on the exorcisms by his peers and reported that he was convinced that Anneliese was possessed. He petitioned the local bishop, Bishop Josef Stangl who approved the request and granted a local priest Arnold Renz permission to perform the exorcism. While he ordered it to be carried out in a total secret.

The bishop who gave permission for exorcism


On September 24, 1975, the first exorcism rite was performed and Father Renz allowed some of the exorcism sessions to be recorded. In total, 42 audio recordings were made in the exorcism session. 

Anneliese named Fleishmann as one of her demons. She provided accurate details of the real Fleischmann. He was a priest in the 1500s and was kicked out of the church for his bad behavior. Father Alt was shocked to hear the details and said that Anneleise had no way of knowing Fleishmann. 

Why was Anneliese Michel possessed?

Exorcisms existed in various religions and cultures for many years.  It became popular in the Catholic Church in the 1500s.   Over the next 10 months,  following the approval of the bishop to conduct the exorcism on Anneliese, Alt and Renz conducted 67 exorcisms lasting for up to four hours.  In these sessions, Anneliese revealed that she believed in being possessed by six demons. 

All these spirits possessed her body for the power and would communicate from her mouth. 

The death of Anneliese 

Throughout the sessions,  she was found talking about “dying to atone for the wayward youth of the day and the apostate priests of the modern church.”  she broke the bones and ripped the tendons in the knees.  Over 10 months she was frequently restrained for the priest to conduct exorcisms rites. 

By May, she became more worst, where she banged her head against the wall and bit herself. Her family members had to tie her up to prevent her from hurting herself. Over time, she is slowly stopped eating and described that she is not being permitted to eat. She weighed under 80 pounds while exhibiting great strength when people tried to restrain her.

By the month of June, Anneliese’s entire place was sunk in, and she refused to visit the doctor even when she had a high fever. On June 30th,  she had another exorcism. The next day morning after exorcism on July 31st, 1976, when her family went to the room,  she was found dead.   It was reported because of malnutrition and dehydration. she was just 23 years old when she died. 

One of the unsolved mysteries cases

After the death of Analiese, the story became a national sensation in Germany.  The parents and the two priests who conducted the exorcism were charged with negligent homicide.  In the court, they came up with the recordings of The Exorcism to justify the actions.

But the do priests were found guilty of manslaughter resulting from negligence.  They were sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation. 

From the start point of being nonreligious,  the defense argued that Anneliese Michel was permitted to deny the medical treatment,  which would have included force-feeding her,  tranquilizing her,  and therapies consisting of electric shock.

A family friend called Thea Hein recalled that in 1976, a few months before the death of Michel, she reportedly quote “Begged on her knees” for Hein to not suggest medical attention to anybody. 

Father Alt actually looked for medical help towards the end,  and on May 30th,  his friend  Dr. Richard Roth visited Anneleise and claimed that he came in scientific curiosity. 

He also claimed that she had no external injuries but Father Renz had noticed several bruises, black eyes, and swollen cheeks. And the doctor said that there are no injections against the devil. 

An autopsy revealed that Anneliese had a healthy brain with no damage that could cause epileptic seizures. It was even shocking when the court non consider the fact that her pupils were dilated unusually, the absence of ulcers on her body, normally found on the victims of starvation. 

The prosecution argued that Anneliese had epilepsy and psychosis. The parents and the two priests were liable for failing to save her life. But the parents although found guilty, were not punished. 

During the trial, the issue was related to the church itself. A not-guilty verdict was seen to be opening the way to more attempts of exorcism, and possibly with unfortunate outcomes. But mostly, the observers experienced believed the effect would be the opposite,  merely bringing charges of the negligent homicide against priests and parents would provoke changes and more caution.

Before the trial,  the parents asked the authorities to bury the remains of their daughter.  They did so because a Carmelite nun from the district of Allgau in Southern Bavaria gave a message to the parents that a vision was revealed to her that the daughter’s body was still intact and authenticated the Supernatural character of the case.  But the parents presented an unofficial reason to the authorities saying that Michel had been buried in an undue hurry in a cheap coffin. 

Almost 2 years after the burial,  remains were replaced in a New oak coffin lined with tin,  on February 25, 1978. The official reports stated when the body had signs of consistent deterioration. 

How is Annelies Michel is remembered? 

Based on this true story,  the famous horror movie ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’ was released in 2005.  The movie follows a lawyer who takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest to allegedly performed a deadly exorcism on a young woman. 

The film was both praised and panned by critics for the depiction of the scene of the court case that followed the death of the character  Emily Rose.  The movie mostly focused on the courtroom drama,  with plenty of scary flashbacks that depicted the incident of the exorcisms, and the death of Emily at the age of 19. 

Emily screaming the names of all the demons to the priest is one of the most memorable scenes from the film. The movie had mixed reviews and the movie picked up a couple of awards. 

Anneliese Michel gravestone

Anneliese Michel became an icon for some Catholics.  People who were connected to Michel were completely convinced that she had really been possessed. Her grave became a gathering point for religious outsiders.  They write notes with requests and thanks for the help and left them on the grave.  While they pray, sing, and travel on. 

She became a source of inspiration for some religious people and the story is not one of the spirituality triumphing over science, but was for people who should have known better than allowing a mentally ill woman to die.

The story was projecting their own beliefs, faith, and hopes onto a delusion of a woman. 


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