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The Chilling Exorcism of Anneliese Michel

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15:06   |   Nov 12, 2016

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The Chilling Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
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  • - [Man In Gray] So we're about to discuss
  • a case of demonic possession so chilling
  • and controversial that it actually became
  • the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
  • What follows is the true story that inspired that,
  • The exorcism of Anneliese Michel.
  • - Ooh.
  • - It's one of the few actual cases of demonic possession
  • that went to court.
  • - Alright, wait did they like sue the demon?
  • - You'll find out. - Okay.
  • - [Man In Gray] Born in 1952 in the small town
  • of Klingenberg, in Bavaria Germany, Anneliese Michel
  • was raised as a strict Catholic and was described
  • as very bright and likable.
  • In September 1968, when Anneliese was 16 years old,
  • she experienced her first episode of losing consciousness.
  • And later that night, she felt as if something
  • was pressing down on her chest, pinning her to her bed.
  • 11 months later in August 1969, a similar event occurred
  • and her mother took Anneliese to their family doctor,
  • Dr. Vogt and a neurologist, Dr. Luthy
  • who examined her and even ran an EEG, a brain scan,
  • but found nothing wrong.
  • They hypothesized that it could possibly be
  • a form of seizure.
  • Over the next three years, Anneliese would have
  • two more similar episodes and was prescribed
  • two medications, an anticonvulsant medication
  • and an anti-seizure medication called Dilantin.
  • On both occasions, an EEG would come back normal
  • with some minor irregular patterns, but nothing
  • that would definitively explain her symptoms.
  • - [Man In Red] What year was this?
  • - [Man In Gray] This was in 1969.
  • - [Man In Red] Okay I'm fine with that so far,
  • that sounds real.
  • - Okay.
  • - Spiders on me, sorry if I blew it on you.
  • - [Man In Gray] It was in Spring 1973
  • that things took a turn for the stranger.
  • Anneliese began to hear knocking sounds in her bedroom.
  • Sounds her sisters would hear as well.
  • But even more alarming, Anneliese also reported hearing
  • a voice damning her to hell.
  • Her mother was further rattled when she witnessed
  • Anneliese furiously staring at a statue of
  • the Virgin Mary with, quote, "Eyes turned black, jet black.
  • "And her hands seemed to turn into thick paws with claws."
  • - [Man In Red] Those are some chunky paws on her daughter.
  • Uh oh!
  • - [Man In Gray] You know what, let's move on,
  • let's not get caught up on the bear hands.
  • You know what I shouldn't have even said that part.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah we can't move past her having paws.
  • - [Man In Gray] I know, I knew you weren't going to like
  • that, I'm just gonna move past.
  • - [Man In Red] She had like kitty cat paws.
  • - [Man In Gray] In September 1973, in a neurological
  • visit with Dr. Luthy, Anneliese described horrific
  • visions of demon faces that were tormenting her,
  • and stated that she felt that the devil was inside her.
  • She also reported smelling something that had the
  • aroma of burnt feces, a stench that many around her
  • reported smelling at later times.
  • - [Man In Red] Why do all these people know
  • what burnt feces smells like?
  • - [Man In Gray] Well I can imagine it just
  • smells like feces with a little smokier.
  • - [Man In Red] Like shit on fire.
  • Fuck, fuck is that a bee?
  • - See what you get?
  • This is what you get.
  • Oh fuck!
  • (laughing)
  • Around this time, Anneliese's mother described
  • these strange occurrences to Dr. Luthy,
  • who according to Mrs. Michel, advised them
  • to consult a Jesuit, a claim that Dr. Luthy
  • would later deny.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah that's a bad doctor.
  • - [Man In Grey] Yeah, if he said that.
  • - [Men In Red] Don't go see a Jesuit.
  • - [Man In Gray] That is fucked up, right.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah.
  • - [Man In Gray] Whether or not that's true,
  • the family definitely searched for a priest,
  • and eventually found a priest named Father Alt.
  • In November 1973, Anneliese met with a Freudian psychiatrist
  • who diagnosed her as a neurotic with possible epilepsy.
  • And another neurologist found she had quote,
  • "epileptic patterns" and took her off Dilantin
  • and put her on Tegretol, a much stronger drug.
  • In July 1975, Anneliese's extremely odd behavior worsened.
  • She barely slept and prayed fervently all night.
  • She ate spiders and flies and even licked her own urine
  • up from the floor.
  • She destroyed rosaries, crucifixes, and holy pictures
  • on the walls.
  • Anneliese also exhibited strength that was quote,
  • "Close to superhuman," throwing her sister, quote,
  • "As if she were a ragdoll."
  • And incredibly was observed effortlessly squeezing
  • an apple with one hand into, quote,
  • "Fragments exploded throughout the room."
  • - [ Man In Red] I bet I could squeeze an apple
  • until it exploded.
  • - [Man In Gray] I bet you a million dollars you couldn't.
  • - Here we go.
  • I mean, this is Germany, this is before preservatives.
  • - You hear that in the distance?
  • It's the excuse train coming.
  • (laughing)
  • - Wait for it.
  • You're full of shit, Ryan.
  • - [Man In Gray] Now you get to see two hands.
  • - She definitely used two hands.
  • - [Man In Gray] It said one hand.
  • (straining)
  • - Okay.
  • But still, that's not like an amazing metric.
  • - [Man In Gray] A priest named Father Rodewyk,
  • a man considered an expert on exorcisms by his peers
  • reported that he was convinced that Anneliese was possessed
  • and after deliberation with the bishop, an exorcism
  • on Anneliese was formally approved.
  • It was to be carried out by a priest named Father Renz.
  • On September 24, 1975, the first exorcism rite was performed
  • Father Renz allowed some of the exorcism sessions
  • to be recorded and 42 audio recordings of the exorcisms
  • were made in total.
  • I'm going to play some clips from those recordings.
  • But fair warning, these recordings are perhaps
  • the most disturbing pieces of audio I've ever heard.
  • (speaking in German)
  • - [Man In Red] You know, she's screaming.
  • She's giving it 110%.
  • - [Man In Gray] I mean, do you think that sounds
  • like it came out of a girl, like?
  • - [Man In Red] Yes, it sounds like a girl
  • doing a funny voice.
  • Uh?
  • - [Man In Gray] Your unrelenting skepticism is exhausting.
  • (laughing)
  • It drains me of all happiness and energy
  • and I hope you know that.
  • (speaking German)
  • - [Man In Red] That's all, we're all here!
  • It's all, I ran out of evil people to think of, uh.
  • The blonde man from Die Hard is also in here.
  • Skeletor from Masters of the Universe.
  • Heath Ledger's Joker!
  • (laughing)
  • Not Jack Nicholson, he was too cartoonish!
  • - [Man In Gray] You had your fun, you ass?
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah, I've had my fun.
  • - [Man In Gray] Okay.
  • Anneliese also named Fleishmann as one of her demons.
  • And provided accurate details of the real Fleischmann
  • who was a priest in the 1500s that was kicked
  • out of the church for bad behavior.
  • These details came as an icy shock to Father Alt
  • who claims Anneliese would have no way of knowing Fleishmann
  • - [Man In Red] That is the only thing that is strange to me.
  • All of the other stuff is just things that a person could do
  • - [Man In Gray] To learn more about demonic possession,
  • we sat down with Father Gary Thomas, a Vatican-approved
  • exorcist who explains to us different signs of possession,
  • all of these, Anneliese had.
  • - One would be an aversion to the sacred, so a person
  • walks in this church and can't look at a crucifix,
  • and their eyes are, you only see the whites of their eyes.
  • Another would be knowledge of hidden things,
  • where the demon will begin to tell you things about yourself
  • that the person themself would have no way of knowing.
  • Another would be possessing a kind of inordinate
  • physical strength they don't normally possess.
  • Then the last sign is a sort of epileptic-like seizures
  • on a person's face and the movement of their arms and legs
  • in a way where they lose complete control.
  • - [Man In Gray] By May, Anneliese became even worse.
  • Banging her head against the wall and biting herself
  • and others to the point where her family had to tie her up
  • to prevent her from hurting herself.
  • But most dangerously, Anneliese refused to eat,
  • she described it as, quote, "Not being permitted to eat."
  • Despite being quite frail, likely weighing under 80 pounds,
  • she exhibited great strength
  • when people tried to restrain her.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah, I Just feel bad for her at this point.
  • - [Man In Gray] Yeah, I do feel bad for her.
  • - [Man In Red] She's definitely tortured.
  • - [Man In Gray] By June, Anneliese's entire face
  • was sunk in, she also refused a doctor visit
  • even though she had a very high fever.
  • On June 30, Anneliese had another exorcism,
  • only saying "Please, absolution."
  • The next morning, her family went to her room
  • and found her dead.
  • Despite seeking medical attention early on,
  • Anneliese refused to submit to medical attention in the end,
  • as she and her family ultimately placed all faith
  • of recovery into the exorcisms.
  • She died of starvation at the age of 23 after 67 exorcisms.
  • Weighing only 68 pounds at the time of her death.
  • - [Man In Red] Do you think that just made her, like,
  • buy into it more?
  • If people started exorcising me on the reg...
  • - [Man In Gray] Exorcising you on the reg?
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah, I might eventually be like,
  • I guess I'm demons!
  • - [Man In Gray] I would agree with that frame of mind,
  • but Anneliese's belief that she was possessed
  • predates all the exorcisms or the priests
  • or any of that stuff.
  • After her death, Anneliese's parents and the two priests
  • were accused of negligent homicide.
  • And the case wen to trial in 1978.
  • What follows are the two sides of that case.
  • First, let's review the position of the defense.
  • The defense presented eyewitness testimony
  • and formally submitted the recordings
  • as evidence of possession, and idea that the court
  • never seemed to take seriously.
  • From a non-religious standpoint, the defense argued
  • that Anneliese was permitted
  • to deny medical treatment, as was her lawful right.
  • For what it's worth, medical treatment might have
  • included tranquilizing her, force-feeding her,
  • and electroshock therapy, quote,
  • "All presumably against her will."
  • Family friend Thea Hein recalled in her testimony
  • that in 1976, a few months before Anneliese's death,
  • Anneliese reportedly quote "Begged on her knees"
  • for Hein to not suggest medical attention to anybody.
  • Also worth noting is the fact that Father Alt
  • actually looked for medical help towards the end.
  • And on May 30, his friend Dr. Richard Roth
  • visited Anneliese out of what he claims was
  • scientific curiosity, and not as a physician.
  • - [Man In Red] He technically was just like,
  • "Look, I'm not here as a doctor,
  • "I just wanna see some of this crazy shit."
  • - [Man In Gray] I know, who fucking says that?
  • - [Man In Red] "I want to see this girl eat some spiders!"
  • - [Man In Gray] That's like something you say when
  • you go to the zoo, not when you go see
  • someone that's tied up.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah, that is a bad man right there.
  • - [Man In Gray] In his visit, Dr. Roth
  • claims Anneliese had no external injuries,
  • although Father Renz noticed she had several bruises,
  • a swollen cheek, and black eyes.
  • An interesting contradiction, to say the least.
  • Dr. Roth also denied saying quote, "There are no injections
  • "against the devil."
  • End quote.
  • - Shady.
  • - Shady as fuck, yeah.
  • Curiously, in spite of all the supposed
  • epileptic attacks, an autopsy revealed
  • Anneliese had a healthy brain with no damage
  • that could have caused epileptic seizures.
  • Quote, "Not even on a microscopic level."
  • What say you to that?
  • - [Man In Red] I mean, you know, oh look I'm not a
  • what's a brain scientist?
  • What do you call those?
  • - [Man in Gray] A neurologist?
  • - [Man in Red] Yeah, there we go, sorry it's been a long day
  • I'm not a neurologist, I don't know what the...
  • - [Man In Gray] It's funny that you said that
  • because the neurologist said the exact same thing.
  • - [Man In Red] He said "I'm not a neurologist?"
  • - [Man In Gray] Probably, it sounds like it.
  • He might has well have.
  • Yeah fuck, I don't know, go visit a Jesuit.
  • - [Man In Red] Yeah - [Man In Gray] Jesus Christ.
  • - [Man In Red] Just get your shit stink out of my office.
  • - [Man In Gray] And even more curious was the court's
  • seeming nonconsideration of facts such as her pupils
  • being unusually dilated, and the absence of ulcers
  • on her body, which are frequently found on victims
  • of starvation.
  • - [Man In Red] Okay, alright.
  • - [Man In Gray] Any quotes on that?
  • - [Man In Red] I mean, you know.
  • - [Man In Gray] This is great, the tables have turned
  • in my opinion.
  • Now let's review the position of the prosecution.
  • The prosecution argued that Anneliese had epilepsy
  • and psychosis and that the parents and two priests
  • were liable for failing to act to save her life.
  • The defense tore down notions of possession,
  • they questioned the credibility of Father Alt,
  • with the conclusion from two experts that Father Alt
  • exhibited signs of schizophrenia.
  • - [Man In Red] Whoa whoa whoa!
  • - [Man In Gray] Yeah, that's weird.
  • - [Man In Red] That's weird.
  • - [Man In Gray] He wasn't the guy that was doing
  • the exorcisms, but he was the guy that initially
  • helped Annaliese in the beginning.
  • The prosecution also argued that the medications
  • given successfully suppressed the epilepsy-like seizures.
  • And argued that that suppression morphed into, quote,
  • "A delusional psychosis associated with epilepsy."
  • They argued that Anneliese's psychosis was exacerbated
  • by the exorcisms which only played into her fantasy.
  • To piggyback on that, Anneliese often went through phases
  • between exorcisms where she behaved normally.
  • Even though she would behave a possessed person
  • during exorcisms, it's unclear if the epilepsy-like
  • seizures were stopped by medication or if they
  • actually stopped on their own.
  • But Anneliese's psychotic visions predate the alleged
  • medical suppression.
  • - [Man In Red] Weird, sorry sorry.
  • - [Man In Gray] Weird, basically they're saying that
  • the psychosis was brought on by the suppression
  • of the drugs, but the psychosis predates the drugs.
  • Exactly.
  • In the end, the court ruled in favor of the prosecution.
  • Sentencing the four defendants to six months in prison,
  • with suspension for three years, and payment
  • for all court costs.
  • The court ruled that Anneliese was unable to make
  • decisions for herself and should have been forced
  • to submit to medical care.
  • Professor Felicitas D. Goodman, an author of a book
  • on the case notes the theories that Anneliese was epileptic
  • were presented as, quote, "A statement of undisputable
  • fact, not conjecture, as in fact, they had been."
  • How do you tell the difference between possession
  • and mental health?
  • - Sometimes both are going along side by side.
  • You have to determine what is the root cause
  • of the suffering of this individual.
  • You start out with a discernment.
  • And the discernment involves myself
  • and a whole team of people.
  • I have a medical doctor, a clinical psychologist
  • and a psychiatrist, in fact a formal exorcism
  • only happens as the last resort.
  • - Given the evidence that we've seen,
  • in all the strange occurrences, and the voices,
  • I think there's sufficient evidence to not conclusively
  • rule out that she was possessed, beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • - Sure.
  • - So you acknowledge?
  • - I acknowledge there's a lot of factors in this case.
  • I personally think there's something going on
  • with mental health, and I also think that
  • 67 exorcisms probably don't leave your mind in a good spot.
  • - I could see both sides.
  • I can see how it would be mental health,
  • I can see how it would be possession,
  • I lean towards possession.
  • That being said, she should have gone to the hospital.
  • - Yeah, get that girl to a hospital.
  • - She's possessed or not, fucking force her
  • to go to a hospital and let the doctors be like
  • "Holy shit, the shit's floating around."
  • - PSA, if your kid's eating spiders.
  • - Don't take them to an exorcist.
  • Or take them to an exorcist but do it at the hospital.
  • - No, don't take them to, take them straight to the hospital
  • - You can do both, that's what I'm saying, you can do both.
  • You can have it happen at the hospital.
  • - Okay fine, yeah.
  • - [Man In Gray] Regardless of the court ruling,
  • many have debated what actually led to Anneliese's death.
  • Was it a case of mental illness, possibly epilepsy,
  • or was this a legitimate case of demonic possession?
  • Whatever the real reason may be, the case of Anneliese
  • Michel is a tragedy and will always remain unsolved.
  • (eerie music)
  • - Looks like we're done here.
  • - No we're not, I'm going to crush this.
  • I'm gonna get some juice out of this thing.
  • - I don't know what's making me happier, the fact that
  • you can't get it, or the struggle in your face
  • as you see your case slipping through your fingers.
  • - This is not my case slipping through my fingers.
  • - Like grains of sand, just falling.
  • (eerie music)

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One of the most chilling cases of demonic possession of all time.

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