Anneliese’s supposed symptoms of possession began in 1968. Anneliese was a 16-year-old high school student. The symptoms were convulsions and they were eventually diagnosed as epilepsy by a neurologist. Anneliese Michel took medicine for her condition and continued her life to the best of her ability. She finished high school and went on to college, where she studied to become a teacher. Apparently, the medicine was not helping her much. Her problems only got worse.
Over time, Anneliese Michel complained of seeing disturbing visions while saying her prayers. Later, evil voices giving her commands followed. Finally, Anneliese began showing an aversion to religious iconography. An older woman, a friend of the Michel family, noticed this while on a pilgrimage with Anneliese. She said that Anneliese smelled “hellishly bad” and took her to see some priests. Many of them said Anneliese needed a doctor. However, one eventually said Anneliese needed an exorcism and an exorcism was eventually granted.
It is certain that medicine was not saving Anneliese Michel from whatever tormented her, but there is no questioning that things got worse for her when she gave herself over to exorcism. She allegedly urinated and defecated on the floor frequently, also licking up her own urine. She ate insects, growled at religious icons and sat under her kitchen table barking for two days. Surely, her family was afraid of her, but a medical professional probably would not have left her under the table for two days or let her starve to death, which is eventually what she did.
Anneliese Michel died of dehydration and malnutrition on July 1, 1976. The 23-year-old woman weighed 68 pounds at the time of her death. Josef Michel (her father), Anna Michel and the two exorcists were eventually charged with negligent homicide. During the trial, evidence of the possession worked both for and against the defense. Forty-two of the exorcisms were audio-recorded and there were various pictures of a seriously ill-looking, bruised and sore-covered Anneliese. Anneliese is horrifying in these tapes which works for the defense that she was possessed, but is certainly not conclusive. If nothing else, the tapes made it clear that Anneliese was seriously ill and no one was making her eat. It is certain that possessed or not, Anneliese should have been cared for better.
There is no way to prove or disprove supernatural occurrences, such as exorcisms. That makes it difficult to know what really happened to Ms. Michel. However, it is possible to prove that there is some evidence that epileptics are at an increased risk of displaying symptoms of schizophrenia and it is has been posited that Michel suffered from dissociative personality disorder and schizophrenia. That, combined with her religious background, could easily account for the events leading to her death.