Was Anneliese Michel Really Possessed?

Was Anneliese Michel Really Possessed?

In this article we will be taking a look at the tragic life of Anneliese Michel – cut short at the young far-too-young age of 23.

Was Anneliese Michel really possessed or were her parents blinded by religious explanations for her illness?


Anneliese Michel was brought into the world as a normal, healthy, baby girl on September the 21st, 1952. She grew up in a household with her parents and three siblings (three sisters).

Unfortunately, the Michel family were well known for being a highly religious unit – some would even say ‘intensely’ religious!

Her parents believed that there was no simple atonement for sin and the reformations of Vatican II were nothing more than a monstrosity – something to be completely ignored.

The First Signs

Anneliese experienced her first seizure at some point in 1969 – it was so severe that she was taken straight into hospital.

The doctors checked her over and informed the family that their daughter suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy. They also warned her parents that this condition could well cause severe bouts of mood swings, loss of awareness and hallucinations.

A few weeks later, Anneliese was put under the care of a psychiatric hospital…that did little to prevent the mad seizures that followed.

Anneliese experienced her first seizure at some point in 1969

It was during her time at the psychiatric ward that Anneliese first experienced demonic hallucinations. She would complain about demonic figures appearing in front of her giving her the same message on repeat – she was apparently dammed.

She turned to her Catholic religion to save herself…but this only seemed to intensify the visions.

Whenever she would kneel to pray, the demonic figures would appear and tell her that it was no use – she was going to “stew in hell”.

Understandably petrified, she turned to her doctors for help. They simply put her on a course of extreme anti-psychotic drugs.

Nothing Seemed to Work…

Anneliese went through various anti-psychotic medications for over five years…but nothing seemed to work for her.

Her family decided that modern medicine was not the answer, so they turned to Pastor Ernst Alt at their church. The Pastor witnessed her strange convulsions and listened to everything she had to say about the demonic ‘visitors’ she was seeing.

Rite of Exorcism

During one session he even witnessed her urinate on the floor then bend down and drink it – like a dog would lap up a bowl of milk or water.

He came to the conclusion that Anneliese was not suffering from a medical condition…he believed she was possessed by demons.


Pastor Alt contacted his superior, Bishop Josef Stangl, and approached him with the ‘evidence’ he had gathered. Eventually Stangl agreed to an exorcism as long as Father Arnold Renz could help with the process.

On September the 25th, 1975, Pastor Alt and Renz performed the first of 67 sessions.

These sessions would usually take place twice a week. During the process Anneliese would be chained to her bed, and the men of god would perform the Rite of Exorcism.

They also decided to record the audio for each and every exorcism attempt…

For a time, the religious sessions seemed to help Annelise. She even felt well enough to return to her education at he Pedagogic Academy in Wurzburg and the local church.

Unfortunately, these good feelings did not last…


By the spring of 1976, poor Annelise seemed to have been completely taken over by whatever was haunting her. She would bite and scratch at family members whenever she could, when she could not get at them…she would attack herself.

She stopped eating – at first she said the demons would not allow it…but eventually she made it clear that it was her decision.

When she ‘came around’ she always had the same message – that she was willing to die in order to atone for the:

“wayward youth of the day and the apostate priests of the modern church”

She eventually dropped below 100 pounds in weight, but the priests continued with the intense rites.

On the morning of July the 1st, Anneliese Michel died of malnutrition and dehydration.

The Review

A commission made up of German bishops and theologians was finally put together in 1984 in an attempt to properly review the Anneliese Michel exorcism case.

They finally came to the conclusion that the church was wrong and they should have done a lot more to help the mentally unstable girl. The review pointed out that numerous lines in the Rite of Exorcism were able to feed into the delusions of a mentally ill patient. They even went as far as asking the Vatican to change these lines – to avoid similar tragedies…

The plea fell on deaf ears – the Rite of Exorcism remains unchanged.

Now it’s over to you – what do you think about this case?

Was Anneliese Michel really possessed?

Or, was she simply a mentally ill girl…that ended up with the wrong kind of help?

Please leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.