I was terrified after watching the movie ” Exorcism of Emily Rose”. One of the chilling horror movies. Surfing through the internet and youtube vidoes, I found out that it was based on a true story that happened in Germany. It also raised a big debate between the ritual healing and world of medicine. Even I was struck by the fact that everything that happened to her had a medical explanation and medical explanations are not just superstitions but are evidence based.
Before reading this article , you should know what actually was the story of Anneliese Michel, a german girl who was exposed to ugly exorcism that led to her dead. The priest and parents were punished by the jury with imprisonment but the audio tapes and photos of exorcism even confused the court. The possible demonic possession can’t still be ruled out. Many movies were later released based on her story ” Exorcism of Emily Rose” ” Exorcism of Isabella” etc. Many questions are still floating around the internet. Did she have a Schiziphrenia , Dissociative identity Disorder ie was she mentally ill? Did the blind superstition led to her death? Was she actually possessed? Could she have improved if she had got medical care? Was exorcism a injustice to her? Is her death a murder, an abuse?
The Medical Explanation-
Why Anneliese michel ( Emily rose ) was mentally ill ?
1. Anneliese’s older sister died at the age of 8. Strangely, Anneliese reportedly felt like she needed to repent for her mother’s sin. Her older sister was illegimate daughter to her mother and her mother always had a guilt about her. She died at age of 8 years.
This event had made a deep trauma on her. Anneliese was harboring the guilt for her death. Trauma causes a huge mental influence. She supposedly spent much of her time doing penance for her mother. She was religiously inclined and the names of demons, devils and the religious chapters were not new to her. Guilt and trauma in childhood can be an inciting event to mental illness.
2. At 16 years, anneliese stared having seizures, she was diagnosed to have epilepsy by the neurologist. Researches have shown a strong link between Epilepsy and schizophrenia.
3. With time, her seizures were hard to control by medications. Anneliese Michel started complaining of seeing disturbing visions while saying her prayers. Later, evil voices giving her commands followed.
These are medically explainable. Schizophrenic patients have Auditory and visual hallucinations. They slowly lose insight. Many incidents of ghost sightings have been linked to hallucinations. Brain is a strange thing and stranger when its ill. Her visual hallucinations during prayers are typical to schizophrenia and voices that give command is one of the characteristic feature of the disease.
Auditory hallucinations in Schizophrenia–
- Voices giving command- “kill him, beat him”
- Running commentary on actions- ” Now you are lying on bed, now you are closing your eyes, you are not able to sleep so you turn right”
- Third person auditory hallucinations- two people discussing- usually plotting a conspiracy against the patient herself.
Patients even complain of controlled volition where they believe what they are doing is not them but someone else using them.
4. During the exorcism, Anneliese Michel herself cried out that Judas, Nero, Hitler, Cain, Lucifer and others were inside of her. Audiotapes have also proved her sayings.
Fact that Hitler, Nero, Judas weren’t demon nor devil but the social impact it so strong that they have become icons of bad deeds so claimed devil. The impact of what she has heard and learnt from society in her childhood had made an impact on her. The scenario where a person takes up roles or other persons identity is called ” Dissociative Identity Disorder” . You must have watched Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Hide and Seek, Shutter Island etc. Mutiple personality disorder is disease where a person assumed identity of different people.
5. Anneliese stopped eating altogether for some time before she died. She believed it would lessen the evil’s control over her. And the exorcism and torture on her made a grave appearance that terrified the world. Any person who is not given food and water, and is beaten would look like that. She is said to lick her urine and ate flies. She was dehydrated and starved in the process of exorcism. It was a case of shameful abuse and torture on an ill patient.
Finally she died of severe malnutrition and dehydration. The case was filed against her parents for negligent homicide and the priest who performed exorcism on her. It is said that they were imprisoned for 6 months. Did that justify the amount of grave torture that was given to her in the name of Exorcism?