Disturbing Photos Show Real Girl Who Inspired ‘Exorcism Of Emily Rose’

If you’ve watched and been chilled by “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” you may be surprised to know that the story was based on a real-life woman who died at just 23. Anneliese Michel underwent an exorcism 67 different times in order to rid her body of so-called demons that possessed it.

Michel’s childhood was ordinary enough. She was raised in Germany within a strict Catholic family. However, just after she turned 16, she started exhibiting troubling behaviors. She would wet the bed and go into what appeared to be a trance at random times.

While doctors initially couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, that would soon change. She contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized. After she was released, she began to hear voices in her head that wouldn’t stop, followed by epileptic seizures that no amount of medicine could stop.

Anneliese Michel was subjected to exorcism ceremonies 67 times

By 1973, when she was only 21, Michel began seeing “devil faces” when she hallucinated, and she became convinced she was possessed. She would eat spiders, rip all of her clothes off of her body, and lick urine off the floor. Clergymen believed that performing an exorcism on Anneliese Michel was the only way forward.

A further 66 exorcisms would be performed on Michel over the next two years. She was said to be chaiend up throughout these procedures, which often lasted as long as four hours. An autopsy discovered broken teeth and knees as well as black eyes and other bruising. She weighed only 68 pounds when she died in 1978 of malnutrition and starvation. She was only 23 years old.

Michel’s mother, Anna, told The Telegraph in 2005: “Anneliese was a kind, loving, sweet and obedient girl. But when she was possessed, it was something unnatural, something that you can’t explain.”

Anneliese Michel’s parents may have thought they were doing her a favor with the exorcisms. However, they were still charged with negligent homicide after she died, along with the priests involved. Prosecutors believe if she’d received proper care, she would still be alive. Many believe that Michel suffered from mental illness that required specialist treatment, not demonic possession.

Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.