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Anneliese Michel (21 September 1952 – 1 July 1976) was a German woman who underwent Catholic exorcism rites in 1975 and died the next year, due to lack of medical care. Later investigation determined that she was malnourished and dehydrated; her parents and the priests responsible were charged with negligent homicide. The case attracted media and public attention because of the Catholic Church's unusual decision to employ the 400-year-old ritual of exorcism, something that had been rarely seen since the 18th Century. The film The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on her story.
When Michel was sixteen, she experienced an epileptic seizure and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. She was diagnosed as depressed and treated at a psychiatric hospital. By the time she was twenty, she had become intolerant of various religious objects, and began to hear voices. Her condition worsened, despite medication, and she became suicidal. Michel and her family became convinced she was possessed by demons, and appealed to a Catholic priest for an exorcism. While rejected at first, after much hesitation, two priests got permission from the local bishop in 1975, and performed exorcism rites on her for 10 months, in secret (as ordered by the bishop). After her death, Michel's parents and the two priests were found guilty of negligent homicide, and were sentenced to six months in jail (reduced to three years of probation), and a fine. The case has been cited as an example of a misidentified mental disorder, negligence, abuse and religious hysteria.
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