Anneliese Michel (21 September 1952 – 1 July 1976) was a German Catholic woman who underwent an exorcism and died in the same year because of stopping medical and psychiatric intervention; the investigation and court case which followed attracted public attention and the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on her.
When Michel was sixteen, she had her first epileptic attack and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. She was soon in depression and was treated at a psychiatric hospital. By 1973, she became intolerant of various religious objects and began to hear voices. Her condition worsened despite taking various medications and she became suicidal. Michel and her family, was soon convinced she was possessed and appealed to a Catholic priest for an exorcism, which was rejected at first. In 1975, after much hesitation, two priests got permission from the local bishop and performed exorcism rites on her secretively. She died on 1 July, an investigation revealed that she was malnourished and dehydrated; her parents and the priests responsible were charged with negligence. It was stated that her death was due to the strain of the rites and the investigation concluded that she could have been saved if medical help was given to her even a day before. This case attracted media and public attention since the Catholic church allowed such an old rite to be performed. After a guilty verdict, the defendants were sentenced to six months in jail but given three years of probation and a fine. The case has been labelled as a misidentification of a mental illness, negligence, abuse and religious hysteria.