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The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel [Paperback]

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Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2005
Publisher   Resource Publications (OR)
ISBN  1597524328  
EAN  9781597524322  

Availability  0 units.

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The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel by Felicitas D. Goodman

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More About Felicitas D. Goodman

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Felicitas D. Goodman taught linguistics and anthropology at Denison University until her retirement, when she became Director of the Cuyamungue Institute. She is author of numerous articles and has seven books to her credit, most recently Ecstasy, Ritual, and Alternate Reality: Religion in a Pluralistic World, and Where the Spirits Ride the Wind: Spirit Journeys and Ecstatic Experiences.

Felicitas D. Goodman has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Folklore Today

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Interesting Book; Unconvincing Possession  Sep 17, 2008
Let me first say that I am a devout Roman Catholic, who prays the Rosary, but does not currently go to Church. I have self studied Hebrew and Latin, having plied and worked on translating some of the New and Old Testaments. In addition, I have read many, many accounts of Christian Fathers, ranging from Eusebius to Augustine to Pope Benedict III. I would characterize myself as a Thomist, in that I am essentially in whole agreement with the Philosophical Structure of the World as described in the Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas. I accept a world of immaterial beings containing both numerous Angels and Demons, created by God, all serving various purposes, with an ultimate evil immaterial Being designated Lucifer, Satan, Azazel, or whatever name seems to please the believer. I have also read the lives of numerous Christian Mystics, and believe that many are `legit' and have either engaged in or participated in somewhat miraculous events during the course of human history.

I purchased this book because I originally had received the DVD `The Exorcism of Emily Rose' as a birthday gift. I enjoyed the movie, and researched enough to learn that the Anneliese Michel case was the inspiration for this movie. After doing some research on this, it appeared that this particular book, albeit somewhat dated [1981?] appeared to be a fairly thorough and objective account of the events leading up to Anneliese' death. I hoped that the book might perhaps shed some light on the inspiration for the movie, and would hopefully produce some more tangible evidence to support some of the suggestions [particularly the encounter between `Emily' and the `Virgin Mary'] or visions as depicted on the silver screen.

As a final preface, let me advise the reader that I am a 20 attorney, who has participated in criminal defense for most of that period almost exclusively, and have done over 100 jury trials from start to finish. Thus, in part, I read the book with the hopes that some of the trial aspects, which take up the majority of the movie, would be better documented in the book.

I read the book in about four days and wish to first note that the author treats all the persons involved with the proper respect due them. My impressions however left me with a firm conviction that Anneliese Michel was probably not possessed by any demons whatsoever. Please understand that I have no doubt that during the course of human history there have been some individuals with the misfortune of being `possessed' by demon[s] or malevolent spirits of some nature. Unfortunately, the evidence as contained in this book would, in my opinion, not give sufficient basis for either religious or legal proof of a genuine possession.

The author does try to present the evidence in the most favorable light to Anneliese, her family, her priests, and even her doctors. Unfortunately, much of this evidence simply does not pass objective muster. One particular problem is that, although Anneliese kept a fairly detailed record of her illness over a period of years, much of her writings were deleted by her priest, which, unfortunately, would suggest that these statements and musings were not likely in support of the contention for possession. In addition, it appears that the author had to surmise a number of incidents from which there is no record whatsoever.

The author does at the end present a credible alternate explanation for Anneliese' condition, based on a state known as RASC, or Religious Altered State of Consciousness. Unfortunately, the book copy I possess has no updates after 1983 and therefore I have no idea if or whether any of this theorizing is currently in vogue some 25 years later. Nonetheless, it does appear that the `experts' in this case did a poor job of analyzing the evidence, the medications involved, as well as the causative affects of the various mixture of all these factors in determining whether or not the accused were `negligent' in their treatment of Anneliese.

I wish to point out that it is my firm conviction that Anneliese, as well as those around her, were completely convinced of her `demonic possession', and that it is almost a certainty that it was literally true for Anneliese in her own mind. This unfortunately does not support the underlying contention of `possession'. The `demons' involved, their very vague and somewhat inconsistent statements, the fact that they were unintelligible and certainly produced little or no information that would appear `supernatural', suggests that this was not a `possession' in the literal sense. Even so, we have so little understanding of human prescience, intuition, and subconscious communications that there can never be certainty in this regard. However, the Movie certainly takes liberties to produce `convincing' evidence of possession which is simply non-existent in the factual case from which the inspiration was derived. In this sense, I think that the movie certainly produces more convincing `proof' than was ever present in the actual events. I was hoping that the book, given that the exorcisms lasted for years, might perhaps give the basis for the `truths' as proposed by the movie but in an extended form from the film. Sadly, the book does not [because I believe the evidence cannot] support the rather powerful faith based convictions as presented in the movie.

In any event, the book reads well, is presented with the respect and decency this poor family and the poor priests involved deserved. I agree with the author that the conclusions of the Court appear arbitrary, and I unfortunately have to fault defense counsel for not `ripping these experts apart'. Under these circumstances, I would have treated the defense experts as `hostile witnesses' and cross-examined them to show the deficiencies in their own report preparations, and conclusions.

I hope this review helps a prospective purchaser.

A Plain Fact Seen From Her Story!  Nov 28, 2007
The movie "The Possession of Emily Rose" spoofed an interest in this young girl to see if in-deed, she existed. Fact is, she did. For her name was Anneliese Michel. And although the lure to over dramatize for the sake of entertainment proved correct in many parts of the film. Yet still, the movie came close to what actually happened to this poor simple girl caught in the grip of demonic possession.

What saddened me the most was not that her state of being was so drastic as it was. But that clearly, it didn't have to be had the church stood on the ultimate power of Jesus Christ, who came to set the captives free.

Within this sad tail one can clearly see the churchs attempt to help Anneliese, but what appalled me the most was the fact that they called on the power of our Lords mother instead. Doing so had deluded Christ's power to work against the evil. And what many do not care to hear as truth, is the fact that the Lords own mother needed a savior too. And via her Son, Jesus, Mary was saved when her Son, laid down His life for her that gray day on Calvary. Then in Christ's reserrection on the third day, there now is no other name or power greater than that of Jesus Christ.

This truth had proved itself by the death of this poor girl. For Christ's power was not used to break down the evil forces that ended up taking her life. A sad ending of a beautiful life that did not have to end at all had Jesus Christ, in the power He died to give was used in her defense. And I believe that God allowed this to happen to show many who care to see that the only power we have against evil today is in the name and power of - Jesus Christ.

Now may her story move many to read for themselves the power of Jesus Christ that every believer has in Him. You learn about it from God's Word -the Bible, starting in the New Testament. And I encourage everyone to find out for themselves this truth. Then may many thereafter, use it to keep the forces of darkness from killing, stealing, or destroying more lives like Annelies Michel around our fallen world.
Hard to believe, but nonfiction nonetheless.  Nov 1, 2007
Felicitas D. Goodman, The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel (Doubleday, 1981)

Two years ago (as I write this), a little, not-much-promoted horror film called The Exorcism of Emily Rose was released in America. It was passed over by most Americans, lasting just nine weeks in the cinema. It has, however, become a much-loved cult film since its DVD release, which has sparked new interest in the book from which it was adapted, Felicitas Goodman's The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel. (It should be noted that another recent film, Hans-Christian Schmid's 2006 release Requiem, is also based on the story, and is supposedly a more faithful adaptation.)

While the book is nonfiction, Goodman does note right at the outset that she has recreated certain scenes by extrapolating from the trial evidence, since there are some things we'll never know-- after all, the only person who could tell us about them died in 1976. The general outline, in case you're one of those who missed the movies and have never heard of the case: in the late 1960s, Anneliese Michel began having experiences that medical doctors diagnosed as epilepsy. Neither prescription drugs nor psychoanalysis helped Anneliese, and after what seems to have been a joking comment from a therapist, the family consulted a Jesuit priest, who stayed in contact with the family for a time to assess the situation with Anneliese. He eventually became convinced that the forces she was dealing with were, in fact, demonic, but that she was, at the time, only being assaulted ("molested") by them. Once this became a case of possession, the Catholic church took action, and Anneliese Michel went through a horrific, protracted series of exorcisms that ended (this is not a spoiler, as most of this is actually setup) in her death. While the case was kept secret as it was going on, a doctor who was brought in to make out a death certificate refused to cite natural causes, and the real meat of the book begins: the trial of Anneliese's parents and the two priests who conducted the exorcism. Goodman had what seems almost unprecedented access to court documents, and almost all parties involved seem to have been quite open with her about both Anneliese's condition and the ensuing trial. What will surprise you, I think, is where Goodman, in retrospect, places the final blame for the events that occurred here. (It may surprise you, but given some more recent and highly-publicized American court cases, you may find that surprise fading all too quickly.)

Goodman is, quite obviously from page one, entirely convinced that Anneliese Michel was, in fact, possessed by demons. A book review is not the place to go into the truth or falsehood of that, but it did seem to me that there were more logical explanations for everything that went on; they just weren't put forth by the prosecution in the trial. (It seems neither side thought to ask the right questions, focusing on Anneliese's physical symptoms rather than, as Goodman quite rightly points out, the cultural aspects of the case, which hang over the book like a funereal pall.) Was she, in fact, possessed by demons? I don't know. Neither do you. (If you'd like quite a jolt, search her name on YouTube. Pieces of the tapes made by Father Alt and reviewed by Goodman for the book, are up with photo montages of Michel's deteriorating physical state as the exorcisms progressed. It's hard to debunk the idea of possession while you're experiencing this...) But it makes for a good story nonetheless, and Goodman does relate it quite well. Rue crime books, in my recent experience, have been pretty badly-written affairs, often rushed to press before the ink is dry on court pronouncements so book companies can capitalize on Court TV viewers. This is not one of those books. Goodman's research was obviously extensive, and her presence at the places where key scenes of the book take place is obvious from her descriptions. She's been there, she's seen this stuff, and she can write about it without resorting to the deliriously purple prose so many true crime books revert to when describing, say, the scene where a body was found. That alone makes this one worth reading for the true-crime fan. For everyone else, it's an interesting meditation on the existence (or lack of same) of demonic possession-- and a meditation on what was then an unheard-of idea of where the blame may have lied for this case that was at least two decades ahead of its time. *** ½
One-Sided Telling of a Fascinating Tale  Sep 24, 2007
Anneliese Michel's story is gripping and macabre, and therefore deserves three stars, but Goodman's telling of it requires you set aside expectations for an objective presentation of Anneliese Michel's tragic story. The reader is told in the Introduction: "The point of view of the narrative is, as much as possible, that of the participants, who shared a set of often unspoken assumptions about the world ... [that] were not shared by others ... in the same society." Read: demons exist, can possess people, and exorcisms and the Virgin Mary's intervention are required to expel them.

Throughout her book Goodman has it in for scientific "assumptions" that would explain Michel's "possession." She does her best to dismiss the notion that psychiatry could explain how a young woman would endure visions of demons, writhe in a horrible state until her death, and physically lash at all around her and literally bite the walls and into her own flesh.

Because of the circumstances of the young woman's death, the State prosecuted two priests and Michel's mother and father for negligent homicide. In her summation of the court case, Goodman is seemingly fastidious in her analysis of the prosecution's case, but shows her hand with when she thinks she sees specious or contradictory testimony. She uses words like "erroneous statement", "patently incorrect," "negligence", and "glaring fault." Why are we never provided anything like a balanced examination of the family's and priest's contentions? Instead, in the 23-page chapter on the trial, Father Alt, one of the two exorcists, is quoted eleven times in blocks several sentences long from interviews held years after the trial. Prosecution witnesses or third parties who might be skeptical of the defense's contentions are quoted only to be dismissed. Goodman made no follow-up interviews with anyone skeptical of the family's and priest's case.

The final chapters feature Goodman's presentations of such topics as religious altered state of consciousness (RASC), linguistic analysis of voices on the 40 exorcism tapes, and the anthropology of demonic possession. These provide a tedious conceptual framework to explain Michel's "possession."

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in tales of exorcism, but spare yourself the $30+ to get this out-of-print book. Borrow it from the library unless you need flimsy fodder on your bookshelf that there is evidence of Satan's capacity to possess even the most pious of God's children -- or that RASC can explain what a diagnosis of dissociative disorder cannot. Instead, buy a book like Malcolm McGrath's Demons of the Modern World.
Very interesting and thought provoking.  Apr 21, 2007
I initially started searching for this book after seeing the movie THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (which got it's inspiration from this book and real life event). This book is amazing and just like the movie it does present both sides of the story (religious and scientific) with a little more emphasis on the religious side.

I just finished reading the book tonight and I wanted to write a review to let other readers know that if they are interested in finding out more about Anneliese Michel and her amazing experience you have to read this book. It give you a more indepth look at her life and the specific events that happened to her before, during and after the exorcism. I must say that before I even cracked the cover of the book I was convinced that Anneliese was possessed by demons. And the first half of the book reinforced my beliefs. But in the middle I found one occurance of the author (Felicitas D. Goodman) contradicting herself in a very crucial way that made me think... maybe Anneliese wasn't possessed? And from that point on I was getting a little skeptical.

The book provides VERY strong evidence that she was possessed by demons, but also strong evidence that she was (for the lack of better words) crazy. This is one book that you will have to pick up for yourself and read if you are even remotely interested in the life of this girl. And for those of you who have seen the movie you will see the similarities between the book and the movie and where the movie draws directly from the actual events in the book.

This book is a little hard to follow in the beginning because it jumps back and forth in the timeline of her life but don't let that discourage you... it IS an excellent read and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in demonic possession or a fan of the movie.

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