Monday, October 27, 2008

Psychiatric treatment and exorcism



A stay at an unnamed psychiatric hospital did not improve Anneliese's health. Moreover, she began to suffer from depression. Having centered her life around devout Catholic faith, Anneliese began to attribute her condition to demonic possession. She grew increasingly frustrated with medical intervention as it did not improve her condition. Long-term medical treatment proved unsuccessful; her condition, including her depression, worsened with time. Anneliese became intolerant of sacred places and objects, such as the crucifix, which she attributed to her own demonic possession. Throughout the course of the religious rites Anneliese underwent, she took powerful psychotropic drugs prescribed to her by her doctors.

Anneliese was then transferred to a small asylum in Minneapolis, Minnesota that was later transformed into a residence hall at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. It is today known as Pioneer Hall. In 1968 she was transferred back to Europe. June 1970 Anneliese suffered a third seizure at the psychiatric hospital she had been staying in and was prescribed her first anticonvulsant. The name of this drug is not known and it did not bring about any immediate alleviation of Anneliese's symptoms; she also continued to talk of what she called "devil faces" seen by her during various times of the day. Anneliese became convinced that conventional medicine was of no help as it did not make her feel better in the least. Growing increasingly adamant that her illness was of a spiritual kind, she appealed to the Church to perform an exorcism on her. Although she was fervent about the potential help that an exorcism could offer her, Anneliese was denied by the Church. The same month she was prescribed another drug, Aolept (pericyazine), which is a phenothiazine with general properties similar to those of chlorpromazine: pericyazine is used in the treatment of various psychoses including schizophrenia and disturbed behaviour.

In November 1973 Anneliese started her treatment with Tegretol (carbamazepine), which is an antiepileptic drug. Anneliese took this medicine frequently, until shortly before her death, when she was unable to swallow anything.

On July 1, 1976 Anneliese Michel died in her sleep. According to Physicians' Desk Reference, taking carbamazepine may cause epileptic obnubilation ( a lowered level of consciousness with loss of ability to respond properly to external stimuli), along with fever and hypoxemia (lack of oxygen in blood). Anneliese had all these symptoms, which gave rise to the theory that the cause of death was suffocation. However, the autopsy report stated that her death was caused my malnutrition and dehydration that resulted from almost a year of semi-stravation during the rites of exorcism.



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