The unnerving tale behind ‘The Exorcist’
Have you ever wondered how a human mind could invent something as twisted as The Exorcist? As it turns out, the tale isn’t entirely fictional. In fact, it’s based on the horrifying real-life demonic possession of a quiet fourteen-year-old boy, known by the pseudonym “Robbie Mannheim.”
Robbie Mannheim’s descent into evil
Robbie Mannheim was born into a devout German Lutheran family in 1935. In 1984, 13-year-old Mannheim began to experiment with his aunt’s Ouija board. Since Mannheim was soft-spoken and awkward, his aunt was his dearest companion. When she died a year later, he was devastated. Mannheim saw only one way to stay connected to his favorite family member: through the Ouija board.
Mannheim began to use the occult object to connect to his beloved auntie. Soon, the Mannheim family began to experience strange shifts in their household. At first, they began to hear peculiar scraping and stomping noises. Still, the sourceless noise was only the start of the madness. Soon enough, otherworldly activity emerged.
Whatever evil spirit was present in their home began to smash, destroy, and break their treasured possessions. Additionally, the youngest Mannheim started to connect with the malicious spirit. In addition to developing welts and markings on his skin, his personality did a one-eighty.
Making sense of his behavior
The once-gentle Robbie became aggressive and unkind. At times, Mannheim would spew profanities and Latin at his bewildered family members. One night, his mother heard a noise, went to check on Mannheim, and discovered his bed rattling with him resting in the middle.
His parents feared for the worst. They decided to turn to the one force they always put full faith in—the church. His family enlisted the support of Lutheran Reverand Luther Miles Schulze. When he went to examine the troubled boy, he was greeted with moving furniture, noisy walls, and terrifying activity. Exhausted and afraid, Schulze decided to turn to a stronger avenue for an exorcism: the Catholic Church.
Mannheim would spew profanities and Latin at his bewildered family members
A priest called Edward Hughes showed interest in observing Mannheim. Like Schulze, he was disturbed by the boy’s evil voice and empty glare. Hughes feared that there were numerous evil spirits within Mannheim, and demanded that an exorcism be performed ASAP. To control the ritual’s environment, they relocated him to Georgetown University Hospital.
A series of terrifying exorcisms
Upon arrival, Hughes’ had to restrain Mannheim, who became enraged. For three, unbearable days, Hughes did his best to exorcise the restless demons from Mannheim’s body. All the while, Mannheim cursed, spit, cried, thrashed, and foamed at the mouth. At one point, he broke free and slashed Hughes with a sharp bedspring.
Ultimately, the exorcism didn’t work. So, the Mannheims turned to two new priests—Raymond Bishop and William S. Bowdern. The duo immediately agreed that Mannheim needed a second exorcism. After moving him to a psych ward, they spent six weeks performing over 30 exorcisms on the boy.
Mannheim progressively became more unruly. His cold stare, alone, was enough to unsettle both priests. After exhausting themselves, they believed that Holy Communion might be able to save Mannheim. Again, failure followed. However, a few days later, Mannheim sat up, and miraculously announced:
“Satan! Satan! I am Saint Michael, and I command you, Satan and the other evil spirits, to leave the body now!”
Suddenly, Mannheim was cured. After months of endless agony, Mannheim’s life slowly went back to normal. However, the abnormal possession continues to disturb those who can only imagine the horrifying exorcisms of Robbie Mannheim.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
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