(Investigator 6, 1989 May)

When Heide-Marie Cammans of Essex, Germany, began battling the local cults 10 years ago she was aware of only 8 cults. By 1987 she knew of about 1,000.

Cammans, 45 and mother of 3 sons, has headed "Sekten-Info" since January 1984. Sekten Info has 15 members whose goal is to guide defectors from cults back into normal life. By June 1987, 75 persons had been guided and readjusted back to society.

To a writer for QUICK magazine (1988 January 5) Cammans explained that when a person joins a cult his previous personality is completely destroyed. Cammans described a 23-year old priestess rescued from a Satan worshiping cult: "She was as an emotional wreck and terrified of being found by other members. For half a year now she's been under psychiatric care."

On another occasion Cammans challenged an African witch-doctor where 30 followers had a meeting place in Bochumer Street, Essex. A single one-syllable command from "Okonfo" had the young Germans growling, and snapping, and baring their teeth like animals. Then came the sermon: "I am Okonfo your master. I am Okonfo. All machines are of the Devil. The spirits rule your lives. The spirits dwell in me."

Everyone listened as if in a trance except Cammans: "But Okonfo, you came here in a car — a machine. If machines are so devilish and your ghosts so powerful why didn't they bring you here?"

At stake in this showdown with the African was the life of a young girl with kidney disease. Under the witch-doctor' s spell she was rejecting all medical treatment and had gone off her dialysis machine. "0konfo and his spirits will heal me," the girl claimed.

Cammans, formerly a social worker, became interested in cults in 1978 when a woman she met on an airplane told of a daughter who joined a cult and vanished.

To help victims of cults make the break: "We talk — hours, weeks, months — together. Everything that happened to the person in the sect is worked out. Only by such talking together can they be free from their terrifying experience."

Sekten-Info also warns the public whenever a cult starts a money-raising campaign. "Hunger Project" for example promised a soon coming world where no one would go hungry again and aimed to raise DM 1 million. ($800,000) Their campaign ended when Cammans accused the leaders of pretence and false advertising.