Love bombing

From Academic Kids

Love bombing is the deliberate use of an intense, concerted show of affection by a group of people, toward an individual they seek to recruit or otherwise influence.

The phrase and practice apparently originated within the Children of God. Deborah Davis, daughter of the founder, and Kristina Jones, daughter of an early member, both use the term in memoirs of that organization's early days.

Unlike the "Flirty Fishing" practiced or once practiced by the Children of God, some forms of love bombing are nonsexual.

The term was later used within, and is often associated with, the Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, used the term "love bomb" in a 1978 speech (translated):

Unification Church members are smiling all of the time, even at four in the morning. The man who is full of love must live that way. When you go out witnessing you can caress the wall and say that it can expect you to witness well and be smiling when you return. What face could better represent love than a smiling face? This is why we talk about love bomb; Moonies have that kind of happy problem. We Who Have Been Called To Do God's Work (

The Unification Church reportedly has used this tactic to persuade recruits to prolong a visit to their centers or camps. Church opponents criticize the practice; arch-critics condemn it as manipulation, an essential and insidious element of mind control.

Critics of cults often cite love bombing as one of the features that identifies an organization as a cult. When used by critics, the phrase is defined to mean affection that is feigned or at least not entirely sincere.

The term was popularized by the controversial psychiatrist Margaret Singer. She used the term in 1981 when testifying in a lawsuit on behalf of the Daily Mail. (The Unification Church had sued the newspaper for libel, in regard to stories the newspaper had published about David Adler's experiences with the church). In her testimony Singer said that she had interviewed over five hundred members of various sects, about half of them members of the Unification Church. She said that the church's use of a showering of intense affection was more effective than the brainwashing techniques used by the North Koreans on prisoners of war. In a 1996 book entitled Cults in Our Midst, she described the technique thus:

As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was originally associated with one of the early youth cults, but soon it was taken up by a number of groups as part of their program for luring people in. Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members' flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing—or the offer of instant companionship— is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.

However, there is no litmus test which defines love bombing, any more than there is any way of objectively determining the sincerity of any human emotion. There is no bright line separating "love bombing" from practices which, in an organization not described as a cult, might be referred to simply as "welcoming", "unconditional love", or "good public relations".

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