Dorothy, the main character in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is swept away in her house by a cyclone. The house lands on a wicked witch, killing her on impact. As a result the witch’s sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, vows to avenge her sister’s death. She does this by sending a troop of flying monkeys to do her dirty work. They capture Dorothy and her group of friends and take them back to the witch who enslaves them.
The term Flying Monkeys is not a term used formally in psychology. It is a type of psychology slang used to describe people who act on behalf of a narcissist by mistreating the narcissist’s victim – a form of narcissistic abuse that goes by the name of abuse by proxy.
In some cases the narcissist manipulates the flying monkeys to believe lies about the target, which they then gossip about with others. This results in the destruction of the victim’s reputation. Once that happens there is also the possibility that the manipulated third parties shun the victim.
In other cases the narcissist could use coercion, with the third parties conforming with the narcissist’s desires in order to avoid being victimised themselves.
What are flying monkeys?
Flying monkeys are people who the narcissist uses to do their bidding. These people can be manipulated by the narcissist through various means such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and emotional blackmail.
The flying monkeys might not even be aware that they are being used by the narcissist. They might genuinely believe that they are helping the narcissist or doing what is best for them.
In some cases, they might be related to the narcissist, such as a parent, sibling, or child.
In even more disturbing situations, they are relatives or friends of the victim, who have been totally manipulated by the narcissist either into thinking that the victim is the abuser or else that the victim is psychologically disturbed.
Why do flying monkeys exist?
Flying monkeys exist because narcissists need them to. Narcissists are master manipulators, and they know how to push all the right buttons to get people to do what they want.
Narcissists are often very charming and likable, which makes it easy for them to draw people in and then start manipulating them.
What do these human tools do?
As explained above, the term “flying monkeys” is derived from the Wizard of Oz, where the Wicked Witch of the West uses them to do her bidding. In the same way, narcissists use flying monkeys to further their own agenda.
Flying monkeys can be used for a variety of tasks, such as:
Gathering information about the victim: The narcissist might use the flying monkeys to spy on the victim or to find out information that the narcissist wants.
Spreading rumours and disinformation about the victim: One of the most common and hurtful things that these human tools do is to spread rumours and lies about the victim. This can be done either directly, by talking to people about the victim, or indirectly, by planting false information where others will find it.
Discrediting the victim: The narcissist might use his minions to try to discredit the victim in order to make them seem less believable. This is often done by making false accusations about the victim or by spreading rumours about the victim’s supposed mental health issues.
Shunning the victim: In some cases, the narcissist might use the flying monkeys to try to get the victim isolated from other people. This is done by convincing other people to avoid or ignore the victim.
Attacking the victim: In extreme cases, the narcissist might use the flying monkeys to physically attack the victim. This is usually done as a last resort, when all other methods of manipulation have failed.
Flying Monkeys: An example
A narcissistic mother decides that the birthday gift one of her daughters gave her was not good enough. She phones her other children and sobs her heart out, claiming that the target had sent her a gift that was clearly used and soiled.
The siblings become her flying monkeys. They turn on the target and when her birthday arrives they shun her. One sister actually blocks her on Facebook. The target has no idea why her brothers and sisters have stopped talking to her. She is hurt and upset but does not suspect that her mother is the actual initiator of the abuse.
How to deal with the narcissist’s goons
If you find yourself dealing with flying monkeys, the best thing to do is to cut them out of your life. This might not be easy, but it is often necessary.
You should also try to build up a support system of people who you can trust and who will believe you. These people can act as a buffer against the flying monkeys and help you to stay strong.
Finally, remember that flying monkeys are not your friends. They might seem like they are, but they are really just being used by the narcissist to further their own agenda. Do not let them control you or make you doubt yourself.
For Further Reading:
You might also want to check out the following posts about the different abuse tactics in the Narcissist’s toolbox:
- Abuse by Proxy
- Ambient Abuse
- Coercive Control
- Divide and Conquer
- Flying Monkeys
- Future Faking
- Love Bombing
- Narcissist Discard
- Narcissist Hoovering
- Narcissistic Triangulation
- Narcissistic Abuse
- Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
- Narcissistic Family Roles
- Narcissistic FOG
- Narcissistic Grooming
- Narcissistic Projection
- Narcissistic Rage
- Narcissistic Smear Campaign
- Narcissistic Word Salad
- Parental Alienation
- 7 Types of Narcissistic Abuse with Practical Examples
- The 10 Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse
- 13 Warning Signs of Narcissistic Abuse: How to Deal with It and Get Help
- Flying Monkeys in the World of Narcissism: What They Are and How to Deal with Them
- Gaslighting Defined – How Can You Tell If Your Partner Is Gaslighting You?
- Why Narcissists String Along their Exes and Never Cut Them Loose
- Understanding the Cycle of Emotional Abuse – The Red Flags of a Toxic Relationship
And finally, this is my story. I was the scapegoat daughter of a narcissistic father.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me. At no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for all my readers.