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. They are typically unaware that they are being used, and can be manipulated by the narcissist through various means such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and emotional blackmail. The name “flying monkeys” comes from the phrase “the wicked witch sent her flying monkeys” in The Wizard of Oz, which serves as a metaphor for how easily a narcissist can sway unsuspecting people into following their agenda.
In some cases, the flying monkeys might be related to the narcissist, such as a parent, sibling or child. It is also possible for them to be friends or relatives of the victim, unwitting accomplices in the narcissist’s campaign of abuse and manipulation. Their loyalty can be deeply misguided, swayed by subtle tactics like gaslighting and emotional blackmail into believing that the victim is either an abuser themselves or mentally unstable.
What are the main characteristics of a flying monkey?
When it comes to narcissists and their victims, the flying monkeys are a force to be reckoned with. Unwittingly enlisted by the narcissist to pursue their often insidious agenda of abuse and manipulation, these flying monkeys make up an important part of the narcissist’s strategy.
Understanding the main characteristics of a flying monkey can help us to protect ourselves from their manipulations.
- Unaware that they are being used, and lack understanding of the narcissist’s agenda.
- Easily manipulated through tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping and emotional blackmail.
- Loyal to the narcissist despite any evidence to the contrary.
- Willing to act on the manipulative orders of the narcissist without question.
- Often related to or friends/relatives of the victim, making them unwitting accomplices in their campaign of abuse.
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: This might involve spying on the victim, or gathering intel that the narcissist would find useful for their own purposes. By doing this, the narcissist can remain one step ahead of the victim and retain control of the situation.
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 their flying monkeys to try and isolate their victim from other people. This is achieved by convincing others to avoid contact or interaction with the victim. Through this tactic, the victim can soon find themselves without any support network or friends, which makes it easier for the narcissist to control them.
Attacking the victim: The narcissist might manipulate the flying monkeys into physically attacking the victim, if all other methods of manipulation have failed. In these rare cases, the flying monkeys are used as an extension of the narcissist’s own aggression and desire for control over the victim.
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 flying monkeys
- Stay aware of your personal boundaries and do not let anyone manipulate or take advantage of you.
- Refuse to be controlled or manipulated by the narcissist or his minions.
- Be on the lookout for threatening behaviour or language, and never hesitate to remove yourself from a situation if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Make sure you have supportive people in your life who can provide emotional support when needed.
- Seek help from professional therapists, counsellors or other mental health professionals if needed.
- Consider taking legal action if necessary to protect yourself from further abuse and harassment by the narcissist and their flying monkeys.
As we have seen, the narcissist’s flying monkeys can be incredibly destructive and manipulative. They are used as a way to build up the narcissist’s ego and maintain his power.
The flying monkeys can have several objectives, such as spreading rumours and lies in order to discredit you, or attacking you on social media. They can also be used to isolate you from your friends, family and other support networks that could help protect you.
It is important to remember that the flying monkeys are not acting of their own accord, but are being manipulated and controlled by the narcissist. The best way to protect yourself from their manipulation is to be aware of how they operate and take steps to stay out of their reach.