The Narcissist’s Flying Monkeys

Nearly every adult has by now seen the famous movie, The Wizard of Oz. There is a pretty iconic scene in the film where the wicked witch sends out a large group of flying monkeys to attack and delay Dorothy and her friends on their way to Oz. The witch uses her flying monkeys as a tool or resource to manipulate the situation in an attempt to control the outcome. Much like this famous scene, narcissists often use flying monkeys to do their bidding. However, for the narcissist, only the term is as entertaining.

Flying Monkeys and the Narcissist

Individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are masters of manipulation. They use a variety of behaviors to control those around them. These can include love bombing, triangulation. Hoovering, gaslighting, discarding, and flying monkeys.

The Flying Monkeys term for Narcissists refers to a process that is typically employed by the narcissist after the discarding phase of a relationship when the narcissist feels completely out of control. Driven entirely by a need to feel superior and regain control over the situation, a narcissist will then begin to seek out the means to find their flying monkeys.

The narcissist will reach out to any and every person that could possibly have a connection to their intended target. Once they have established a connection, they will fill their monkey’s head with lies, rumors, half-truths, and other information specially designed to make their target look bad. The goal of flying monkeys is to help the narcissist spread the idea that the target is in the wrong, a bad person, or otherwise unreliable.

How do Narcissists create flying monkeys?

If you’ve got a narcissist in your life, or even think you might, then chances are that he or she is already very aware of your potential to become a source of narcissistic supply as well as the personal support network you have. If the narcissist has been in your life for any length of time, he or she has probably managed to squeeze his or her way into family gathers, professional events, and other scenarios where he or she can meet and ‘size’ up their competition for your time, attention, and dedication.

Being the master manipulator that the narcissist is, chances are that they have already made their charming selves seem absolute perfection to all those around you. The narcissist has established their trust or maybe even fostered the idea that he or she is a decent human being. All the while, this cozying up to your friends, family, and coworkers, the narcissist is filling his or her arsenal to launch a recruitment campaign for flying monkeys, should the need arise.

Once you’ve been through a discarding cycle with a narcissist, or perhaps decided to cut ties yourself, the narcissist has lost control and needs to find a way to regain it. They need to make sure that you don’t reveal their secrets or tell others about their tactics. They also need to find ways to devalue you and discredit anything you might say that casts a negative light on them or their behavior.

The Process

Once ready to strike, the narcissist loads their ammo and launches the attack. The Flying Monkey process has a few key steps:

  1. Feeling them out: The narcissist has most likely kept close tabs on minor complaints or spats you’ve had with others. They will use this information to try to gauge if a person is capable of becoming a monkey. Much like recruiting new cult members, the narcissist will use their arsenal of manipulation tactics to generate support from someone in your social network. They are now on his/her side, being spoon fed information to further a negative opinion of you.
  2. Using Monkeys to Spread Rumors: This is often the first and primary goal of the Flying Monkeys process. The narcissist will find those who are close to their target and try to spin or manipulate facts about situations or events to create a rumor. This can be anything from cheating on an exam to cheating on a lover with multiple people, lying, thievery or whatever other rumor the narcissist believes will be most believable to their monkeys while causing their target as much emotional and mental harm as possible.
  3. Using Monkeys to Spread Abuse – The next step of the process is often to spread rumors to gain the ability to execute the second goal of using monkeys to help abuse their target. Some of the rumors spread will be aimed at destroying the social circle around the target. This allows the narcissist to whisper in the ear of the monkeys to carry out emotional and social abuse tactics like ostracizing them, ignoring them, being rude or hateful to them or completely tearing their self-esteem apart. This allows the narcissist to enjoy knowing that their target is suffering without them having to do the dirty work.
  4. Using Monkeys to pull in the reigns: In some cases, the narcissist will use Flying Monkeys as a way to reign in the source of narcissistic supply. They will use the monkeys as go-to guys and gals to remind the target why the narcissist was so wonderful, overlooking and glossing over any flaws that might be presented. In these scenarios, narcissists will make a “plea” to friends and family members to persuade the source into speaking with them again. Getting the opening to the source is all that is needed as the narcissist will then use their charm and wit to lure the source back into compliance if the need be.

In many ways, individuals with NPD or narcissistic tendencies act very similarly to children, demanding their own desires, ignoring the needs of others, and pitching a fit when things don’t go their way. Much like a child who pleads with one parent after being told no from another, the narcissist will find any means necessary to maintain their sources of supply to feed their own ego and gratify their own needs.

If you have a narcissist in your life, or you are going through the painful process of dealing with Flying Monkeys, try to keep in mind that your reactions have more power than the narcissist. Do not engage. Do not give in. This is a ploy to maintain control over you. Walk away from the situation, tell your truth to whomever you feel you must and know that eventually, the narcissist will become bored with their fruitless endeavor.

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