The term “Flying monkeys” was adapted from the movie The Wizard of Oz to describe those who have been conned by the narcissist into attacking their victims. In any other circumstance, these flying monkeys are generally nice and decent people.
However, they’ve been convinced through a smear campaign launched by the Narcissist, that they are the real victim in this situation. The ultimate goal for the narcissist is to create maximum drama and chaos with themselves at the center of it.
The reason being is that all this negative attention feeds their insatiable ego. The more chaos they can cause, the more important they feel. (Sick, I know.) The flying monkeys (generally the next victim) bully, taunt, insult and further break down their last victim or (if they are friends, family or children of the narcissist) bully or encourage the victim to go back to the narcissist for reconcilation.
Look at what she (or he) made me do!
The most common phrase in an abusive relationship is, “Look at what you made me do.” Flying monkey are the well-intentioned, but misled enforcers of this phrase set in motion. The worse or more public (and undeniable) the bad behavior by the narcissist is, the more Flying Monkeys are needed to protect the image of them and work to attack their victims. After exhibiting bad behavior (lying, cheating, stealing or all of the above), the narcissist then goes running to his inner circle exclaiming, “Look at what she/he made me do!” (As he simultaneously points to both Supply A and Supply B.)
Because the bad behavior doesn’t fit in with the carefully constructed public image the narcissist has created for himself, the flying monkeys buy into the narcissist’s explanation of events and get all riled up wanting to come to their defense. (But to outsiders the situation and the narcissist is seen for what they are: a master manipulator that is the problem—not everyone else.) Supply A and B quickly become the target, as they are now perceived to be the problem. According to the narcissist, Supply A (the spouse) is never home/doesn’t pay attention to them/won’t have sex with them, and supply B threw themselves at them…so in their mind, it’s not really their fault for cheating! After all, look at what they made them do!
What do flying monkeys do?
What this looks like in motion: harassing emails, phone calls, text messages, driving by the victim(s) home, hang up calls, mean and cruel posts on social media so that the victim and her family can see them, gossip, spreading lies and otherwise launching a smear campaign against the victim that portrays them as crazy, evil, manipulative, selfish and uncaring. In other words, the narcissist has projected everything they are and has done onto their victim, and because they’ve has gone to great lengths to cultivate a stellar public image, their flying monkeys believe them.
Here’s a snippet of conversation from a former Flying Monkey:
“OMG. Now that I see what a crazy psycho he really is, I am feeling some major empathy for his ex-girlfriend. He had described her as utterly crazy, and said that she’d even broken into his house. He said she was jealous and just couldn’t get over him, that he’d been trying to get rid of her for years, that he’d lost jobs because of her, and that she just kept stalking him. He wanted her to get the picture that things were really over between them, and that he loved me, and joked that we should send her pictures and videos of us in bed, that maybe then she’d get it. So I did. I got her email and emailed her all kinds of things. Now I wonder if any of what he said was even true. I was so mean and insensitive to her situation. I wish now that I’d been nicer. They were together for four years. I can’t imagine the craziness and hurt she’s going through.”
How and why it works
Because narcissists don’t think of people as people, but in terms of “Supply“, they always make sure to have a ready supply handy for when they need a fix (which is all the time). Without their supply, they cannot function (which is why Narcissists are never single or alone for any length of time.) This leads them to create a supply chain of victims/supply (or Plan) A, B, C, D, E, F and so on, depending on their level of availability.
Let me be clear: everyone who knows a Narcissist serves as part of their Supply Chain: their friends, significant others, co-workers, church members, and especially their children. The order of the Supply Chain is continually under evaluation and being shuffled around by the narcissist. The spot of Supply A changes from their spouse, to the person they are cheating with,to their friends, coworkers and children. It’s whomever can stroke their ego the most at that moment, as well as who has the most they can mooch off of earns that spot. If the target wants to leave that spot, generally because they are tired at losing at a game they never intended to play, the narcissist will release his Flying Monkeys to get them back in line or create a smear campaign in order to devalue and discredit them–and then move onto Supply B if necessary.
And when it comes to sources of supply (aka significant others), the narcissist replaces them with lightning-fast speed–it’s so fast that generally both Supply A and Supply B didn’t even see it coming. Due to the unexpectedness of this situation the narcissist is generally able to create Flying Monkeys out of both Supply A and Supply B, pitting them (and generally their friends, children and other members of their family, church and work, etc.) against each other. The narcissist sits back and sucks up all the attention from this, as it is used to validate their self-importance and self-worth.
Because the narcissist has no remorse and no empathy, they have no accountability for their actions. They are the perpetual victim, and everything is about them, and nothing is ever their fault. It generally isn’t until the order of the Narcissist’s supply line is being reshuffled that their victims see just how cruel and callous they really are. Their lack of empathy and remorse is mind-blowing and hard for their targets to comprehend. They often wonder if they even knew who they were in a relationship to begin with, and this confusion fueled by anger is intentionally made worse by additional crazy making and provoking behavior on their end–often with the intent to turn the victim’s rage against other sources of supply, which turns them into their most vicious (and entertaining) flying monkey.
Some examples of flying monkey behavior
The behavior of Flying Monkeys includes inflicting additional torment of the real victim(s) through spreading gossip, harassing phone calls, emails, texts, posting on the victim’s Facebook page/other social media, and/or notifying the victim’s family of the victim’s (not the narcissist’s) awful behavior. Comments that are made to Supply B are generally along the lines of, “Die bitch,” “Slut,” “You mean nothing to him,” “We are married and have kids, I hope you are happy you stupid whore,” “Don’t you have any respect? Go find your own man/woman,” “You should do the world a favor and kill yourself.”
If the narcissist has spoken to friends, family or church members about (his version of) the situation, their responses are generally along the lines of, “You need to give them another chance, after all you have kids together,” “Don’t you value marriage? It’s a commitment after all, and you made a vow to honor it,” “Think of the kids,” “The Christian thing to do is to forgive and forget,” “They will change,” “All couples have their issues, you guys can work through it.”
Even though the comments made to Supply A seem more tame than the ones made to Supply B, they are just as crazy making, as odds are Supply A has been putting up with different forms of the narcissist’s victimization for years, and is slowly cracking under the stress of trying to do or be better (walking on eggshells) so he doesn’t up and leave out of the clear blue (yet again). The minimization, deflection or denial of the narcissist’s bad behavior by the flying monkeys only serves to further erodes the supply’s self-esteem and perception of reality. (After all, maybe things aren’t that bad, if all these trustworthy people are encouraging me to stay.)
Both forms of comments made by Flying Monkeys can, and often do, lead to severe emotional trauma or suicide of their victims.
An example of a flying monkey situation (Narcissist’s are also women, so swap out the genders to fit your situation.)
Example: Susie and John are married. John has dropped Susie like a hot potato and replaced her with Molly. No one saw this coming—not even Susie and Molly. (John has told Molly that he has been unhappily married for years, and that him and his wife are in separate bedrooms, and only still live together because the wife can’t afford to move out—so he’s doing her this favor.)
John has his fun with Molly for a few weeks or months, giving Susie the silent treatment, and refusing to let her really know what just happened or why. The more silent and aloof John can be, the longer it gives him to play and drain his backup supply. (Although Susie wants answers as to why John seems so aloof, she knows John is a compulsive liar and won’t get the truth anyhow.)
After John gets his fix off Molly (the next in line as his Narcissist Supply), he returns to Susie with the story that Molly threw herself at him. That Molly is crazy/bipolar/an addict/alcoholic and he can’t believe he fell for her tactics. (He is the victim of Molly.) If only Susie had been more attentive at home/had sex more often/lost weight, etc. this would have never happened. (His cheating is her fault.) …Of course he was also telling Molly that Susie is crazy/bipolar/an addict/alcoholic and he can’t believe he fell for her tactics (creating triangulation).
Who’s really the problem here?
Unbeknownst to either one of the women, they both (and their friends, family, coworkers and children) now believe that the other woman is the problem. That the other woman is the crazy/bipolar/addict/alcoholic, and that their relationship with the narcissist would be perfect if the other woman was out of the picture. Each woman is completely duped by the Narcissist and the wife believes that the girlfriend is a tramp (not knowing all the lies the Narcissist told her to manipulate her into having sex/Supply B status), and the girlfriend believes that the wife is crazy, because look at the way she is acting!
Thus two teams of Flying Monkeys are created that both serve the same master. If continually provoked, these Flying Monkeys have the potential to drive each other to emotional breakdowns and sometimes suicide. The more damage that is done, the more the narcissist takes delight in it, as their insatiable ego is stroked by both Supply A and B fighting for, and over, them, and the other flying monkeys reassuring and reinforcing how great of a person they really are.
Notice that the narcissist is the one who created this mess, and yet, thye has managed to manipulate the situation to where they have become the victim, and has everyone working toward their desired outcome.
After years of this ongoing behavior (and it is ongoing—the lying and cheating does not, and will not, ever stop) the victim confuses codependency with commitment and mistakenly thinks that they are in a marriage, when in fact they are in a manipulation. This confusion sends the victim out to double up her efforts to save the “marriage,” and she buys into his manipulation that the issues are problems with their marriage. The victim often spends countless sessions in therapy, reading self-help books or attending marriage retreats, while the narcissist either pretends to be invested in working things out (at least for a few days or weeks) or just sits back and laughs that they were able to dupe the target once again.
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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- Episode 67:Do you have any tips for how to get my narcissist friend out of my life? - September 20, 2017