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    What is meant by the term ‘’flying monkeys’’ in narcissism

    There are many terms associated with narcissism, and ”flying monkeys” is just one terminology in a dictionary of many!

    The wicked witch

    As children, most of us watched the film, The Wizard of Oz, where the wicked witch of the west’s flying monkeys did all her dirty work for her while she delegated all the rotten tasks to her monkeys, like spreading lies and generally doing the narcissists dirty work.

    The narcissist in this example is, of course, the wicked witch.

    Flying monkey

    In narcissistic personality disorder, a narcissist will employ carrier pigeons or ”flying monkeys” who often get caught up in a web of drama and deceit, which are part of the narcissist’s cunning plan.

    Often, the narc plans to destroy the life of their target by spreading lies, using gaslighting techniques, guilt-tripping and playing the victim.

    Emotional abuse

    A narcissist’s flying monkey is nothing but a pawn in their game to get what they want from the opposing party; this could be an ex-spouse, friend, co-worker, sibling or child.

    During the flying monkey stage, both the narcissist and the narcissists flying monkeys continue to spread lies, use open aggression tactics, and lots of guilt-tripping to make the other party feel weak and exposed.

    Narcissist’s dirty work

    Anyone could fall victim to becoming a narcissist’s flying monkey.

    It appears that the narcissist isn’t at all selective about who they choose to do their dirty work for them, from family members to the narcissist’s friends, through to the victim’s close friends to third parties, no one is exempt from the clutches of a narcissist on a mission!

    Narcissist’s flying monkeys


    Narcissists enjoy having at least one monkey on their team as it gives them the narcissistic supply they require, which is part of the narcissistic personality disorder characteristics.

    The flying monkey often pleads on behalf of the narcissist; they may spread gossip, fight the narc’s corner, and even help with smear campaigns towards the victims who have gone against the narc abuser.

    Upper hand

    Another reason narcissists use flying monkeys during a smear campaign is to get the sense of self-worth and superiority they desperately lack but require.

    Narcissist’s lies

    Inherently, narcissists suffer from profound low self-esteem and often have a weak sense of identity. 

    Thus, such an empty vessel requires re-fueling, which usually comes from debasing others to feel above them.

    Dark side

    Having flying monkeys makes the narcissist happy. It gives them a sense of self-importance and superiority as they feel above those that get caught up in the messy drama; this includes the narc’s victims or her flying monkeys.

    In the circle of chaos, the narcissist will claim innocence while making the victim look like the bad guy. It’s a power trip that often works as the narcissist, and their flying monkeys continue to violate the victim’s boundaries and weakest links.

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    Social circles

    Narcissists often recruit flying monkeys from within their immediate circle; this could be family members, extended family members, close friends or other friends that may not be within their social circle. Sometimes, they may recruit other narcissists.

    Some narcs may play family members against each other such as siblings and parents, even a healthy friend with no interest in drama can fall prey to the narcissist and their whims.

    One of the narcissists’ primary objectives is to drain their opponent’s energy so that their victim’s well-being gets profoundly impacted.

    Narcissist’s mask

    Narcissist's mask

    The narcissist adopts many tactics to lure people into their clutches. Some of these psychological techniques involve:

    Extreme caution must be exercised if you suspect you may be dealing with a narcissist, especially since at the beginning of meeting a narc, they often love – bomb their victims with excessive praise and admiration.

    At the same time, they are grooming their victims for the next phase of devaluation, but not before getting them hooked on the initial praise and extreme love sentiments!

    Mission accomplished

    Narcissism is not just a condition reserved within the family -friendship dynamic, political leaders and people in positions of power and authority are also prone to narcissistic tendencies.

    Influential leaders such as Donald Trump (and other related stories) have gotten labelled as narcissists; this could be because people like Trump are not exactly known for sticking to the status quo!

    Why do people become flying monkeys?

    People who become like the monkeys in the wizard of oz are often good people with sound intentions but somehow get caught up in the chaotic mess of the narcissist’s drama.


    Flying monkeys often operate under the illusion that they serve both parties best interests and believe that the narcissist’s toxic relationships are worth saving.

    People who do the narcissists dirty work for them are often unaware of the manipulation of being involved with a narcissist.

    In their bid to be helpful, flying monkeys put a little extra effort into advocating the narcissists’ solid points and trying to remain objective when the victims are either defending themselves or becoming unresponsive.

    Popular psychology

    Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to scroll through social media news feeds without seeing at least one article on narcissism.

    Narcissism has become the main discussion topic within popular psychology even though the roots of narcissistic personality disorder scratch way back to Freudian psychology.

    Researchers identified several reasons why people become flying monkeys to narcissists. These involve:

    • A need for self-preservation and protection – this often happens when a flying monkey is afraid or intimidated by the narcissist and would rather be on the ”good side” of the narc rather than go against them.
    • A weak sense of self – in this case, the person has likely endured years of emotional abuse at the hands of the narcissist and, as a result, has a profoundly weak sense of identity and independence. The narc’s influence over the person is so strong that they have far less capacity to see right from wrong.
    • Enjoying the drama – unfortunately, some flying monkeys enjoy the narcissist’s drama and the adrenaline rush that goes with it. The lies, deceit and manipulative game-playing appeal to those who thrive on drama; hence they become the narc’s right-hand man (or woman).
    • The tendency to rescue the narcissist – many people, particularly those with dependent personality disorder, have an inherent need to ”save” people or salvage them by jumping to their defense. All this serves the narcissist who tends to blame everyone for what has gone wrong in their lives. The ”rescuer role” helps the dependent personality as it allows them to feel valued and wanted.

    Mental health

    When people suspect that they have gotten unwittingly recruited as a flying monkey, one of the first steps is to assess their role as much as possible.

    A narcissist often takes as much of a person’s energy as possible. Therefore it’s crucial that people tangled up in the chaotic mess take a few steps back and consider what their following actions will be.

    Grey rocking

    Often, tactics such as grey rocking are highly effective, as the less an individual reacts to the narcissist’s drama, the better.

    Essentially, grey rocking is a technique used by a narcissist’s victim to appear as dull and non-responsive to the narcissist’s provocation as possible. Thus the narc’s victim becomes as dull as a grey rock.

    Remember, narcissists, thrive on drama and conflict, so the less responsive a person is, the more bored a narcissist eventually becomes before moving on to their next victim.

    Reaching out

    If you suspect you are a victim of narcissistic abuse, make sure you reach out to one of our specialists who can help.