Flying monkeys (psychology)
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Flying monkeys is a phrase used in popular psychology mainly in the context of narcissistic abuse. They are people who act on behalf of a narcissist to a third party, usually for an abusive purpose. The phrase has also been used to refer to people who act on behalf of a psychopath for a similar purpose. An alternative word is apaths. Abuse by proxy (or proxy abuse) is a closely related or synonymous concept.
Flying monkeys are distinct from enablers. Enablers just allow or cover for the narcissist's (abuser's) own bad behavior. The phrase, originally winged monkeys, is derived from L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The wicked witch sent them to carry out her attacks.
- the abuser's associates
- the victim's associates – manipulated to side with the abuser.
- authority and institutional figures – manipulated to side with the abuser.
The flying monkey does the narcissist’s bidding to inflict additional torment on the target. It may consist of spying, spreading gossip, threatening, painting the narcissist as the victim (victim playing) and the target as the perpetrator (victim blaming). Despite this, the narcissist does not hesitate to make flying monkeys his or her scapegoats when and if needed.
The flying monkeys may make it seem like the narcissist is not really involved. They are likely to have no idea that they are being used.
The motives behind the narcissist's support group can be multiple. Service providers may be seduced by the narcissist's charm into taking a one-sided perspective. Family members may in good faith attempt to sort out the "problematic one". The codependent may seek to participate in the narcissist's omnipotence, or use them as sanction for their own aggressive instincts. Alternatively, others may simply be swept up by force of personality to define the situation along the narcissist's own lines.
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