Narcissists are more than capable of causing a horrific amount of destruction by themselves. Their behavior patterns are designed to erode their victim’s emotional and physical stability, so it can be hard to understand the reason they need take their abuse a step further by targeting those close to you and turn them into flying monkeys.

There’s no denying that narcissists gravitate towards chaos. In fact, the dynamics of a healthy relationship are actually incredibly destabilizing for people with narcissistic personalities. But the reasoning behind a narcissist’s recruitment of flying monkeys goes far beyond their need for chaos.

Narcissists need flying monkeys for three specific reasons. First, flying monkeys are a fill-in source of narcissistic supply.  Second, flying monkeys support the narcissist’s falsified identity. Third,  flying monkeys prevent their abusive behavior from being exposed.

You can uncover a lot of the hidden aspects of narcissistic abuse by learning about flying monkeys. This manipulative tactic is a manifestation of a narcissist’s fear that one day they’ll be rejected by society. One day, everyone will see them for who they really are. It is a really powerful fear that fuels most of their behavior patterns. 

If you’ve suffered narcissistic abuse, having a comprehensive grasp of a narcissist’s fear of being rejected will give you a lot of the answers you’ve been looking for and put you in a position to have a successful healing journey.

Flying Monkeys Are a Fill-In Source of Narcissistic Supply

This is a really informative aspect of not only flying monkeys but narcissistic abuse as a whole. One thing that makes it very hard for victims of narcissistic abuse to acknowledge that what they’re experiencing is abuse is the fact that narcissistic relationships aren’t blatantly abusive one hundred percent of the time. 

As we know, narcissists are very good at using manipulative techniques like love bombing, hoovering, and intermittent reinforcement to trigger your sense of hope that the relationship will get better one day. 

A non-narcissistic man being trapped in the abuse cycle because his wife is using intermittent reinforcement on him.

The more commonly known reason that narcissists use intermittent reinforcement is to regain control of the narcissistic supply.

But another reason is because the concept of being able to put on a big “show” and drag you back into the relationship, is exhilarating for them. Being “admired”, even if it is momentarily, is a powerful source of narcissistic supply.

This theatric approach to soothing one’s emotional instability applies to their need for flying monkeys as well.

When you leave a narcissist, you take a significant amount of narcissistic supply with you. This leaves them incredibly vulnerable because without narcissistic supply, their falsified identity begins to disintegrate, which triggers all of their suppressed negative emotions. 

For a narcissist, having their suppressed negative emotions triggered is agonizing because they’re so emotionally stunted that they’re unable to regulate these powerful emotions like shame, fear, and self-hate.

So, in a desperate last ditch attempt to keep their negative emotions suppressed, they reach out to others to regain the validation, admiration, acceptance, encouragement, and acknowledgement they lost. 

I needed my flying monkeys because I was I was cut off from my supply. It was a way that I could control, connect with, spy on my victim. Flying monkeys were really useful because they would report information back to me about my victim and/or help me insert ideas into my victim’s head or perspective. – Ben Taylor, Self-Aware Narcissist

Narcissists love being able to drag people into their convoluted world with increasingly dramatic lies, rumors, and gossip because it is a sufficient source of narcissistic supply.

Flying Monkeys Support the Narcissist’s Falsified Identity

In our article Why Do Narcissists Lie we spoke about a narcissist’s need to protect their falsified identity. This need is something that shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Narcissists spend their entire lives creating an identity that they believe will be accepted by society. Due to their emotional immaturity, they build their identity with several trivial aspects of life.

What’s most shocking is that they truly believe in the identity they’ve created and all the lies that come with it. 

Meaning that one way that the flying monkeys support the narcissist’s falsified identity is by protecting it from being exposed.

They do this by participating in the smear campaign that portrays the narcissist as the victim and the victim as the abuser. 

But there’s also another way they support the narcissist…

A narcissist’s sense of superiority is the origin of many of their most abusive behavior patterns. For example, one of the biggest red flags for someone with a narcissistic personality is if he/she constantly puts others down the moment you meet them. 

The most common way this happens is when they’re talking about their ex supply. They’ll discredit them in every way possible to try to ensure that you won’t believe the ex supply if they were to warn you about the narcissist. 

A narcissist in a yellow shirt talking poorly about his ex girlfriend in front of other people.

If you’re interested in the other red flags you should check out our article How to Protect Yourself From a Narcissist, but I’ve chosen to single out this particular red flag because a narcissist’s sense of superiority also manifests in the dynamics of flying monkeys in a very sadistic manner.

Narcissists get a significant amount of pleasure out of humiliating other people and it has a strong correlation with their need to protect their falsified identity. 

One of the ways a narcissist can maintain their falsified identity is by admiring their own path of destruction. 

What do I mean? 

Having a tangible representation of their power and dominance over others is a very soothing feeling for a narcissist. So when they’re able to see all of the flying monkeys they’ve recruited terrorize their victim, it reinforces their grandiose perception of themselves and soothes their emotional instability.

Flying Monkeys Hide the Narcissist’s Abusive Behavior

I mentioned in the beginning of this article that narcissists have a fear of rejection, so in this section we’re going to dive deeper into this dynamic.

I think the best explanation for a narcissist’s fear of rejection comes from Otto Friedmann Kernberg, a psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, who believes that narcissists are created by narcissistic primary caregivers. 

We have an article about ALL of the different theories pertaining to the creation of a narcissist in How Are Narcissists Made, but Kernberg’s theory suggests that by having a narcissistic primary caregiver growing up, a child will learn to prioritize the development of his/her outer-world instead of their inner-world. 

In other words, the child will gravitate towards achievements and appearances rather than aspects of life that enable healthy cognitive development.

Why? 

Every single relationship a narcissist has is transactional, including the relationships they have with their own children.

For a narcissist it’s all about the narcissistic supply and when it comes to their children, they accumulate narcissistic supply from others through their children’s achievements and appearances.

Meaning that if Johnny is a good basketball player, his narcissistic father “loves” him because from a narcissistic perspective, Johnny’s talent brings admiration and validation to the family.

But the moment Johnny starts to lose his skills, his narcissistic father’s demeanor towards him will change, and Johnny will likely move from the golden child to the scapegoat in the blink of an eye.

A narcissistic father in an orange shirt using his child for narcissistic supply

Because Johnny has been forced to live in a narcissistic environment throughout his childhood, he’ll likely quickly learn that the only way he will be loved and/or acknowledged is through his achievements.

Kernberg believes that this type of environment creates an individual who is emotionally immature because they were forced to neglect behaviors and activities that promote healthy cognitive development. 

As Johnny moves on to adulthood, his need for his narcissistic father’s approval gets redirected at society.

Meaning that instead of only seeking his father’s approval, he’ll gravitate towards things that are idealized in our society today like money, power, dominance, sex, and social media to accumulate validation and admiration he never got from his father.

But there’s a catch…

Narcissists know that their behavior is wrong. But unfortunately this awareness doesn’t originate from a place of empathy, it originates from their fear of being rejected by society. 

Their pursuit of acceptance knows no limits. They’ve completely submerged themselves in their perception of what society values most and they’re intelligent enough to acknowledge that if they were to be outed as an abuser, they’d be rejected. 

Therefore the third and final reason that narcissists need flying monkeys is to avoid having their falsified identity exposed by being outed as an abuser and subsequently rejected by society.

What Should You Take Away From This Article? 

When trying to escape the narcissistic abuse cycle, it is really important that you take the time to understand the depth of their behavior patterns. The traditional definition of flying monkeys is spot on. They are people who narcissists manipulate into participating in the smear campaign of their victim.

But where does that leave you?

Knowledge has always been the most powerful defense against narcissistic abuse. For those of you escaping abusive relationship or learning how to managing abusive relationships because leaving isn’t an option yet, making an effort to dive deeper into the reasonings behind the abuse you’re enduring should be one of your daily practices.

With the proper knowledge, the chances of you slipping back into the abuse cycle on your healing journey reduce substantially.


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