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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. 
Flying monkeys can be anyone who believes the narcissist's fake persona including the narcissist's spouse, child, friend, sibling or cousin.
According to Atkinson, flying monkeys are usually unwittingly manipulated people who believe the smears about the victim although they may be another narcissist working in tandem.
According to Vaknin, proxy abusers can be:
- 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.
Multiple flying monkeys are likely to act as a mobbing force against a victim.
In divorce conflicts, the children can be used by one party as a weapon against the other party.
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.
- Character assassination
- Divide and rule
- Factitious disorder imposed on another
- Family nexus
- Meatpuppet (Internet)
- Parental alienation
- Parental alienation syndrome
- Proxy war
- Triangulation (psychology)
- Stockholm syndrome
- Useful idiot
- How Narcissists Took Over the World Vice Media 12 Sep 2016
- Atkinson A (2015) Gaslighting, Love Bombing and Flying Monkeys: The Ultimate Toxic Relationship Survival Guide for Victims and Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse
- Toner BC, Hathaway AE (2012) Bill the Sociopathic Flying Monkey
- Dodgson L Narcissists often recruit people called 'apaths' to help with their games — here's why they're dangerous Business Insider 28 Feb 2018
- Vaknin S (2010) Abuse By Proxy: From Smear Campaigns to 3rd-party Stalking and Abuse
- Ziehl N Coping with narcissistic personality disorder in the White House Quartz 06 Dec 2016
- Carlson, Rik. "The Flying Monkeys of Burlington, Vermont". monkeyswithwings.com. http://www.monkeyswithwings.com. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- UK, Lindsay Dodgson, Business Insider. "7 psychological phrases to know if you're dating a narcissist". https://www.businessinsider.com/dating-a-narcissist-phrases-to-know-2017-3.
- Bailey-Rug C (2016) It's Not You, It's Them: When People Are More Than Selfish
- Moore, J., Are you being used as a flying monkey for a narcissist? 23 Mar 2015
- Flying Monkeys Denied C-PTSD and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Website
- S. Nightshade, A Pre-Book and a Victim's Guide to Surviving the Narcissist (2016)
- M. McGoldrick, You Can Go Home Again (London 1995) p. 198
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (London 1946) p. 510 and p. 498-500
- F. Wittels, Sigmund Freud (London 1924) p. 34
- How Narcissists Get Away With It PairedLife 16 Jun 2016