Narcissists and Flying Monkeys /Enablers

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I just want to spend some time to explain some terminology that I’ve learnt during my studies/research in connection with my experiences with narcissism. And also how I was able to overcome and deal with the issues that I had with my narcissistic husband. This has been an especially educative and learning process for me and I hope it will be for others reading this blog.

What are Flying Monkeys?
The term was taken from the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in which there were flying monkeys sent to do the evil bidding of the evil witch. ‘Flying monkeys’ is a popular term used to describe people who the narcissist uses to do his dirty work. They are used by the narcissist to gather information for him in order to use against his victim, or just to have one up on them. Flying monkeys can be anyone including colleagues, friends even family members, like children. Yes, narcissists will use their own children, they have no shame, as long as it gets them what they want.
Narcissists are masters at manipulating and exploiting others for their own gain. They are very crafty and experts at reading and discerning people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They can assess and instinctively know their targets, those who will believe their lies. I guess it’s because they have learnt to do this throughout their life, so they’ve had years and years of practice. In most cases flying monkeys do not realise they are being manipulated by the narcissist, they are given the impression by the narcissist that they are the victims in the situation and that their partner is the abuser, when in actual fact, it is the other way round.

How they operate.
Let me give an example, David is separated from his wife, Judy and his children and he doesn’t know their whereabouts. He contacts Mabel, a friend of Judy to find out information. David gives the impression that he’s concerned about his children and will covertly imply that he believes they are being neglected. David says Judy is a great mother, but she has some mental issues, or struggling with substance abuse, alcohol issues etc. It’s always something negative, to spark concern and action from the friend. Mabel or the flying monkey will be appreciative of his concern and will assure David that she will investigate the matter. David will insist that Mabel does not let Judy know he is in contact with her, because of course, she will not be forthcoming with information. Mabel, believing that she is helping, has actually been influenced by David, the narcissist, to get information that he would not have been able to get on his own.

Flying monkeys can also be described as enablers, because they enable and empower the narcissist’s to continue their toxic behaviour.
With regards to my own situation, the enablers, in my case, were my children and they were manipulated by narcissistic husband. He would tell them lies about me and they would believe it. After all, why would their father be lying about me, he loves me… right? I denied everything but my children didn’t believe me. He successfully turned my children against me and used them to spy on me. Narcissists are pathological convincing liars.That is something my husband would do a lot, he would just lie and lie and lie! And that was what worked for him all the time. And why we would he want to change if he gets what he wants by lying!
My children were enablers in the sense that they were accepting his behaviour, he bought them their first cars, anything they asked, he would give. So it was not difficult for my husband to convince them of his lies. I don’t really blame them though, because it is difficult to stand up to him. Besides he has bought all of them cars and in a sense he has bought their loyalty and silence.
For somebody who has not had any experience with narcissism, it may be hard to believe all this. You might ask the question, “Well, it can’t be all his fault, you must take some of the blame also.”
I will say this, I do have my faults. I think as humans we are not perfect at all and I certainly don’t claim to be. But I do try to be a good person and treat others fairly as the Bible says we should (Matthew 7:12). But when your behaviour affects lives, causes divisions , disunity, mistrust in the home, in the church, causes mental anguish; low self-esteem, self worth that is unacceptable!

He would send my youngest daughter to spy on me, to find out what I was doing and then report back to him. She would feed him information on what I was doing in my room, which was where I spent a lot of my time when I wasn’t at work. I felt like everyone hated me.
The narcissist goal is to isolate his victim (target) and turn everyone close against them. With no one to turn to for help, this can cause the victim to descend into a depression. That was what happened to me, I was isolated and depressed in my own home. The only person I could speak to was my mother; who called me continuously to make sure I was ok; and my youngest daughter. I had to be careful what I told her, because he would ask her and she would tell him. I was alone and depressed.

For some people, the flying monkeys could be your colleagues at work and the narcissist your manager or boss. Your manager would feed them some negative information that is not true about you. Your colleagues would then avoid you or give snide remarks. Or they would report back to the narcissist anything negative you say about him or her. Narcissists love to create conflict, it makes them feel powerful and in control and the workplace is just the right atmosphere for them.

Set Boundaries.
You cannot fight them with their own tactics , you will lose miserably. They are masters of that game, remember they are pathological liars, and masters of the art of deception. I decided to set boundaries to protect myself from this emotional abuse. I let him know that I would not discuss with him and the children any issues that needed to be sorted between ourselves. And if we both can’t resolve any issues we have, we will ask our parents or a trusted third party to intervene, NOT the children. I set boundaries with other toxic behaviours that I would not accept or tolerate. The Bible says you should guard your heart (set boundaries) Proverbs 4:23. I have found this to work for me.

No Contact What you can do if you believe that your narcissist is employing flying monkeys against you is don’t give them any information about yourself or what you’re doing. Also; especially if you’re separated from the narcissist; have no contact with the narcissist and anyone you believe is helping him.

Having a fervent effective prayer life. And also, pray for them that they will change. It is very easy to become bitter with people because of they way you’ve been treated. But bitterness does not help your situation, it will only hurt you spiritually, because you are internalising everything. You have to let bitterness, anger, resentment go, because it will only make you sick. There are so many people in the hospital or psych ward because of bitterness, anger and resentment which can lead to depression.
The bible says love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you. Pray for healing for yourself and him
The situation in my home is much better now, for a long time there was a lot of tension and animosity, which I believe is due to saturating the atmosphere with prayers (The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16)

How the Narcissist uses Triangulation on People

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“His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” (Psalms 55:21)

Triangulation is a manipulative tactic the narcissist uses to create drama or conflict involving three people. A common example would be the narcissist, his wife and another female, maybe the girlfriend. What would happen is that the narcissist would pitch one against the other. It might be a situation where all three go out to dinner and the narcissist would be more attentive to the other female and would almost completely ignore the wife.
He would pay compliments to the female and express awe at the other female’s accomplishments making the wife feel unattractive, insecure, uncomfortable and jealous. After the dinner, the wife would discuss her feelings with the husband and he would dismiss it and claim that she is misreading the situation or is jealous. The goal for the narcissist is to cause the wife to develop low self esteem, insecurities and jealousy.

I have had to counsel wives whose husbands have behaved in the above manner. It’s  an emotionally destructive and manipulative act designed to devalue and invalidate the partner.

Another instance of triangulation is the narcissist uses another person against the victim. For example, a if there is a disagreement between a narcissist and his victim, the narcissist will say that he spoke to someone else and they agree with him. Usually the other person is someone whom the victim holds in high esteem or respect. The narcissist obviously would be lying, but his victim is unaware of this and concedes the disagreement to the narcissist. In short the narcissist wins the argument.

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What the narcissist will also do is tell his girlfriend that he is no longer in love with his wife and that the wife does not understand him like she does. He will be feeding the girlfriend lies and everything she wants to hear. The girlfriend gets sucked into his lies. And then when he’s bored or the relationship starts to fizzle out, to spike things up he would abruptly discontinue his relationship with the girlfriend and go back to the wife. And he starts feeding the wife lies and stories about the girlfriend and the girlfriend starts begging him to come back. And it goes back and forth; a cycle of abuse, with the narcissist in control of the women’s emotions.

The ultimate goal of the narcissist is to create conflict between two people, to control and gain attention(supply). They take pleasure at people’s hurt feelings. They have no empathy or compassion for others. The best remedy against these tactics is to ignore their actions. They want attention and supply so deny them any whatsoever.

What is Narcissism and How does Someone become a Narcissist?

First of all, I’d like to mention that I’m no expert on this topic at all, I’m just a person who has found themselves confronting circumstances that I have never had to deal with before and I’m just trying to make sense of it all. I’m just a lay person sharing information I discovered because of what I was going through in my family. Like I said previously, I decided to do some research on the topic after learning that my family member was a narcissist and these are some of the information that I discovered on the internet.

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The term ‘Narcissism’ and ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)’has been used by psychologists to describe someone with an extreme preoccupation with satisfying self/ selfishness/self gratification. According to experts most sufferers of NPD are men, but women suffer from it also.
Psychologists have concluded that for a person to be diagnosed as suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder he must present with five or more of the following traits:

• A grandiose sense of self importance (e.g exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements).
• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
• Requires excessive admiration.
• Has a sense of entitlement, i.e unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
• Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
• Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
• Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed))

During my research I found out that this personality disorder develops due to some trauma suffered during the narcissist’s early developmental stages of their life, that’s during the formative early years. During our formative years, we learn certain skills that help us later on in life such as, reading, writing etc, we also learn learn other important skills such as learning how to regulate and control our emotions and other coping strategies. However if the environment is not conducive to learning and developing the latter important skill, then an personality disorder may develop.This trauma could be emotional, sexual psychological abuse and or neglect.( Trauma, by definition, is any experiences that has caused psychological injury or pain)
This trauma happened before the stage when the young child would have learnt emotional development like empathy and compassion for others.. Because his emotional development was stunted and he did not learn normal emotional responses, they can get out of control with their own emotions. That’s why when an adult narcissists feelings flares up, he behaves like a little child, because he did not learn how to respond in a normal way.

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The narcissists parents were emotionally or physically unavailable and the needs of the child were ignored and or rejected and in some cases one of the parents, one of the parents (or both) is a narcissist. Because the child’s needs are not met by either parent, the child begins to focus more on his own needs, on his own world to the exclusion of everyone else. He learns to take care of only himself. There is no one to guide the child to teach him empathy and how to care for people other than himself, he becomes more and more focused on himself (Hence the extreme selfishness in narcissists) As they grow older and reach out to their parents for acceptance, validation, approval they are often rejected. Based on what I knew about my cousin and his background ,it certainly seems very accurate.

My cousin described an incident that happened in his childhood, where he used to act out just so he could receive some form of attention even if it was negative. When he was in school, he was naturally very bright and he knew the way to get approval was to do very well in school. That was the only way he could get his father’s approval and approval from authority figures in his life

His mother died when he was very young and his father remarried. His stepmother neglected him and his older sister. His father used to travel a lot, during that time she didn’t care whether he had anything to eat, but she fed her own children. According to him, he would have to find food in the dustbin, or some neighbours would give him something to eat. When his father was around, he didn’t pay any attention to him at all. They basically abandoned him.The only time he ever got attention was when he did well in school or when he misbehaved. He learnt to survive and take care of himself. His father would go on trips abroad and buy clothes and things for the children, but his stepmother would not give him anything. Can you imagine how it would feel to a child where all the children sitting together in the living and things being distributed to each child, but you are the only child exclude?. It is so sad that adults can behave in such a manner.

So in such cases, the child basically has to fend for himself and as he grows older he believes that nobody loves or cares for him and nobody can be trusted because they’re all fake. These thoughts play out in his head all the time and he believes it. The reason why this happens is because if a child is rejected or ignored by the parent then the child believes that there is something wrong with him. (Children, most of the time ,have the tendency blame themselves if anything bad happens in the home.) So the child will begin to believe that they are worthless and damaged.

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In the situation where the parent is a narcissist. For example the mother is a narcissist and the child is rejected by the mother and ignored by the father who is trying to cope with the mother’s toxic behaviour. The child learns to take care of himself. The only time they pay attention to him is when people visit, but as soon as they’re gone, both parents revert back to the same behaviour. The parents would give him everything he wants or desires, except for what he needs, which is love, validation and acceptance. Which explains why the child will later on in life conclude that all people are fake and everyone is out to get what they want. The child will associate having everything they want as a sign of love, he has not been taught any different. This also happens to very spoiled children who are given everything they want. They have never been told ‘no’ by their parents. So when they become adults they associate denial with lack of love. As adults they explode in anger when they are denied anything. Very much like a child. Which is why as an adult, they always have an child like view of things of that nature because they have not been instructed by their ‘care givers’ on how to mature and appropriate a healthy outlook on life.

So they grow up as adults on the outside and toddlers on the inside. People with the intellect and experiences of an adult but the emotional capabilities of an infant.
So a narcissist becomes a narcissist through neglect, abandonment, indulgence and abuse.

Sources: psychologytoday.com