I’m obsessed with bad guys because I love writing about them. In order to write about them, I learn about them. I study where and how they live.
In science fiction or historical stories, there is ALWAYS the character that stands out for his willingness to oppress others on behalf of the boss. In exchange for doing the dirty work, the story’s minion receives a benefit, usually a modicum of power or an elevation of status or income.
The current TV character who comes to mind is Captain Tom Neville, played by actor Giancarlo Esposito. Neville is a former insurance adjuster turned militia leader under bloody General Monroe in TV’s saga Revolution. Neville will turn on his peers, getting them tortured and demoted, to advance himself. Yet he is fearful without the structure and protection offered him by Monroe.
As an author, it is important to be accurate when writing about the personality. Although the variety of personalities is numerous, the personality type is fairly fixed.
So what does psychology say about these overzealous minions? What are common traits among sociopath sycophants?
In the normal work-a-day world, he will likely screw-up regularly or use chaos to camouflage his childish character. He is seen as sleazy in the community or office. He will set aside morality or abandon principle if it is to his advantage to do so. He is drawn to a culture of corruption where questionable acts done on behalf of superiors advance his status.
Once he is given authority, he will demand respect from those under him, even if he doesn’t deserve it. He savors weakness in others. He will use title or force to exact submission from the weak under his jurisdiction. Show defiance to his authority and reap the consequences of his ire. He will abuse those weaker than himself.
There is no room for discussion or disagreement. It is his way or off with your head. In the face of reason, this minion will attack. Yet to preserve himself, he will avoid conflict with someone who may best him.
This character loves rules, regulations, and rigid structure. He seeks total control of his environment. He will twist the legal system to fit his own logic. He loves to force compliance on others.
Behind the facade of power, the sociopath minion is a follower, unable to operate without an elaborate system or leader to guide him. He is cowardly at his core: a follower, not a leader. The more bureaucracy clutters the landscape, offering him regulations to twist or hide behind, the better. He likes the smokescreen of obfuscation.
The minion draws his power from the ruling entity. Therefore, he supports the powers that be wholeheartedly. He disregards the rights or unique value of the individual. Control is easier to maintain in the absence of individualism. Therefore, he prefers the group mentality and will promote that sort of thinking. He cannot imagine functioning without an establishment to direct him. His self-identity comes from being part of it, not independent of it.
The sociopath as minion may wear a state uniform and wield power by turning in citizens for minor infractions of the rules. A tyrant or an oligarchy relies on him to grab and maintain control. He relishes being useful to and part of the machine. He is obsessed with continuing the power that gives him meaning. No bad act by those ruling will shake his devotion. He is a willing tool in the hand of his master.
Portions of trait description adapted from Brandon Smith of Alt-Market