Angels With Dirty Faces


You are surrounded by Angels with Dirty Faces, albeit you are unable to see that encrusted filth that cakes them. You are oblivious to the touch which taints and the soiled footprints which beat a path back and forth to you. These individuals are the patient friend who listens to your tale of woe, the kindly physician with the twinkling eyes who resides at Bedside Manor, the soothing carer who chats to the elderly and infirm, the diligent charity worker and the host of the site which professes to guide you, the victim, out of the maze of narcissistic abuse.

The Angel with a Dirty face is an individual who is utterly convinced of their inherent goodness and moreover they have an unquenchable desire for the world to know that they are a good person, that they care, that they understand.

This facade of virtue and integrity is fundamental. It is how they truly believe that they are because this is what the world must know about them. It is not the quiet application of the nursery worker who looks upon those in her charge and smiles inwardly at a job being done well. It is not the sheepish looks of the diligent nurse when he is praised by grateful relatives. It is not the patient smile and humble response of the therapist who is hand-holding their distraught charge through their third meltdown of the year. The Angel with a Dirty Face has a towering conviction that they are good and you had better believe it because if you do not, well, then that makes you a bad person.

The Angel with a Dirty Face is not the Lesser of our kind. No. He does not have the capacity to emulate empathy. He does not care and is not even configured to even be able to try to look as if he cares. He is too rudimentary and brutal, too caught up in attempting to satiate his own needs to bother looking outside of his own bubble. He does not understand what it is to care and nor is he capable of doing so. It is not the Greater of our kind. True enough the masterful Greater Narcissist will easily be able to mimic those expressions and words of concern and is not beyond their occasional use purely for the purposes of driving his agenda, but be known for this faked empathy? No, that disgusts the Greater. He does not wish to be seen as caring, that is for others to do, his greatness comes from delivering – whether it is profit, great works of art, sensational film and literature, glorious rhetoric on the podium, lung-busting athletic records, mesmeric dance, intoxicating sexual congress and so forth. The Greater wishes to be known for pioneering achievement, the caring and the cuddling is beneath them.

The Angel with a Dirty Face is very much the preserve of the Mid Range Narcissist. He or she truly believes that he or she is a good person. They want you to know it too and you must accept it, well, because it is true. They think that they care about other people, they think that they do good work but they must be acknowledged for it and this must occur repeatedly. They want the recognition. They want you to tell them how good they are, that they are helping people, that they see you understand that they are honest and decent. Of course all of those responses are the fuel that they instinctively crave although  they are unable to recognise that. They see nothing wrong with being identified, highlighted and rewarded for their sterling work, after all, doesn’t that just tell more people about the good that they are doing?

There are those of the Mid Range school who are obsessed with such a portrayal. It matters to them that are seen as that local community pillar, the teacher whose pastoral care is second to none and the organiser of charity bakes and cancer research sales within the office. Where there’s a good cause, there’s a good chance you will find an Angel with a Dirty Face.

These individuals are everywhere and difficult to spot because of course they believe what they show the world. The Greater knows the charismatic front he advances which masks the seething malevolence and smiles that cold, reptilian smile as he sees yet more sleepwalking into his grasp. The Angel with a Dirty Face does not have that awareness. He or she has sufficient cognitive function to create the appearance of goodness, to appear to care, to put into effect what they believe themselves to be and in so doing this enables them to blend with considerable ease amongst all of you. The trusting nature of people, both normal and empathic alike means that they will see no reason to doubt the apparent caring credentials of these people. What you see is what you get, right? Seeing is believing, yes? This person is caring, helpful and good so they must surely be that way, after all, who on earth would ever put on one front and behave in a different way? Yet as you have come to recognise, not only is it our kind who do this, the depth of the front varying dependent on the school of narcissist, but its frequency is far greater than people realise.

So, how do you find the filth beneath the purity? How do you ascertain whether that person truly does feel that emotional empathy, is good of heart and mind and it is not just part of a facade? There are two detergents which remove the masking facade and expose the dirt that lurks underneath.

The first concerns recognition. As I mentioned above, the Angel with a Dirty Face must have recognition. Watch what happens if you fail to acknowledge that person’s contribution or if you accord it to somebody else. An empathic individual may be hurt that their efforts have gone unrecognised but they will largely keep it to themselves, not wishing to be seen as churlish or attention-seeking. They may leave it to another to correct the error but they will certainly not make a song and dance about being overlooked. Unsung hero is a medal they are more than content to wear. Someone normal might be irked and may speak up but they will not react to the failure to accord to them sufficient acknowledgement for what they have done.

Yet the Mid-Ranger who is the Angel with a Dirty Face who is not given recognition will be unable to contain the effects of this wounding. The failure to praise them, credit them for their endeavours, acknowledge what a kind and wonderful person they are results in them being wounded and this will manifest through the ignition of fury. Being Mid Range, the failure to recognise brings forth mainly cold fury. Accordingly, watch out for:-

  1. Complaining to other people as part of a protracted Pity Play – “I cannot believe that Mary forgot to thank me for my funding efforts, I mean, she knows I do this every year and all I wanted was her to say thank you. that’s not too much to ask is it? I didn’t notice her bothering her backside to help out.”
  2. Sulking at the event
  3. Giving a silent treatment to the person who has transgressed
  4. Passing passive aggressive comments either on social media or in person.
  5. Cajoling third parties to remind someone to recognise what they have been doing
  6. Refusing to offer further assistance until they receive an apology for the ‘oversight’
  7. Belittling the efforts of others in the same sphere
  8. Threatening to join a rival organisation

The nature of caring, empathising and demonstrating this goodness is, as I have witnessed, meant to be an understated endeavour, a vocation where the act itself is its own reward which requires no standing ovation or repeated praise and lavish thanks. Recognition is not required. If it is provided, the empathic individual or normal person will graciously accept it, but it is not a concern if it is not provided. Selfless individuals do not seek this recognition, but the Angel with a Dirty Face must have it and if they do not, you will know the reactions along the lines of those above and the dirt begins to show.

The second method of exposure is that of challenge. An empathic person recognises that people have views and opinions, that it matters that they should be able to articulate them and that they are not invalidated. I have learned much about this approach in my interactions with others and I am intrigued by their capacity to allow this. They will allow others to state their case, they will advance their own but recognise that the two can exist side by side. It is genuine tolerance, not done for show or for kudos but borne out of the empathic decency of allowing the voices of others. Not so the Angel with a Dirty Face. If you challenge their methodology of how they dispense their apparent care, if you disagree with their views, if you suggest there is a better way, you will then see the angelic coating recede and the dirt beneath come very much to the fore.

When challenged in this way, the Angel with a Dirty Face feels their superiority attacked and therefore since they are a Mid Range Narcissist in disguise, this attack on their perceived superiority ignites their fury and the attack must be repelled. You should watch for the following:-

  1. Being smeared and bad-mouthed to third parties for your audacious criticism of the Angel with a Dirty face “after all they have done” and “just because they are jealous of what I do” and “all I am trying to do is help people and this is how I am treated.”
  2. Directing Lieutenants and the Coterie to attack the transgressor. This is especially evident in an online environment where people will “jump in” on the accused and land blows on behalf of the Mid Ranger, after all, he or she most prefers others to be doing the dirty work.
  3. Invalidating the view of the transgressor and doing so without reference to any substantive point but saying they are wrong, because they are wrong.
  4. Going on the attack directly against the perceived transgressor.
  5. Acting hurt and crestfallen.
  6. Rolling out Pity Plays
  7. Accusing the transgressor through projection, most notable labelling them as  a narcissist.
  8. Isolating the perceived transgressor through familial or social ostracisation, removal from social media, removal from committees or employment.

The Angel with a Dirty Face is a dangerous individual because their facade enables them to inveigle themselves into positions of relative authority and from there when their endeavours are not recognised and/or others politely question or challenge their way of doing things, rather than listen and apply, they will allow the dirt to emerge and use it to smear and pollute the innocent and those who are genuine in their intentions. This dirt muddies the water to such an extent and so convincing are the performances of the Mid Ranger in these scenarios that those who have done wrong end up being made to be the scapegoat, they are pilloried and driven out. Of course, achieving such an outcome only reinforces the Angel with a Dirty Face’s notion that he or she is absolutely right and that what they did was justified.

You will know these Angels with Dirty Faces. Time to do some cleaning of your own.




  1. Ooh I have an acquaintance who fits this category perfectly. Collects for charity, very public do-gooder, makes a big song and dance about how much money he collects for his chosen charity (and name drops often in the process to show how well associated he is with celebrities) and gets very cross if he’s not credited for his efforts.

  2. I had wondered about a young lady that she seemed to have two personalities. She brags that she gives to the needy and how she cares so deeply for people, but then I later will see posts on social media attacking someone for the most childish things. Recently she became obssessed with one girl, and her attacks were relentless. She went on and on about all she had done for this girl and how ungrateful she was. In the mean time her victim offered little response. I felt sorry for her. She just kept saying she had nothing bad to say about her and she was sorry, she did not want trouble. My aunt did the same to me. Which was ridiculous because it was all a lie. Everything she claimed she did for me, it was actually me doing those acts for her. I am beginning to suspect this girl might be a mid ranger. I may need to change direction and keep out of her sights and her out of my life.

  3. HG is this about a specific site/host? “and the host of the site which professes to guide you, the victim, out of the maze of narcissistic abuse.” Or a lot of them?

  4. This is such an eye-opener. Along with another you wrote previously, this article confirms something I suspected: my ex narc #1 was a Greater Narcissist, not mid-range. I had wondered because he is a surgeon, but at some point, not even that deep into the relationship, he said it was more about the status than the patient. I had been wondering where he was in the spectrum, this really helped confirm it.
    Thank you, H:G, your posts are always something I look forward to.
    Have a great weekend!

  5. Another article stating clearly how to rout out a Midrange narc in your midst. I have no doubt that I was involved in a relationship with a Midrange narc and this article just further corroborates my case. He was forever “helping” someone out and forever talking about it. If I help someone out, I don’t go about bleating about it forever and a day at the mere mention of their name. I also suspect now that when he volunteered to do me a favour and then point blank refused to take any money for it, that meant in his mind that I was “indebted to him” in some shape or form. He is now probably smearing me by stating he did some work for me and I never paid!!!!

    On another note……I am no angel but my face is definitely clean……Diva

    1. Diva
      True that! You are no angel and I think you may have several dirty strands running through you, as well. But your face is clean, like mine. K

      1. Hey K…you know me all too well…….I originally typed “my face is clean…..shame about the rest of me!”……..I deleted the latter part of it before I posted it, but since I am fooling no one (well certainly not you) I thought I would come clean……you know what I mean!!!!!!…….Diva

        1. What is it with you lot and dirt and turds in the toilet?! Seriously, my skin is starting to itch.

      2. Don’t forget the dirty knickers, HG.

        Diva, it is all about the facade. Keep the face clean and the rest doesn’t matter…on second thought, scratch that. Keep the body clean but the mind can be dirty.

        1. Hey K…..I am not sure about you putting my name on a post just after a comment about dirty underwear!!!….these posts might be on Oprah yet!!!! Never mind…..I guess that’s the least of my worries really after some of the other things I have alluded to!!!

          I think HG has a bit of OCD where cleaning and cleanliness is concerned….I have noticed signs of it before in other articles he has written…..I have also witnessed this myself with several of my own narcs with whom I had a relationship and also other narcs that are friends or acquaintances.

          HG…..Is there any correlation between narcs and OCD?????……..Diva

          1. It can be a co-morbid condition. I do not have OCD, it is not as if I place all of the tins in my cupboards with the labels facing the same way is it?
            I tell the housekeeper to do it for me.

          2. I have a touch of OCD myself…….but not in a way that anyone else would notice……just another quirk…….Diva

          3. You have a housekeeper…I am pea green with pathological envy. In Sleeping With the Enemy, the husband arranges all the cans in the cabinets with the labels facing the same way.

          4. Indeed he does and when Julia Roberts’ character moves house to Iowa, she opens the cupboards to find the cans have been re-arranged.

          5. Yes, I remember that scene very well. That movie, and many others, has a whole new slant now that I know about cluster Bs.

          6. Hey K….I remember Narc no 1 insisting that his cup had to ALWAYS be placed on the right hand side if he or I were making tea. I didn’t question it, I thought the reason was so he would always know which cup was his because he took sugar and I didn’t….but when I bought him his own special cup I deviated from the normal because it was clear whose cup it was, because we now had different ones. He came over and moved his new cup back over from the left to the right and said “this will remind you that I am always right.” I remember laughing thinking he was joking……..that cup didn’t too last long!!!…..Diva

          7. Bizarrely enough…..24 years later…..I still don’t ever put my cup on the right hand side…’s always to the left even though I am right handed…..Diva

          8. Diva
            I have to say your defiance and stubbornness is quite admirable. Your comments reflect those traits, as well as, your great sense of humor. My MMRN had a red mug that I called The Devil’s Cup and it broke not too long post escape. Your mule comment was funny: long-suffering, hardworking, but very smart and extremely stubborn. Those are all empath traits. Stubborn = tenacity. Carrots would have been great, but at the end all I got was sticks. K

          9. K
            Think that was my mule comment, but its truth doesn’t really matter on who said it.

          10. WS2 & Diva
            I am losin’ it. Just scratch Diva’s name off of the comment and put your name on it WS2. It is getting late ladies; I better go to bed before I start rambling. I am rereading Chained, while I wait for my Amazon order to be delivered. Gotta hit the books. Goodnight!

          11. Hi K……that very funny mule, carrot and stick comment was actually Windstorms2 post in response to mine!!!!!!…….Diva

          12. Diva
            We can’t forget the dirty laundry or the skeletons in our closets. We all have them. Several of my narcs are filthy slobs and hoarders with rodent problems or infestations. So I lean towards minimalism, order and cleanliness, but I am not a Nazi about it, either. When you have children, it is difficult to keep the house clean all the time. I do not know much about OCD and narcs but I would rather a clean narc than a dirty one. K

          13. Hey K…..maybe all of my narcs developed OCD after living with me!!!! I remember a friend of mine asking me “did your ex have mental problems?”……….I answered “not when I first met him.”…..hmmmm…..makes you think doesn’t it???

            Joking aside all the narcs I have known have been methodical, organised, clean and tidy……almost ritualistic….creatures of habit…….time was very important…..things HAD to be done at the same time every day or on set days……there was even a set time for that first glass of wine or vodka in the evening……..this is why I don’t wear a watch!!!……. Diva

          14. Diva
            You are such a riot!
            “did your ex have mental problems?”……….I answered “not when I first met him.”…..hmmmm…..makes you think doesn’t it???

            I don’t think NPD presents in adulthood, but if there was a case study, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were the cause. And being on the naughty chair only enhances your dirty empath status, so enjoy it while it lasts. K

        1. Twilight
          You think this is bad, go to “The Power of Demise” and check out Dr. Q’s comment about the gift her boyfriend left her. It will make you cringe! On the upside, I got a great answer from HG regarding her present.

          1. Hey K…..I have only just read the comments of The Power of Demise as you mentioned to Twilight (and I wish that I had not as my own skin is crawling) and NOW I fully understand HG’s itchy skin comment!!!!!! I really should apologise for my incorrect personal insinuations, however, that may damage my hard earned “enhanced dirty empath, narc enabler status” and I am sure that no such apology would ever cross ones lips. Diva

          2. Diva
            Don’t stress too much. You didn’t know about Dr. Q’s gift or the reason for HG’s itchy skin. Communication isn’t always easy on a blog. And, please, do not do anything to cleanse your “enhanced dirty empath, narc enabler status”. I like your wicked reputation. It makes you attractive to narcs and empaths alike. K

          3. “I like your wicked reputation. It makes you attractive to narcs and empaths alike. K”

            Hey K…. I do not think that you are too far removed from myself!!!! I knew it when you stated you imagined taking off his head and kicking it around like a football……or words to that effect!!!!! Humour has always been crucial in my survival techniques.

            You are correct when you say I attract narcs and empaths alike……what is bizarre is that I only ever attract narc men and female empaths…..never the other way around (well apart from that
            lesbian narc boss, but that’s another story!)……why is that?????? Diva

          4. Diva
            Thanks for understanding my twisted humor and violent fantasies. it takes an open mind to be receptive to that type of thinking and you seem to fit the bill in that respect. It is no surprise you attract male narcs and female empaths. You are a magnet for high energy, fun and adventure (read: full of fuel). You gotta cross those wires and reverse it so you get the empath male. Hmmmm…”lesbian narc boss” is not a bad start I suppose. K

      3. Hi diva….you described my narc to a T. He is very into schedules and hes had the same one since ive known him. I dont say this in a disrespectful way but more from a curious standpoint. Since i met him 7 years ago. Thursday is grocery shopping day. Each friday is for awhile a different themed meal. Right now its shrimp veggies and pasta. For awhile it was homemade pizza. Then chinese cuisine. Each holiday certain things are done religiously like halloween decor is out first week of october. Sunday is coffee day. He allows himself coffee on that day only then suffers insomnia as a result. I actually find it kind of cute how he has set days for certain things. Im not sure if its a form of ocd tho bc he can be flexible with his schedule but for the most part sticks to it. I do have a feeling theres more to it tho and may be connected to the npd.

        1. Narc Affair
          Boy do I feel out of the loop on this one! My exhusband thrived on chaos! One of his main talents is to fly by the seat of his pants, totally unprepared. He’s the diametric opposite of OCD! He never plans anything, doesn’t even have a place to put things away – that’s what minions are for.

          As a chaos lover myself, I could never stand such rigid rules as you all describe. Glad I never had to!

          1. Hi Windstorm….I think I saw in my super organised, efficient narcs someone I wanted to be, but never would become. You can learn a lot from these types. I am rash, spontaneous and impulsive…..I guess they say opposites attract. After a while I realised that I would never achieve such organised perfection myself, although they did try to instil it into me and they made progress. I played along at the start, aimed to please and then somewhere along the way the deviousness and defiance kicked in, probably during devaluation and the more they tried to control me, the more I rebelled…….makes no sense…….but that is how I recall it……..Diva

          2. Diva,
            Well of course, the more they try to control, the more we defy! How else can we assert who we really are. If I hadn’t thumbed my nose at narc authority all my life, I’d have lost myself long ago.

            HG always compares us to appliances, but I’ve always known I was a domesticated animal. Ordinarily I’d say I’d be a German Shepherd Dog, but sometimes I’m more like a mule – long-suffering, hardworking, but very smart and extremely stubborn. I need a skilled handler if they want much out of me. Sticks aren’t enough. I need my carrots. 🥕

          3. Hi Windstorm2….you certainly have a point when you state “if I hadn’t thumbed my nose at narc authority all my life, I’d have lost myself long ago.”……..Diva

        2. Hey Narc Affair… have had the same narc experience as I have… my eyes….it’s just another form of controlling their environment, others within it and maybe even themselves………Diva

      4. Hi diva…ty you hit it on the nail and its so obvious now why…control. youre right im sure the schedules are a way to control his environment and give a sense of security. The shopping on thursday still mystifies me.

        Hi windstorm…im a lot like my narc in that i like things to be somewhat predictable yet i say this and narcissists bring the unpredicted.

  6. Shards of truth. Adding to my back pack. Hurts less now. And affirms I am not one. But I am amongst them. Legions.

    1. Tappan Zee
      Yeah. But think of that beautiful mosaic your going to make out of all those shards!

  7. Narc Affair,

    “Lol gawd this is my mother in law!”

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Mine hides behind religion. The most selfish, manipulative, intolerant “Christian” I have ever met, but everyone thinks she walks on water. I think water would melt her.

      1. Veneer. That’s a good word to use with narcs.
        My father’s passion was carpentry. He would wax lyrical about the craftsmanship of old furniture with a thin layer of some rare veneer. I never understood it. I always prefer solid wood myself. But I guess it makes sense that a narc would appreciate veneers.

  8. Thank you soo much HG for today private consultation which I would strongly recommend to everyone.
    It’s a paradox that once we have been damaged by a narcissist and now we are going to get healed by a narcissist. The universe never stops surprising me.

  9. Actually, we all have a bit of narcissism within us or we wouldn’t survive this physical reality. It is just a matter of degree. We all have some good in us, we all have some evil (if even just in thought).I know many people who want to appear good and truly believe they are saints, but they are actually very self centered and uncaring about their own family most of the time. However, occasionally they do something genuinely nice. They always act perfect in public but, are usually dismissive in private. They care more about what the neighbors think than members of their own family. Alas most of my relatives are like this, therefore they would be labeled narcissistic.

  10. This describes my mid ranger so well. He always complained to me about how much he had done for people with no appreciation or gratitude in return. I always wondered why someone would be talking about this if it was genuine and from the heart. Now I know! Thank you, HG!

  11. I’m sort of torn in my opinion of these narcs. One the one hand, they are actually doing good, unlike many narcs. On the other hand, they are so afraid of any criticism that they often do much harm in retaliation and to prop up their egos.

    Teachers like this come to mind. They usually volunteer or inveigle themselves onto many committees and do many things others don’t want to do, but they will not take suggestions and want to rule like petty dictators. Likewise their classrooms will be models of order with many seemingly excellent lessons, but they are so harsh and intolerant, their students hate them and cause much disruption.

    1. Hi windstorm… i think true dirty angels are doing it for praise only. If what theyre doing isnt going to be witnessed by others they wont do it. Its coming from a place of wanting accolades and they could give two hoots about the actual deed.
      My mother in law is one of these. She will do something and brag about it relentlessly. Then she will demand thanks for it after being thanked already many times over.
      Ive never met a person who needed to be built up the way she does. She compliments herself in front of others. Examples are how much shes helped babysit. She has helped but weve made sure to pay her bc shes gotten very mean and angry in the past saying we dont appreciate all she does when we are continually saying ty. I pay her also to help with gas money and financially as shes single and lower income but the need for constant praise is exhausting and irriitating.
      Anything she does has to be in the spotlight and if it isnt she pouts and gets nasty. Shes said some extremely mean things to my hubby all bc he either didnt do something she wanted or bc he didnt praise her enough.
      I do think she does things for her grandchildren with genuine intent but so much of what she does do is meant to be showcased and bragged about.

  12. Yes! I’m the ipss, narcy boy is currently back with the wife reinstating himself & im sure playing the victim, I’m on the shelf having been discarded (for now) & I am building up a wall around me before his imminent return.
    I established that he is a narcissist, a mid ranger & now this post puts the tin hat on it…… wait for it… he’s a policeman! He told me once that he ‘owned this town’. I trusted him because of what he was, I never stopped to think about who he was…an angel with a filthy! face.
    You freak me out HG Tudor, freak me out!

    1. ahahahah love the last sentence :) I think HG Tudor is the least freaky…if only they all had the same level of awareness as him, the world would be a better place

      1. He doesn’t freak me out per se, he freaks me out with his ability to hit the nail on the head & categorise 😉

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