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.


9 thoughts on “Angels With Dirty Faces

  1. Jess says:

    It seems like these types would be easy to manipulate? Not for personal gain on the empath’s part but just to avoid abuse and for the sake of keeping the “good deed” functioning. No doubt, narcissists can be accomplished when they get fueled for it.

  2. Victoria says:

    What is it that comes across like that, but is more nasty? They seem really to believe in their goodness, will act like described above when they don’t get their recognition for that, but in their endeavors is something nasty. Their help isn’t actually helpful, if one takes a second look their help is actually harmful, but they seem genuinely convinced of their total goodness.

  3. Jane hall says:

    Yes my X was like this

    “Look I gave the poor people down town some warm vests”
    “I put my last £5 in the collection”
    “I mowed the lawn for Mr Jacobs – poor old thing”

    Meanwhile –

    “You are pathetic ” He mouths to his daughter behind my back.

    “Your father is a disgrace, I cant stand him” – said to me about my wonderful dad for something he said that didn’t suit my X

    “I cant stand that church – the people there are unfriendly” said – even though he walked out after church every week without saying a word to anyone.

    “You kiss your brothers ass” – said because I said I would babysit their youngest child.

    And so on and so on.

  4. Saving Grace says:

    Thanks, H.G. for another illuminating and well- written article to help us understand and identify the mid ranger. MY mom is a MR.
    My confusion is that I feel that my ex was definitely a greater. He was more of a devil hiding behind a shiny halo than an angel with a dirty face. His false-self was the image of a saint. He oozed charm and was involved in so many church activities it seemed like he was desperate to prove his “goodness.” The more devious he became over the years, the more he did for the church. “Pious Paul” loved teaching and mentoring teenagers because both the young ladies and males seemed to adore him and he worked a lot with the church youth. As our long marriage deteriorated, I had a hard time getting anyone to believe his facination with 14 to 16 year old girls was inappropriate. I was told he was such a good mentor and role model and I was imagining things. His evening FB chats, grooming a 14 year old girl was completely fine according to other adults. (I would read what he was writing as it happened as I had his FB password. I did my best to intervene, but was treated like the bad guy.) Its no big deal that he helped out 16 year old girls by texting them. I was wrong for attempting to tarnish his image. That is the message I was getting from his Lieutenants or even my depression-related psychiatrist! I don’t think any sexual deviancy ever occurred, but it sure must have been some good, yet odd fuel.
    My question, H. G. is, does this sound like “greater behavior to you? He rarely used the pity or “look at me” ploys that you described for a mid ranger.. Instead he appeared oh so humble and dedicated and in my opinion, cold and calculating in his attempts at saving souls.
    He got away with it all and many more tricks to get fuel. He also had many affairs, but they were often out of town geographically (from what I learned after escaping).

    1. HG Tudor says:

      With regard to ascertaining the type of narc, please see the Narc Detector option in the menu bar.

  5. baileybfree says:

    HG, you saved my life (literally)!!! Much gratitude to you and also to the wonderful contributors on this blog. THANK YOU HG!!!

    The AWDF’s are ever so present within our community, local school PTA/PTO Presidnt’s, Sorority members/President’s at University, Volunteer Org’s, co-worker’s, club sports.
    Thank you HG for providing the necessary tools to build our defenses.


  6. Chihuahuamum says:

    My mother in law is a dirty angel and this describes her to perfection. She is in constant need of praise and will go as far as to praise herself to have others agree and in turn praise her.
    Shes in constant competition to be the “favorite”. Buying the favorite gift, being the favorite to sit by at a meal, favorite grandmother…the list goes on and on…
    If she doesnt get praise she goes into a tizzy and gets grumpy and pouty.
    Nothing is ever done just because but rather its done for praise. Shes in constant need of validation. It makes you wonder how empty a person must be to keep needing this. Its quite shocking when you stop to think on it and sad as well.

  7. E&L says:

    HG, you are providing me with so much knowledge. I feel such a debt of gratitude towards you! Your blogs expose a truth, without judgement, from your distinct perspective. I feel enlightened!

  8. Quasi says:

    This quite literally describes the narcissist I knew to an absolute T…
    On one occasion when he did a charity gig with a band. The next day no one had really commented or posted anything on Facebook as he had hoped, so he actively found some footage and posted It himself.
    He then proceeded to try and mask his utter indignation at the fact that people were commenting in his post about how great the singer was; and no one mentioned him in their praise …
    it was actually humiliating for him by his own making…

    but the good guy facade is so intrinsically important for him, he would do anything to maintain his public face. Unfortunately for him so many have become wise to him ( not specifically to know he is a narcissist, but his negative nature and self pity ), that he is more isolated now then he ever has been. People copy his fake regard, and civility as they really don’t seem to care to much for him either …
    Yes this does make a part of me feel sad for him- from a very safe distance.

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